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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

James Brown Live At The Apollo

James Brown

1963

James Brown Live At The Apollo

Album Summary

Live at the Apollo is the first live album by James Brown and the Famous Flames, recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and released in 1963 by King Records. The album is included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981). In 2000 it was voted number 248 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2003, the album was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list, and re-ranking at number 65 in a 2020 reboot of the list. In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 1998, this album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.49

Votes

5938

Genres

  • Funk
  • Soul
Reviews
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View Author
Thu Jan 21 2021
4

This man will make your liver quiver! This man will make your bladder splatter! This man will make your knees freeze! If you will let’s all welcome the worlds Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, JAMES BROWN!!! 1001 Albums To Hear Before You Die Day 9. I FEEL GOOD!! The album for today is Live At The Apollo (1962). Let me start by saying that it would be an impossible task to find another more influential artist in the history of modern music and dance. The best you can convince me of, is that he’s had some equals along the way, though few and far between. Now that we have that settled, I thought to myself, what’s my first memory of James Brown and his funky, soulful music? My first conscience memory is Living In America, the super smash, Grammy winning song that also just happened to be in the blockbuster film Rocky IV in 1986. Seeing The Godfather Of Funk giving an explosive performance in that movie moments before Apollo Creed would die in the ring against Ivan Drago changed my childhood. Apollo the boxer died in the movie. Live at the Apollo from Mr. Brown lives on forever. Mr. Please Please Please was only 29 when he recorded this live album at the historic Apollo Theater, a theater named after a Greek God that hosted many, many musical Gods over the years. Brown paid for this project out of his own pocket as his label didn’t think he held the same appeal to deliver a live recording that someone like Sam Cooke had at the time. In early ‘63 this album came out and it was so popular that it was hard to find a copy. Record stores bought cases upon cases in order to meet the demand, and if you found a copy, you had to share it with the whole household, and it was played so much that when you finally wore it out you had to re-up. Most of Mr. Dynamite’s biggest hits weren’t even recorded yet in 1962. Deciding to showcase his best repertoire at the time in a live setting was a genius move. Sure, James Brown sounded just as good on his records as he did in his live performances, but there is an electricity in hearing it live, even if it’s just on an 8-track in the 60’s or Spotify in 2021. You can almost feel the vibrations of this man working up a sweat. Just listen to the crowd go berserk. On the song Lost Someone you can hear the girls in the crowd literally falling apart at the seams. James Brown had the crowd in the palm of his hands and he knew it. His band, The Famous Flames, are “Clean as a silk suit” as quoted by Robert Christgau in Rolling Stone magazine. They never miss a beat, literally. This live album has my most favorite song from The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Try Me. The passionate pleasing and soulfulness of that record, especially live, is worthy of being added to The Library Of Congress, which it has been. The first to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, James Brown sounds like a preacher at times. The way he uses the call and response technique has me in the shower damn near testifying! There’s no bad songs here. Make sure to check out Try Me, I’ll Go Crazy Night Train and Think. Also, make sure to listen to the girls losing their shit on Lost Someone. James Brown is The Godfather of not only Soul, but of Funk, Pop, and Hip Hop as well. He is the highest sampled artist in the world. His work has been borrowed a record smashing 7,413 times over the years. Listen to his song Funky Drummer and you’ll get the idea. James Brown is the Johnny Appleseed of music and I’m grateful for him.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
3

1) All music since James Brown is a failed attempt to match his rhythm. Discuss. 2) Please explain why more albums should have seprate tracks for instrumental bridges. 3) Somewhere in these 31 minutes is the formula for Al Green's music. Please represent this as a mathematical equation, showing your workings. 4) James Brown never released a particularly good studio album, but is still responsible for much of the best music of the 20th century. Did he know something we don't?

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

What a performer. I remember hearing how JB would be furious if he heard any member of the band slip out of time or play a bum note. It’s tight as all hell and funky as a washerman’s dishcloth. If the mix was a little better we could appreciate it in all glory, but the scratchy, tinny sound, backed by the screaming fans really takes me back to those sweaty, heady early 60’s club nights. Much fun.

