James Brown was a prolific songwriter, performer, singer, bandleader, and one of the most iconic figures in funk and soul music. He wrote over 925 compositions and released 99 full length albums. Born on May 3, 1933 into extreme poverty, James Brown worked his way to the top of the funk and R&B music scene earning the moniker “The Godfather of Soul”. Brown was also renowned for his work in social activism, both in his songwriting (“America Is My Home”, “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud”) and his advocacy of the benefits of education for schoolchildren (“Stay In School, Don’t Be A Dropout”). His spinning moves on stage, his signature splits, his trademark evangelical attire that frequently featured a cape, and his impromptu lyrics are all indelible byproducts of his genius. His unique vocal and musical style inspired artists of all genres including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Sly Stone, Prince, and Michael Jackson. He is also the most sampled artist in hip hop, with over 1200 confirmed sampled recordings.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 1 (1956-1960)
In the annals of popular music, one artist reigns supreme as the No. 1 R&B Singles Artist of All Time: James Brown. By far.
Now, on the 50th Anniversary of Brown’s professional recording debut, Hip-oSelect.com releases the first in a series of 2-CD collections chronicling every single from “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business.” Kicking off the series is The Federal Years: 1956-1960, with 40 songs, from the first hit, the Top 5 “Please, Please, Please,” which remains his signature sign-off, to “Think,” which showcased the sound of things to come. Brown and the Famous Flames had signed with King Records in January, 1956, and as a young, unproven act were placed with King’s Federal subsidiary label.
These 40 tracks alone make for a historic and compelling collection, as Brown went from a hit his first time out, to his future being in jeopardy – eight flops in a row! – to becoming one of the best R&B acts in the country. But Hip-OSelect adds an extraordinary bonus track: the long-lost demo for “Try Me,” which when re-recorded in New York, became Brown’s first of many R&B No. 1 hits. The demo is rough-sounding – it was transferred from an extremely rare, recently discovered acetate – but it’s a unique and exclusive glimpse into the inner workings of a young James Brown and The Famous Flames.
James Brown – The Federal Years: 1956-1960 includes a 28-page booklet filled with track-by-track annotations, anecdotes and detailed session information. Every page of the beautifully designed package includes a rare photograph or artifact, from early publicity pictures to 1950s poster reproductions. Introduced by Brown biographer Cliff White, the set’s main essay is by former Brown PR and tour director Alan Leeds; both, along with the compilation producer Harry Weinger, are GRAMMY® winners for the James Brown box set, Star Time.
By the end of 1960, Brown had had enough hits to elevate him to King Records proper. That story, and the ones to follow, is in future volumes of “The James Brown Singles”.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 2 (1960-1963)
Just before his passing, James Brown was delivered several copies of Volume 1: The Federal Years in this series. Mr. Brown sent word the set happily inspired him to reminisce about his early days. He was pleased that we were documenting his legacy as a prolific singles artist. Soul Brother Number One was ready for Volume (or should that be “Part”) 2.
You got it, Godfather. The music lives on.
Following the rough and raw early days recording for the Federal subsidiary of King Records detailed in Volume 1, which featured his earliest hits and many misses, comes the next 2-disc volume in the long and glorious history of James Brown’s many singles.
James Brown: The Singles 1960-1963 charts the beginning of Brown’s chart breakthrough, when “Prisoner Of Love” hit the Pop Top 20, “Night Train” was the party record, and “Lost Someone” was a ballad smash that became the centerpiece of his live show. JB demanded his act become self-contained, and soon the touring circuit was ablaze when James Brown came to town.
One of the reasons for the explosion: Brown was now signed to King.
“Mr. Nathan finally realized I was too strong for Federal,” says Brown. “Being on King meant you got more support from the company.”
This new volume documents every 45 – every A and B side – released those three important years. Another highlight among many is the single version of “Bewildered,” Mr. Dynamite’s cover of a No. 1 Perry Como classic that went Top 10 R&B and Top 40 Pop. When it’s over, you may forget anyone else but James Brown ever recorded it.
