James Brown

There It Is

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Brown's Polydor debut, Hot Pants, was nothing more than an inferior remake of the title track baited with a batch of half-baked vamps. There It Is, his second Polydor studio album, was a marked improvement. Not that he put much into it, either. This 1972 effort collected five of his best early-'70s tracks and mixed in minimal filler. "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing" and "There It Is (Pts. 1 & 2)," with its bebop-style horns, were both innovative and hard driving to a fault. The hilarious "I'm a Greedy Man," with its hypnotic bass and help from Bobby Byrd, has Brown firing off such witticisms as "I'm a greedy man/yes I are" and "Taking care of my business/now run tell that." Brown wasn't all fun and games on this one. "King Heroin," an eerie, laid-back jazz offering, has him reciting chilling poetry about the ills of the drug. "Public Enemy #1 (Pt. 1)" attempts to re-create the same message. By "Public Enemy #2 (Pt. 2)" he is doing nothing but connecting the same dots and screaming himself hoarse to little effect. Although by this point Brown was best known for his dance tracks, he still had a way with a ballad. "Who Am I," a song that had been kicking around his oeuvre for aeons, gets a strong arrangement and has Brown giving an impassioned performance. It's well worth picking up.

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