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Sat May 22 2021
2

He's a good singer and the instrumentals are decent but the live element of this is just much too irritating. Theres so much background sceaming and talking that I just cant enjoy it

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Mon Apr 05 2021
2

Probably blasphemy to some but I found this totally underwhelming. There wasn't even a fake walk off.

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Sat Jan 16 2021
5

Love the interaction with the audience! And this must be where Michael Jackson got the influence for his "Aowh!"

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Thu Jul 01 2021
5

Good live album. Crowd can get a bit in the way of listening sometimes though, lots of screaming etc.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

Short live album but demonstrates how much of an impact James Brown will have had on multiple musical genres. Brown’s voice and the band are great.

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Tue Jun 01 2021
3

Pretty good, upbeat live album. Not too memorable though

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Tue Jun 01 2021
3

James Brown rules, but there is not a ton here.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
3

What a concert to attend.Apparently it was a tough ticket to get. The band is very tight. Not sure if you watched any of the videos but there were a lot of band members to keep tight. He had quite the high pitch screams but the low quality recording didn't  do them justice. I thought by the late sixties live recordings were better quality. Might have scored higher if recording quality was better.

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Sat May 22 2021
3

I know who James Brown is, of course, but I don't think I had heard any of the songs from this album. I'm curious as to where this performance fits within context of Brown's career as a whole. I was surprised how short some of the tracks were, especially for a live performance. "Lost Someone" is the longest track, and has some of the back and forth between Brown and the audience that you might expect with a live performance. This album is fine, but I'm not sure if I'd listen to it again. 3 stars

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Tue May 18 2021
3

Dynamic, high energy R&B/Soul performance

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Sun Jan 23 2022
3

Live at the Apollo by James Brown (1963) This recording from a concert at New York City’s Apollo Theater on October 24, 1962 is a quaint look back at a moment in the career of the great R&B pioneer, James Brown. One gets a clear sense of the effect he had on an audience of 1,500, even if his own talents were imperfectly preserved (see below). The venue was the center of the urban black middle class universe at the time. The Apollo, in Harlem, was owned by Sidney Cohen and managed by Morris Sussman, catering to the well dressed and well coiffed ladies and gents who made their way to 253 West 125th Street. It sounds like they had a good (and raucous) time. The Beatles did not invent mania. The music is passionate, showy, exhilarating, and lush. James Brown’s blues voice is surpassed only by Janis Joplin’s, with its energetic and lusty flourishes and starkly contrasting smoothness, all woven together. The backing instrumental and vocal ensemble is generous and disciplined (even if the brass and reeds are not entirely in tune with one another). Among the weaknesses of the original 1963 album, one should note the faulty mix (shunting both lead and backing vocals into the right channel, and bass in the left with the gain too high), and the inconsistent vocal mic direction. The result is that James Brown’s delicious voice is frequently subdued to the point of concealment. These problems were somewhat repaired in the 1990 and 2004 reissues, but with a commensurate loss in fidelity. Also, in the live setting, the female screams (even coached along in the second half of “Lost Someone”) obliterate some of Brown’s most delicate stylings. And in slow, subdued sections (e.g., “I Found Someone”), the murmur of conversation is distracting, if not disrespectful. Plus, Brown seems to lose the audience on “Night Train”, especially at the dud ending of this final track—worst ending to a concert set I’ve ever heard. The serious listener should stick to the studio recordings, but there’s entertainment enough here to sustain interest for 32 minutes. 3/5

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Wed Jun 09 2021
2

I want to like it, but it's so hard to enjoy a live album.

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Wed Oct 07 2020
5

An absolute belter! To think the label didn't want to release it!!!

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Tue Oct 13 2020
5

FINALLY!! The HARDEST working man in show business at his best.

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Thu Nov 26 2020
5

Love his music.

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Thu Jun 03 2021
5

Shit that's good. The faster version of I got you is truly a masterpiece. James' browns voice is also one of the greats

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

I really miss live music

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Sat Mar 27 2021
5

Amazing... a lot more love songs than I expected.

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Mon Feb 15 2021
5

Big influencer on all music that followed.

