Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

This week we're turning our attention to the late, great James Brown's The Singles series. The most recent entries cover the first half of the 1960s within two double-CD volumes.

James Brown -- The Singles Volume Two: 1960 - 1963 (Hip-O Select)
James Brown -- The Singles Volume Three: 1964 - 1965 (Hip-O Select)

This pair of soul-filled packages follow in the footsteps of the critically-lauded debut installment with every A & B side that Brown issued between 1960 and 1965. On Volume Two, things really start to take off for Soul Brother #1. After being picked up by the King label -- whose distribution was significantly wider than that of Brown's former Federal Records imprint -- he began his rapid ascension into the R&B and eventually Pop surveys.

Included are the original single versions of Brown's seminal hits "Bewildered," "I Don't Mind," "Baby, You're Right," "Lost Someone," "Night Train," "Shout And Shimmy," "Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.," "Three Hearts In A Tangle," "Like A Baby," "Prisoner Of Love," "These Foolish Things," "Signed, Sealed, And Delivered" -- which shouldn't be confused with the Stevie Wonder song -- and the two-part "Oh Baby Don't You Weep". Plus, there are a few one-off rarities, such as the 78 rpm test pressing of Brown's demo for "Bewildered." Or the equally uncommon "Cross Firing" b/w "Night Flying" instrumentals that were to have been issued in late 1961 before the 45 rpm platter was ultimately recalled and/or cancelled.

Volume Three picks right up with 36 further selections that solidify Brown's stature as the undisputed Hardest Working Man In Show Business. The mid '60s proved to be the turning point for Brown as he founds his own independent production company, while continuing to write, perform and produce. And the hits just keep on coming with a remake of "Caldonia," "The Things That I Used To Do," "Out Of Sight," "Have Mercy Baby," "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag Parts I & II," "Try Me," "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Lost Someone," all making their respective impressions onto the R&B as well as Pop charts. 

Without question, the material on these anthologies has never sounded better. Nor has it ever been as carefully annotated. The liner notes booklets are practically as packed with visual goodies as the CDs themselves are with sonic delights. Every song has been meticulously detailed by one-time James Brown employee Alan Leeds, who provides the results of his exhaustive research. It's here that you'll find plenty of otherwise unavailable discographical data surrounded with scarcely reproduced photos and memorabilia from the era.      


Parties interested in either The Singles Volume Two: 1960 - 1963 and/or The Singles Volume Three: 1964 - 1965 should point and click to www.hiposelect.com with great haste as each title is limited to a mere 5,000 copies.


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist based out of the Piedmont of North Carolina. He's a  frequent contributor to All Music Guide, All Movie Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and the Gaston Gazette.
All comments and questions are encouraged and can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


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