An amazing bonus on the set: JB’s original demo version of the tune, recorded back in 1958 when Brown and the Famous Flames were about to get dropped by their label. It was cut at the same session as the demo for “Try Me” heard on Volume 1.
As with the first set, the booklet includes a detailed track by track overview, with full credits, chart numbers, quotes and anecdotes.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 3 (1964-1965)
The James Brown Singles series continues with a mid-’60s explosion on Vol. 3…
In this stunning 36-track collection, James Brown evolves from the Hardest Working Man In Show Business to Soul Brother No. 1 as he takes control of his recording career. Through two years of turmoil, JB establishes an independent production company; produces, in quick succession, the top 10 hits “Out Of Sight,” “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)”; appears in two major teen films; fashions a series of jazz-funk instrumental albums; emerges an international superstar.
James Brown – The Singles Volume 3: 1964-65 chronicles this evolution with every A- and B-side from those two years, and not just the big hits: included are all of King Records’ releases plucked from earlier albums, or previously issued singles, like “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me,” with string and/or applause overdubs. Also here are the rare instrumental singles on the Smash label, where JB ended up during his contractual fight with King. Also included are the vocal singles on Smash, the evolutionary “Out Of Sight” and the early, withdrawn version of “I Got You,” featured in the film Ski Party. And then there’s the Brown band instrumental “Soul Food,” credited to sax player Al “Brisco” Clark.
This collection’s package features a booklet as richly detailed as the previous two volumes. Former Brown staffer Alan Leeds offers insights to every track, along with detailed recording data and song annotations. Each page is graced with rare photos, poster images, and memorabilia, putting you right in the moment of James Brown becoming JAMES BROWN.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 4 (1966-1967)
James Brown: The Singles Vol. 4: 1966-1967, the next edition in this acclaimed series,focuses on the Hardest Working Man In Show Business in the midst of an extraordinary hit streak. Opening in 1966 with “Ain’t That A Groove,” the set follows JB as he courts convention with the string-laden “It's A Man's Man's Man's World” while further exploding the boundaries of R&B and pop music with his extraordinary “Cold Sweat” in mid-’67. He also records his first Christmas album, and fights with his record company while cutting funky instrumentals for another.
Whether fronting his own ever-expanding band or grooving with New York studio musicians, JB was on fire. The story, track by amazing track, is right here.
James Brown: The Singles Vol. 4 also includes the great Brown hits “Money Won’t Change You,” “Let Yourself Go” and “Get It Together,” among many others. Rarities include the promotional, personal messages included on several of his singles that were available only to radio stations; the previously unavailable dance single “It’s A Gas”; and several alternate pressings. As with previous volumes, the set features a beautifully designed booklet with rare pictures, memorabilia and detailed track-by-track annotations by GRAMMY®-winner and former Brown employee Alan Leeds.
Each 2-CD volume in the series, James Brown: The Singles, documents every seven-inch single release by JB. All tracks are mastered from the original singles masters—many for the first time--whereas previous James Brown CD releases used LP or new mixes, and several tracks appear here on CD for the first time, ever.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 5 (1967-1969)
Haight turned to hate in 1968 with very public, grotesque assassinations, a surge of violence in – and dissent toward – the Viet Nam War, and battles in America’s cities. Out of the turbulence, James Brown emerged as the voice of – and to – the people. Polydor Records and www.hip-oselect.com proudly present James Brown: The Singles, Vol. 5: 1967-1969, 43 tracks on 2CDs from the eye of the storm.
The set opens with “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me),” featuring James backed by The Dapps, a white soul band from Cincinnati. (One can only speculate if Neal Sugarman and Gabriel Roth took their inspiration from “I Can’t Stand Myself”’s backing band when they launched Daptone Records and Sharon Jones’ backing band, The Dap-Kings.) The set continues with “I Got The Feelin’” and its b-side “If I Ruled The World,” which James opened his August 26, 1968 Dallas concert with, as Chicago spiraled into chaos. (The Dallas show can be found on the Polydor release Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68.)
Also featured are “America Is My Home - Pts. 1&2,” “Licking Stick – Licking Stick - Pts. 1&2” (in mono and stereo), “There Was A Time,” “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud - Pts. 1 & 2,” “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose,” “Soul Pride - Pts. 1 & 2” and Marva Whitney’s “You Got To Have A Job (If You Don’t Work-You Can’t Eat),” plus radio i.d.’s and the Christmas singles “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto” and “Let’s Unite The Whole World At Christmas.”
28 page booklet with rare photos and ephemera, detailed sessionography and in-depth track histories accompanies.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 6 (1969-1970)
James Brown: The Singles Volume 6: 1969-1970 is another amazing edition in the acclaimed series documenting every James Brown 45 RPM single release. It also is a look at the last hurrah of the famed sixties James Brown Orchestra, as the new, 39-track 2-CD set focuses on the final recordings of Soul Brother No. 1 to be led by Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis. Volume 6 includes some of the fiercest and most influential records Brown ever made—the timeless “Funky Drummer” for one—plus discarded singles and rare promo-only mixes.
Disc 1 kicks off with one of those influential grooves that was set aside: “You Got To Have A Mother For Me,” a planned single that was recast a few months later as the smash hit “Mother Popcorn”; both original versions are now on CD for the first time. In fact, all of JB’s “Popcorn” singles of the era are on this set, from his popular instrumental “The Popcorn,” recorded on stage after a gig in Dallas, to the epic “Let A Man Come In And Do The Popcorn.”
Other hot tracks on the set include “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself),” a top 5, non-LP single; “The Chicken,” a B-side that was subsequently covered by Jaco Pastorius and has become a staple of college jazz ensembles and funk cover bands; the macho, super funky “It’s A New Day,” which became a live powerhouse; and “Brother Rapp,” another non-LP classic that can now also be heard in its original form—“The Brother Got To Rap,” which features Maceo Parker’s original call-and-response solo that was muted in the final mix when he and the band left in a dispute with the boss.
The centerpiece of the era is a single found on Disc 2 that, when first released in 1970, barely nudged into the R&B Top 20—“Funky Drummer,” a follow-up of sorts to the hit jam “Ain’t It Funky Now.” Its brief drum solo at the end of Part 2 drew in hip-hop and pop’s greatest artists and producers and, as a sample in their tracks, effectively launched the modern hip-hop era.
Additional rarities found on Volume 6 include Brown’s Christmas holiday single; his “brotherhood” single “World,” including the “Part 2” that has never been available anywhere since the original 45 release; a cover of Chuck Jackson’s “Any Day Now,” which was mixed and readied for release but ultimately pulled; and, after the famed James Brown Band dissolved, an early version of “Talkin’ Loud And Saying Nothin’,” later a funk classic but in this incarnation an unusual rock-funk experiment led by arranger Dave Matthews.
James Brown: The Singles Volume 6: 1969-1970 is the final chapter of James Brown and his amazing sixties band. All of the singles, A- and B- sides are here, released and otherwise, offering a window into an extraordinary sound and time. The collection is as usual supplemented by a collectible booklet featuring rare photos, memorabilia and fantastic liner notes by Alan Leeds, the Grammy®-winning writer and former Brown publicist and tour manager.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 7 (1969-1970)
In The Singles Volume 7: 1970-1972, the newest 2-CD set in the acclaimed series documenting every James Brown 45 RPM single release, the classic James Brown Orchestra is no more; JB has hired—in the middle of a show, and flown in—a band of hungry teens from Cincinnati, featuring the incredible tandem of brothers Bootsy and Phelps “Catfish’” Collins, on bass and lead guitar, respectively. They are augmented by a smaller horn section, and anchored by veterans Bobby Byrd and John “Jabo” Starks. Brown calls them “The J.B.’s."
James Brown immediately gets a fresh brand of funk and revitalizes his career at the moment he had, perhaps, lost a bit of momentum. “Sex Machine,” featuring JB and Byrd in an exciting call-and-response, hits right out the box. Then, in quick succession, instant smashes: “Super Bad,” “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” and “Soul Power.” (In between are a few tangent single releases, including the rare “Hey America” and its instrumental B-side, and a great Public Service Announcement.) Then, just like that, 11 months after lighting up the JBE, the J.B.’s are also gone.