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Tue May 04 2021
5

that was one intense performance - he just never stopped that whole way through. amazing, and an awesome album as well.

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

Emoji Monday: 🎵🤴🏿🕺🏿🎷🗣🎺😎🎶

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Sat Jun 05 2021
5

5 all day

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

An excellent example of what a live album can accomplish. Joyful and uplifting

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Wed Feb 03 2021
5

Decent just not my thing

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

Awesome, set the tone of the morning upbeatly

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Tue Feb 16 2021
5

Umm wow. Knew I got down with JBrown. Never this much though.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

Genial, directo mítico. Soul y funk con Brown dándolo todo. Imprescindible.

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Mon Jun 21 2021
5

Can't deny this record it's due. Live albums tend to be a showcase for an artist's greatest hits, but can get bogged down in rough performances or poor sound quality. But this 1962 recording of James Brown at the Apollo Theatre transports you there. From the M.C.'s introduction to the tight band to Brown's captivating performance, this recording is better than any greatest hits album, because it's fresh and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Fav Tracks: Lost Someone, Try Me and I Don't Mind Rating 4.5/5

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Fri Apr 23 2021
5

Amazing!!!

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Thu May 20 2021
5

Yeah man, this is good shit. But only when you're already in a good mood. Which I typically am not. 5 stars though, what a legend.

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Wed May 26 2021
5

Fire. The Famous Flames are on another planet this whole album. Tight, grooving, and fierce as hell. And James Brown is running the whole show like he might never do another. Every song has funk, soul, emotion, charisma, and raw energy. I imagine it’s only a 30 minute set because they’re all out of gas by the end.

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Fri May 07 2021
5

Brilliant album, love those old crowd noises going wild for JB

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Mon May 10 2021
5

3

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Thu Jun 24 2021
5

Neat

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Wed Aug 18 2021
5

Amazing. An incredible performer at the top of his game. Only problem is that it is too short.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
5

An album that just oozes out "60s vibes". Makes you regret the fact that you were born in the late 90s and you will never experience this era ever again in such a way as back then.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Rawer than the later records

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Tue Sep 28 2021
5

Really gives a feel for what it might have been like to see JB live. And that intro! Only knock is that the recording quality (at least the one I listened to on Spotify) is pretty bad.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

A great musician father of the soul.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

Awesome. Sexy and energic.

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Sat Nov 06 2021
5

good fun

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Mon Nov 08 2021
5

Un disc a ser degustat tot d'una, com una ràfaga huracanada de funk, r&b, soul amb un James Brown cantant com un cavall desbocat i la banda seguint-li tots a una fent de tot plegat una estona de pura màgia. Mai es fa pesat, sempre es manté fresc, per més anys, décades que passin

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

STunning

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Mon Nov 15 2021
5

A classic experience

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

King shit

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Mon Nov 29 2021
5

Damn

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

Absolute classic.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

classic

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

Wow. I mean, what can I say? It's James Brown we're talking about here, one of the hardest working entertainers we've ever seen.

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

The quality of this recording of a live performance puts a massive swath of studio albums to shame. Sure, we lose Mr. Brown a bit while he's working the crowd, but that's the price you pay to work the instrument that is the audience; and it's worth it in the long run, as the crowd swells and swoons along with the tracks. Literally every song is winner. I couldn't help but move my feet and wiggle in my seat as I listened along to tracks like "Think", "Night Train" and even the various instrumental brides. When things slowed down on "Try Me" and "I Don't Mind" I was still swaying along and hanging on every verse. This album provides a glimpse into the undeniable fact that James Brown (and his band) had mastered the art of the stage show, and that's even without being able to see his expressions and footwork. I wish I had had the chance to see them myself. That chance has passed. But I'm glad to have albums like this, so I can at least glimpse into the experience and carry the energy on in my heart.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

Yes. All day long. Hit me!

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

Brown was a tremendous performer, had a great back up band and interacted really well with the audience. Obviously what's missing here is the visual aspect, as seeing James Brown go nuts on stage must have an awesome sight. I wonder how many parties have been graced by this fab LP?!

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Sat Jan 15 2022
5

super nice

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

!!!!!!!

