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James Brown: Try Me [Limited Edition]

Album Notes

& His Famous Flames.

TRY ME!, a collection of Brown's pre-1960 Federal singles, was his second LP. It was previously reissued by King in 1964 as THE UNBEATABLE JAMES BROWN: 16 HITS (King 919).

Personnel includes: James Brown, Bobby Byrd (vocals); Kenny Burrell, Bobby Roach, Nafloyd Scott, Eddie Freeman (guitar); George Dorsey, John B. Brown (alto saxophone); Clifford Scott, J.C. Davis, Wilbert "Lee Diamond" Smith, Ray Felder, Cleveland Lowe (tenor saxophone); Louis Madison (piano, background vocals); Ernie Hayes, Alvin "Fats" Gonder (piano); Carl Pruitt, Bernard Odum, Clarence Mack, Edwyn Conley (bass); David "Panama" Francis, Nat Kendrick, Edison Gore, Reginald Hall (drums); Bill Hollings, J.W. Archer, Johnny Terry, Sylvester Keels, Nashpendle Knox (background vocals).

Recorded at Beltone Studios, New York, New York; Master Recorders, Los Angeles, California; King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio between February 4, 1956 and January 30, 1959. Originally released on King (12-635).

Digitally remastered by Gary N. Mayo (PolyGram Studios).

Consisting of older Federal Records sides and new material he recorded for the King label with a refurbished band, James Brown's second LP of 1959, TRY ME!, was a bit of a turning point for the Godfather of Soul as a band-leader. While the 1956-57 recordings feature accompaniment by mostly label-hired musicians (including such future jazz luminaries as Kenny Burrell), four of the tracks on TRY ME! were delivered by a group hand-picked by Brown, thus fostering the rich tradition of JB's back-up bands. Under the musical direction of saxophonist J.C. Davis and following the rattle of Nat Kendrick's hi-hat, this group attacked the beat like nobody's business--even on the slower numbers--setting the precedent for Brown's future funk direction.

Funny enough though, the uniting factor of TRY ME!'s disparate parts is its mainstream-minded material. With His Famous Flames creating lush vocal backdrops, Brown put a personalized spin on typical late-'50s pop songs. His earnest pleading, and the rhythmic pulse of Bobby Roach's guitar and Louis Madison's piano differentiate "I Want You So Bad" and "Got To Cry" from the basic street-corner crooners of the time, adding some good old-fashioned grit to sugary exclamations. More of interest for the swinger-at-heart are "Messing With The Blues," Brown's grinding tribute to the foundation of his artistic innovation and a vow to tinkle with it, and "Can't Be The Same," a rollicking juke-joint duet with Bobby Byrd.


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