James Brown

Live at the Apollo, Vol. 2

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If the purpose of the "Deluxe Edition" of Live at the Apollo, Vol. II is to make the best even better, the mission is more than accomplished. Not only has the original running time been increased by over half an hour -- re-creating an entire performance, but also the sound, is likewise all encompassing and complete. According to Alan Leeds -- tour director of the James Brown show in the late '60s -- by 1968 Brown was honored with the distinction of selling one million concert tickets during his various appearances at the famed Apollo Theatre. The first volume of Live at the Apollo [1963] captures the R&B fury that would single-handedly define the soul music genre. While this volume reveals Brown's updated stage show, it more importantly offers another prolific observation into the future of R&B -- funk. It would be nearly two years before Brown would discover the likes of Bootsy Collins and ultimately form the JBs. However, as Live at the Apollo, Vol. II testifies, "soul brother number one" is already submerging his band into more extended musical tangents, bobbing and weaving within a tight framework. This yields exciting new readings of familiar classics such as "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." Not only does Brown brilliantly incorporate the track "Lost Someone" -- recalling the extended workout given on Live at the Apollo [1963] -- Brown's percussive, heart-attack inducing call and response will leave even the most unflappable enthusiast slack jawed. This "expanded edition" also incorporates soloists, as well as other featured musicians who were often part of Brown's revue. Included on this release are previously unissued performances by Bobby Byrd ("Sweet Soul Music") and the James Brown Band ("Caravan"). The sonic brilliance on this double-disc set is visually matched in the 28-page liner notes booklet. Replete with newly published photos and memorabilia circa Brown's 1967 spring and summer tours, the booklet also features essays from Allen Leeds and percussionist Ahmir Khalib Thompson, aka ?uestlove.

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