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

Wow! It must have been something to see James Brown Live at the Apollo in 1962! I had expected an energetic performance, and that’s what I got. Crazy to think this was happening in a year where the top song of the year was a slow clarinet instrumental. Totally enjoyed this. The interplay with the audience was great. What a recording!

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

Great fun!

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Thu Feb 17 2022
5

5.0 + It's incredible to hear the hardest working band arguably at their prime. They honed their stage performance to a non-stop onslaught of scream-inducing licks, shrieks and moans, MC'ed by arguably the greatest frontman in history. I'd say their schtick sounds too polished but then I hear James Browns' vocals on "Love Someone" - the way he digs to the bottom of his soul to convey that feeling of heartbreak, that's not a sound that can be manufactured.

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Mon Feb 21 2022
5

I'm normally not a huge fan of live albums but I'll have to make an exception for this. The energy is electric, with a feedback loop between JB and the crowd. I find it completely enthralling.

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Mon Feb 21 2022
5

This album flew by, I actually wish it was longer. It was fun to hear the audience's participation, and even more fun to hear how tight the live band is. It sounds legendary.

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Sun Mar 06 2022
5

one of the greatest live albums, the hardest working man in showbusiness giving us his all

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Wed Mar 16 2022
5

Favorite Track - I'll Go Crazy Where I was - Office How I listened - Amazon music on BT Speaker Listen Again? - Very Likely

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

Sensational.

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Mon Apr 18 2022
5

I don't always love James Brown, but this is him at his absolute best. I would imagine this is only a portion of the entire show, but he packs a ton into 32 minutes on this record.

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Mon Apr 18 2022
5

Talk about tearing the roof off the house. 'nuff said.

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Mon May 02 2022
5

Love James Brown, great live performance

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Tue May 03 2022
5

Hot! In the Hot Tub!

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Tue May 17 2022
5

Wow. This is an absolutely stunning live album. James Brown brings it all. The power, intensity and emotion here just rock me to my core. The track listing is basically useless, because this whole thing is the event, not to be itemized. The screams of feedback from the frenzied crowd are an essential part of the mix here, basically acting as an instrument. I feel that this would be impossible to replicate now, truly a relic of a different era. My only complaint is that it's not longer, but perfection is fleeting, so we must accept the rare moments when it does arise. Fav Tracks: The whole damn thing

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Tue May 17 2022
5

Feel-good, singalong blues performance for the ages. The recording has held up extremely well and should remain timeless. The man has a great voice and has a way of captivating your attention on any of his albums. Fave tracks: I Don't Mind, Lost Someone, Night Train

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Sat Jul 16 2022
5

What an experience. The whole album was so fun and full of soul. The seamless transitions between songs caught me off-guard, felt like i was just listening to one long song and it felt so effortless. Epic!

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

oh man... to be at that show. God that would have been fun. For the hardest working man in show biz... this is a pretty short record though. Still amazing.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
5

Un bel album de funk, j'adore j'aime brown et cet album est un de ces classique. Je l'ai ecoute en courant et crla ne m'a pas rendu l'energie que j'ao habituellement avec les albuns de funk. Cepe dant, c'estun album live! Les musiciens sont tellemrnt tight c'est incroyable 5*

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Tue Aug 09 2022
5

The one thing I marvel about this live set is how tight it is. It's only slightly over a half hour, and there's no mic talk "hey how you all doing?" "Here's a song about..." "Blah Blah Blah" They just go right into each song, bing bang boom. I figured that most of James Brown's live songs would be pretty short, I was surprised that there was at least one song he REALLY stretched out. The medleys were pretty cool, too. So energetic, and the band was just aMAZing. Just great stuff.

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Thu Aug 11 2022
5

Oh Shit. This is going to be great. Wow, I loved the intro where he told the crowd what to expect. My man was 30 when this was recorded and he sounded like he was 60. I mean any album with Try me on it will get 5 stars automatically, that song is sooooo amazing. His command of an audience is incredible. They are hanging on every word.

