James Brown

Playlist: The Very Best of James Brown

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This James Brown collection from Sony's Playlist series offers a bit of a mixed bag. With singles largely plucked from his 1980s output and featuring several mid-'90s live versions of some of his best-known tracks -- ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "(I Got You) I Feel Good" -- it offers a rather uneven representation of Brown's legendary, and often difficult career. In spite of their dated production values, tracks like "Unity," his 1984 collaboration with rapper Afrika Bambaataa, remain an interesting experiment, but even in their later days, his razor-sharp live band provides the biggest highlights on this compilation. The strong live versions of "Cold Sweat, Pt.1" and "Make It Funky" are Brown and his crew doing what they do best.

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