WHO IS HE? Soul Brother No. 1. The Hardest-Working Man in Show Biz. The Godfather of Soul. Mr Dynamite. Mr. Please Please Please. Mr. Excitement. Inmate Number 155413. And yes, His Bad Self. Though I suspect James Brown has also heard a few less-complimentary epithets from disgruntled former sidemen who didn’t appreciate his dictatorial methods, parsimonious ways and onstage fines for flubbed notes.
WHAT IS THIS? A live album that was recorded 50 years ago this month but never released in its entirety. The back story: This Augusta concert features the classic late-’60s lineup that included sax master Maceo Parker and Clyde Stubblefield on drums. But before this double LP could be released, most of that band walked out over a pay dispute — told you — and were replaced by star-powered bassist Bootsy Collins and his guitarist brother Catfish. They drove the band in a heavier and funkier direction with the song Sex Machine, released months later on the album of the same name — which was padded out with excerpts from this show.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? You kind of already know, if you’ve heard the half-dozen previously released cuts. This 70-minute version adds nine previously shelved songs and introductions, along with extended versions of edited tracks, thus restoring the album’s original 18-track set list. Plus it’s been newly mixed and mastered.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Try Me Now. Or maybe Papa’s Got a Brand New Old Bag.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While trying and failing to understand what possessed Brown to include an instrumental version of Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Spinning Wheel in the set.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Vintage, groovy, refurbished, invigorating, welcoming, uplifting, inspiring, soulful, bluesy, driven.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Classics like Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud, I Got the Feelin’/Licking Stick, Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose and Mother Popcorn.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘Better late than never — but did it have to be this late?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? It’s more of a historic document than an indispensable performance, but it’s still got enough highlights to keep it on your playlist for a while.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A MEDICAL PROCEDURE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Plastic-surgery reversal.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Stream it with your bad self.