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Thu Aug 11 2022
5

Is this the greatest live album ever recorded?Maybe. Is James Brown undeniable? Without a doubt. The crisp drums, the funky bass, the horns - everything perfect. Even the crowd screaming and yelling in the background is perfect. I own this on Vinyl and it's not played enough. James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, and If you want to see something crazy, go see the list on Wikipedia.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

One of the tightest albums ever, live or studio. Also, it’s James Brown. Also also the crowd’s enthusiasm is infectious. And a bunch of other things

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

It's James Brown.

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Sat Sep 03 2022
5

Classic James Brown in his prime.

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Tue Sep 06 2022
5

The man, the legend himself, on a live album! It makes his music come to life so much more with the sound of the crowd. It's an whole other experience than listening to an studio albums. And that says alot since I'm not really into live albums that much. Listening to this album makes you long for a warm, sweaty soul party. Great listening!

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Mon Sep 19 2022
5

10/10 based and redpilled

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Tue Sep 20 2022
5

Pure Energy

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Tue Sep 27 2022
5

One of the best live albums of all time. A genius at the height of his powers. Listen to that band! How tight is that horn section?? I could listen to this a thousand times and never get bored.

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

The fandom and the soul. Really great album.

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Mon Oct 10 2022
5

Definitive James Brown. Lost Someone is sad :(

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Thu Oct 20 2022
5

Funky and awesome. The screams of the ladies in the audience reacting to James Brown are equally entertaining to the performance of the Father of the Get Down.

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Sat Oct 22 2022
5

What an animal.

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Tue Nov 01 2022
5

ESPETACULAR

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Tue Nov 01 2022
5

Goddamn he was good. James Brown's influence on soul, R&B, and the development of funk is well known, but it really has to be heard to be believed. Brown knew exactly what to do to get his audience to react exactly as he wanted them to. His band is tight and he is the consumate showman.

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Tue Nov 08 2022
5

Brilliant album, cool, groovy, I like anything else. Greasy, edgy, smooth, gospel, soulful funk goodness. Short too, which I like

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Sat Nov 12 2022
5

Great album

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Mon Nov 14 2022
5

fantastic

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Fri Dec 02 2022
5

One of the best live records of all time. So explosive and expressive. A must listen.

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Sat Dec 10 2022
5

It’s amazing to hear the showman in his prime. If they had edited the crowd cheers out it could easily be a fast paced studio album. The sound production is really good.

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Mon Dec 12 2022
5

had never heard that much james brown, so good to hear the og's

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Mon Dec 19 2022
5

good

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Fri Jan 06 2023
5

"Live At The Apollo" is a live album by James Brown and The Famous Flames (backing vocalists) recorded at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and released by Key Records. It was recorded at James Brown's expense and was a huge success reaching #2 on the Billboard album charts. It is also recognized as one of the successful examples of the Chitlin' Circuit which were venues in the US East, South and Midwest providing commercial acceptance of African American entertainers. Considered one of the best live albums ever, the album was also added to The National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004 and also the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. The album begins with Fats Gonder introducing James as the hardest working man in show business and also introducing The Famous Flames. And he probably was performing roughly 300 shows a year at the time. The horns and guitar begin "I'll Go Crazy" and we're off and running. James shouts "I Feel All Right." Fans screaming. Lots of fan screaming during this album. "Try Me" has great backing vocals and is more in the doo-wop style. James crooning. Horns come in at the end rolling right into "Think." More fast paced; they're groovin' now. Horn heavy and even clapping. The 10-minute "Lost Someone" slows things up. James screams, goes soulful and gets the audience involved especially the females. The next song is a medley of six songs including "Pleae, Please, Please" and "I Found Someone" It's pretty unique in its medley approach basically jumping from each song stanzas to the next song's. I guess that what a medley is. The medley transition right into the last song which is James Brown's version of Duke Ellington's " Night Train." More audience involvement. An interesting end with the horns and strings. I had the chance to see James Brown in the early 90's and didn't. Something I still regret especially after seeing the video of him at Bonnaroo from 2003. He still had it. This was a great pick-me-up on this gloomy/snowy Thursday.

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Sun Jan 08 2023
5

Brilliant live album Referential performance

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Mon Jan 09 2023
5

Great album

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