James Brown

The Singles, Vol. 3: 1964-1965

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The Universal Music Group's Hip-O Select imprint is an Internet mail-order division devoted to high-priced, limited-edition collections of music from the Universal vaults. Its James Brown series, starting with The Singles, Vol. 1: The Federal Years: 1956-1960 and continuing with The Singles, Vol. 2: 1960-1963, has presented Brown's recordings as they were issued in chronological order on 45-rpm records. While that has meant skipping over LP tracks, especially in the second volume, and sequencing somewhat out of order of actual recording dates, it's an approach that has given a good sense of Brown's musical progression. Unfortunately, complications in Brown's career make The Singles, Vol. 3: 1964-1965 a bit of a mess. At the end of 1963, Brown entered into a contract dispute with his record label, King Records. He stopped recording for King and even signed a contract with another label, Smash Records (a subsidiary of Mercury Records). But King went right on putting out Brown singles by delving into its catalog of LP tracks and altering other previously released recordings without Brown's knowledge, much less permission. For example, Brown's Live at the Apollo album had been a big success in 1963, so King overdubbed screams and applause onto Brown's 1956 recording "Please, Please, Please" to make it sound like a live performance and re-released it as a single in January 1964; it's now the opening track here. Meanwhile, Brown was uncertain of his direction, and his first recordings for Smash included forays into covers of jump blues (Louis Jordan's "Caldonia") and straight blues (Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do") to which his fans did not respond. Like an obsessive record collector cuing up one single after another, this album dutifully follows the peculiar month-by-month progression of King's barrel-scrapings interspersed with Brown's floundering, as the recording dates of the tracks jump back and forth. The listening experience from this uneven and inconsistent material is jarring. Eventually, Brown found his feet and came to an accommodation with King in time to cut such classics as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," which appear toward the end of the second disc. But in the meantime, this is an album of tracks with a selection and sequencing that make sense only to a discographer.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:46 Amazon
2 02:41 Amazon
3 02:34 Amazon
4 03:08 Amazon
5 02:43 Amazon
6
02:52 Amazon
7 02:52 Amazon
8 02:15 Amazon
9 02:47 Amazon
10 02:06 Amazon
11
02:06 Amazon
12
02:25 Amazon
13
02:25
14
03:00
15 02:13 Amazon
16 02:54 Amazon
17 02:01 Amazon
18 02:32 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
02:14 Amazon
2 02:43
3 02:11 Amazon
4 02:11
5 02:19
6 02:45 Amazon
7 02:47 Amazon
8 02:45 Amazon
9
02:30
10 02:53
11 02:09
12 02:11 Amazon
13 03:09 Amazon
14 02:42 Amazon
15 02:49
16 02:35 Amazon
17 02:44 Amazon
18 02:17 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick