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James Brown (James Joseph Brown, Jr.): Motherlode Compilation [Limited Edition]

Album Reviews:

Q (8/01, p.146) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Fantastic..."

Album Notes

Personnel: James Brown (vocals, organ); Bobby Byrd (vocals, keyboards);

Jimmy "Chank" Nolen, Healon "Cheese" Martin, Alphonso "Country" Kellum, Phelps "Catfish" Collins, Jimmy Nolan, Robert Coleman (guitar); Jimmy Parker, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, Joe Poff (alto saxophone); Robert McCollough, Maceo Parker, L.D. "Eldee" Williams (tenor saxophone); St. Clair Pinckney, Louis Tilford (baritone saxophone); Darryl "Hasaan" Jamison, Jerone "Jasaan" Sanford, Ike Oakley, Richard "Kush" Griffith, Joseph Davis, Waymond Reed, Joe Dupars (trumpet); Louis Tilford, Fred Wesley, Levi Rasbury, Hollie Farris (trombone); Mike Lawler (Clavinet); Fred Thomas, William "Bootsy" Collins (bass); John "Jabo" Starks, Melvin Parker (drums); Johnny Griggs (percussion).

Producer: James Brown.

Compilation producers: Tim Rogers, Cliff White.

Recorded between 1967 & 1976. Originally released on Polydor (6093). Includes liner notes by Cliff White.

During the mid- and late '80s, after Brown and Polydor parted ways, the label began to reissue his work, some of which had been out of print for close to a decade. Motherlode is one of the finest compilations. Coming a few years after In the Jungle Groove, a compilation effort that culled some of Brown's harder-edged 1969-1971 tracks, this covers 1969-1973 and has the smoothness of a regular release effort.

By this point, Motherlode producers Cliff White and Tim Rogers began to know more about Brown's "classic" work than he did and could do compilations where the tracks were all potent. This set starts off with an explosive live take of "There It Is" recorded at the Apollo in 1972. 1969's "She's the One" with his late-'60s orchestra has great guitar work from both Jimmy "Chank" Nolan and Alphonso "Country" Kellum. Since most of the tracks here weren't hits, or were even released, it provides a fresh interpretation of Brown's production style and the skills of his players. "Untitled Instrumental" features Brown's rock and psychedelic-influenced unit, with included guitarist Phelps Collins and his brother, Bootsy Collins, and his singular bass skills. The heart of this CD, however, is "People Drive Your Funky Soul." Originally on Slaughter's Big Rip Off in a too brief 3:50 version, Motherlode brings the entire take to the public for the first time. The track, which manages to subtly cross reggae with bebop, again features Brown with his 1971-1975 band and it exhibits their chemistry and the band's unbelievable versatility. Although Motherlode has been lost in the shuffle due to a plethora of other compilations, this is still illuminating and enjoyable. ~ Jason Elias


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