A flood of never-before-heard music will accompany ‘Get On Up,’ including updates from a Chris Brown and Britney Spears producer
The soundtrack to Get On Up features 20 James Brown recordings, including unreleased live versions of “Please, Please, Please” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” from a 1966 show in Tampa, Fla. And it provides Universal Music Enterprises, owners of Brown’s extensive catalog, a shot at expanding his fan base.
“We have the opportunity to grow the legacy and brand,” says UMe president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff. “That’s the big piece of the puzzle we haven’t seen in prior soundtracks.”
Brown’s singles charted consistently from 1958 to 1977, and his music has echoed in decades after, especially within hip-hop. He may well be the most-sampled artist of all time, but contemporary hip-hop fans are often unaware of the source, a disconnect that Resnikoff hopes to rectify. “The film becomes a great tentpole,” he says. “It allows us to reach an audience that in the past we haven’t been successful necessarily with his music.”
Producers tapped Chris Brown and Britney Spears producer Harvey Mason Jr. – who also worked on the soundtrack to Dreamgirls – to sweeten tracks with newly recorded rhythm sections and horn tracks in order to “fill the room in the 2014 theater way,” says Get On Up music supervisor Margaret Yen. Five cuts on the soundtrack are the enhanced versions, with “Caldonia” being the most extreme: It’s Brown’s vocal from 1964 with backing tracks from 2013.
“We wanted to play versions people hadn’t heard before,” says Yen. “If we just played music off Live at the Apollo, it just wouldn’t have been as exciting. We wanted it so what you’re seeing is what you’re hearing.”
The coming months will bring even more Brown material, including an unreleased Live at the Apollo show from 1972. UMe will also handle distribution of the Alex Gibney-directed documentary on Brown next year.
“We live in a very visual world and aside from the movie, we have to get people to see the original footage that shows James Brown performing these songs,” says Resnikoff. “It’s as important as the songs themselves.”