Returning band director Fred Wesley helms the new recruits. The groove is simpler but super-funky and out comes more hits: “Escape-Ism,” “Hot Pants,” “Make It Funky” and “I’m A Greedy Man.” In the midst of all of this, Brown leaves his longtime label, King Records, to sign with the international conglomerate Polydor Inc.
James Brown: The Singles Volume 7, 1970-1972 charts the entire course of this volatile but explosive and creative period. JB experimented with mixes, changing his mind after a record was out; we’ve documented those. He paid tribute to disc jockey Georgie Woods on the instrumental “My Brother.” He’d hedge his funk bets and issue covers like “Spinning Wheel,” or a new version of such old songs as “Just Won’t Do Right,” in a duet with newcomer Lyn Collins, and “I Cried,” originally performed by Tammy Montgomery (a.k.a. Tammi Terrell) on a single produced by Brown. And after he had said goodbye to the Collins-dominated J.B.’s, he returned to their funk version of “Talking Loud And Saying Nothing” and released it on Polydor, a full 18 months after it was recorded. James Brown was again hitting on all cylinders.
Our CD booklet for Vol. 7 again complements the incredible music, with detailed notes, track annotations, recording data, memorabilia and rare photos from the archives of Alan Leeds, the Grammy®-winning writer and former Brown publicist and tour manager.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 8 (1972-1973)
Get ready for another exiting round of genius grooves from James Brown in The Singles Vol. 8: 1972-1973, a new 2-CD set in the acclaimed series that illuminates when JB became “The Godfather Of Soul.”
By this era, Black music was shifting – fast. “Sixties veterans Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield managed to evolve with the changing times, but relative newcomers Isaac Hayes, Al Green and Barry White loomed as the last of a dying breed,” writes compiler and former James Brown staffer Alan Leeds in the set’s liner notes. “The era of the stage shaking, Gospel-based Southern soul man was all but over… Established stars, like Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett and Jackie Wilson, couldn’t buy a hit record. Somehow, James Brown was still standing.”
Standing he was, rocking the globe with “Get On The Good Foot,” “There It Is” and “I Got Ants In My Pants”; cautioning youth with the antidrug tale “King Heroin;” helping deliver hits for his super-funky band The J.B.’s with irresistible tracks “Pass The Peas” and “Doing It To Death,” now an all-time classic. He also experimented: a pop duet with Lyn Collins, “What My Baby Needs Now Is A Little More Lovin’”; a remake of his hit “Think”; a rare cover of The Beatles’ “Something”; working with bandleader Fred Wesley on the score to Black Caesar, resulting in the hits “Down And Out In New York City” and “Sexy Sexy Sexy.”
Several rarities give the package extra collectability: an unreleased vocal version of “Hot Pants Road”; the single version of “Honky Tonk”; the U.K.-only release “I Know It’s True”; the rare mono promo mix of “Ants”; the rare single cover version of “Watermelon Man” by Wesley that features JB on drums; and a second re-cut of “Think.”
All tracks have been newly remastered from the analog singles masters, sounding better than ever – and several of the original single mixes are now on CD for the first time. The set is accompanied, as with previous releases, by a booklet thick with detailed track annotations, track-by-track anecdotes that serve as a James Brown career timeline, rare photos and reproductions of memorabilia from back in the day, and a sessionography complete with recording dates and band personnel.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 9 (1973-1975)
In 1973, James Brown, having renamed himself “Godfather of Soul,” was at a crossroads: younger acts, nurtured by his original funk, were on the rise. His hits were not coming so fast; his tours were suffering. He responded with some of the nastiest, longest-lasting funk he’d ever unleashed: “The Payback.” “Same Beat.” “Stoned To The Bone.” “My Thang.” “Funky President,” now a classic sampler’s staple. And much, much more. It’s all documented on The Singles Vol. 9: 1973-1975, the latest entry in the long-running James Brown series from Hip-oSelect.com.
