Star Time

This is a 4 disc box set.  It’s the fourth box set on the list, following the Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, and Phil Spector boxes (I don’t count the 2 disc Elvis or Muddy Waters compilations as box sets).  I got it off ebay for $15.69 and it’s taken me about two weeks to listen to it thoroughly.  James Brown was pretty prolific, and this box set is pretty comprehensive, clocking in at about 4 hours and 45 minutes of the original funk soul brother.  So yeah, it’s a bear of a box set, and to be honest it all starts to blend together into one giant groove if you try to listen to too much at one time.  But individually, each disc has its own character reminiscent of the particular era of James Brown’s career.  The first disc, “Mr. Dynamite” has the early hits, many of which were featured on the Live at the Apollo album (see entry #25).  This disc has an old school rock ‘n roll feel, and there’s more than one track that would feel right at home on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack.  The second disc, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, is where the big crossover hits like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)” start to come into play.  Disc three, “Soul Brother No. 1”, brings the funk, and surprisingly I knew most of the grooves not from listening to James Brown, but from late 80s and early 90s hip hop.  I vaguely remember James Brown suing rappers for sampling his songs back in the day, but really the Godfather of Soul was also one of the Granddaddies of  Hip Hop.  This brings me to the fourth disc, actually titled “The Godfather of Soul”, which sadly shows Brown hanging on to his career by rehashing old ideas like on “I’ve Got a Bag of My Own”.  Overall, the box set is pretty good, although the studio tracks seem to lack just a little of the electricity of the live tracks.    Perhaps Brown was just one of those artists whose energy and spontaneity on stage couldn’t quite be captured in the studio.

Star Time Box Set

Other lists: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” is #71, “I Got You (I Feel Good) is 78, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is #124, “Please, Please, Please” is #143, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” is #312, and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” is #334 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This box set jumped up 4 spots from its original position of #79 on the 2003 list.

My favorite track: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1”

Honorable mention: “I Got You (I Feel Good)”

Quote: “Don’t tell me how to do my thing when you can’t, can’t, can’t do your own”