Top 100 Album Review: #79 – Star Time, James Brown (1991)

Some Things Should Never Have Happened.

This 4-CD box set is one of them. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #79/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Driving from Florida to North Carolina, I monotonously did small left or right corrections on the wheel as I headed in a straight line up I-95.  This FOUR HOUR AND FIFTY THREE MINUTE album of emphatic yelps, inaudible words, and repeated four measure horn-lines was emblematic of my drive: hundreds of miles of barren land with the occasional peak of a landmark.

James Brown has enough amazing material to make a regular greatest hits album. He does not have enough material to match the run length of Gone with the Wind and then some. The ratio of good:bad is around 1:8 making it a tough listen for the massive amount of dead weight.

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GOOD GOD (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006)

[OVERVIEW]

James Brown is one of those artists whose career spanned generations and recreated himself each decade to remain relevant. The 50s were with his band the Famous Flames with traditional juke box songs. The 60s were for the live performances and being the “Dynamite Man.” The 70s is where he became the “Godfather of Soul” and infused his music with funk with the new backing-band “The J.B.s” which included Bootsy Collins.

This box-set is a collection of music from 1956 – 1984 (this oddly enough misses out on his last Top 10 hit Living in America which was featured in Rocky IV in 1986). It won a Grammy for Best Album Notes. Wait — that’s a category?

[TRACKLISTING]

I’m not listing all seventy-one tracks for you.

[BEST TRACK: Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine]

This song is representative of the good James Brown: instant need to shake it out and get your dance on.

Bobby! Should I take ’em to the bridge? (Go ahead!)
Take ’em on to the bridge! (Take em to the bridge!)
Can I take ’em to the bridge? (Yeah!)
Take ’em to the bridge? (Go ahead!)

[BEST REMINDER OF THE PAST: Please, Please, Please]

The little bit of credit I will give this album is introducing me to 1950s James Brown. The hits of his early years seem to not make it on greatest hits compilations, but these songs are so pure and a good representation of the start of soul.

Baby, take my hand (Please, please don’t go)
I want to be your lover man, (Baby please don’t go) oh yes, good god almighty
Darling please don’t, (Don’t) yeah oh yeah, go
I love you so (Baby please don’t go)

[REPETITION IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN: Lickin Stick ]

Here is how many times James Brown repeats this phrase in less than three minutes of music:

Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick.
Mama, come here quick,
bring me that lickin’ stick

[BEST PSA TO STAY IN SCHOOL: Don’t Be a Dropout]

“Without an education,
You might as well be dead.”

Just as well said as Socrates or Plato.

[CONCLUSION]

There are few people who could fill out a 71-track album with any aplomb. Stevie Wonder’s At a Close of a Century is a successful example: 70 tracks covering 20 albums featuring every number one single and b-side goodness. This Ray Charles Anthology is another triumph even without including his songs post-1970.

James Brown just doesn’t have enough songs. I picture the reviews of this album focusing on his trail blazing and inspiration to others rather than the material. Just stick with a greatest hits album.

Other People’s Takes: 

  • Exile On High Street: “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.”
  • Andre’s Music Talk: So Star Time wasn’t only a musical lesson for myself and others. It can often be a live lesson at the same time.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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