The Singles Vol. 9 includes 35 tracks from the prolific JB, featuring not only the hits mentioned above, but singles by tracks he produced and is prominently featured, by Lyn Collins and Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s. The 2-CD set also includes several singles scheduled for release that were not ultimately issued, such as “I Got A Good Thing,” an early prototype of “Stoned To The Bone.” Also on that list is “Let It Be Me,” a duet with Collins reflecting Brown’s fascination with Latin rhythms.
As with the eight previous volumes, the collection includes a thick booklet stuffed with rare photos, reproductions of memorabilia, an essay by former James Brown staffer Alan Leeds, and detailed track annotations.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 10 (1975-1979)
James Brown, the pillar of soul and funk, faced commercial challenges in the mid-1970s, and more often than not was losing out to the young cats who had built their grooves on his innovations. But Godfather JB never gave up – never stopped touring or recording. In The Singles Vol. 10: 1975-1979, the long-running James Brown reissue series from Hip-oSelect.com, we get every track released, including a few long-lost nuggets, from this period. Among this era’s classics are the worldwide hits “Get Up Offa That Thing” and “It’s Too Funky In Here.”
The Singles Vol. 10: 1975-1979 features 36 tracks from the always-prolific James Brown and a changing cast of J.B.’s. The music here leans a little heavier to disco, and JB was now calling himself the “Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk.” Other hits from the period include “Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)” – a funky cop of David Bowie’s “Fame” – the top 20 R&B hits “I Refuse To Lose,” “Body Heat” and “Give Me Some Skin,” as well as the underrated “Spank,” “If You Don’t Give A Dogone About It” and “Kiss In 77,” an uncharacteristic ballad that became a staple of the Brown live show.
Rare tracks on the collection include “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs,” a tribute to the University of Georgia football team; covers of the Elvis Presley hit “Love Me Tender” and the standard “Summertime”; and “Everybody Wanna Get Funky One More Time,” a “lost” J.B.’s single that was the last on the People label.
Complementing the previous nine volumes, The Singles Vol. 10: 1975-1979 includes a thick booklet with liner notes from James Brown staffer Alan Leeds summarizing every track, an introductory essay, a detailed recording timeline, rare photos, and reproductions of memorabilia.
James Brown - The Singles, Volume 11 (1979-1981)
The Singles Vol. 11: 1979-1981 closes a chapter on a successful in-depth series on one of the towering figures in popular music.
Through the previous 10 volumes, Hip-oSelect.com has documented the many classic—and some not-so memorable—singles issued by Mr. Dynamite, the Amazing Mr. Please Please Please Himself, the Hardest Working Man In Show Business, the Godfather Of Soul. From “Please Please Please” to “Try Me,” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” to “Cold Sweat,” “The Payback” to “It’s Too Funky In Here,” and all of the B-sides and rare cuts in between, the series now delivers on its promise: every single issued by James Brown from 1956-1981, in a run of meticulously presented 2-CD sets.
Disc 1 of Vol. 11 features 19 tracks from Brown at the end of his Polydor tenure and includes all of the 7-inch singles issued by Brown on Polydor that followed “It’s Too Funky In Here,” his chart return from 1979. Among them are “Let The Boogie Do The Rest,” a B-side that could have been a hit, while “Regrets” is a country-flavored ballad that JB turns autobiographical. JB also released a fiery live album, Hot On The One, during this period, and stomping stage versions of “Get Up Offa That Thing” and “It’s Too Funky” were issued as singles. Also included is “I Go Crazy,” a cover of a previous hit that was only issued as a single in the U.K.
Incredibly, with time left on his Polydor contract Brown was allowed to record an independent album for the TK label, and from that session came “Rapp Payback,” a stinging performance that hit the international charts and is included here.
Disc 2 of Vol. 11 features an additional nine songs: rare 12-inch singles from the man who created the extended jam, including long versions of “Get Up Offa That Thing” and “Rapp Payback.”
As with previous volumes, The Singles Vol. 11: 1975-1979 includes a thick booklet with liner notes from James Brown staffer Alan Leeds summarizing every track, an introductory essay and epilogue, a detailed recording timeline, rare photos, and reproductions of memorabilia.