James Brown plays James Brown

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In the wake of James Brown’s death, I’ve got some good stuff to share from his catalog this week. I won’t pretend to know everything about his career, but I will say that I started collecting his music as a result of his pervasive influence on hip-hop; he undoubtedly is one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop. I always thought that if I had the chance to see one artist live, it would be James Brown in his prime. And if I could recommend one album, it would have to be Revolution of the Mind, a mind-blowing live set that probably offers only a hint of what it was like to see him in concert.

As for my collection, I have a bunch of 45s I’ve collected here and there. The two full-length LPs I own are from Smash Records (a subsidiary of Mercury), where, from what information I can gather, Brown produced eight LPs, five of which were instrumental (via) with Brown playing the organ.

James Brown Plays James Brown: Today & Yesterday was his second instrumental album for Smash. It includes, as the title suggests, Brown playing instrumental versions of his own tunes. The recordings are as delightfully funky as they are corny, at least if you’re familiar with the original versions of the songs. The organ, of course, becomes the spotlight, and it’s got a thick sound but still plays nicely off the big band horns. On Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Parts I and II below), the horns are dominating presence, though (especially on Part II), Brown keeps a rhythmic, almost stuttering beat on the organ.

(The mp3s were converted from vinyl; pop and crackle included at no additional charge.)

James Brown | Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part I)
James Brown | Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part II)

4 thoughts on “James Brown plays James Brown”

  1. oh man these are delicious. I didn’t realize Brown put out instrumental tracks on Smash featuring the Soul Bro Number 1 himself off the mic and on the mighty Hammond B3. (per AMG, could be that these were put out during the year he was banned from releasing vocal tracks as a result of a contract dispute w/ King records)

    in any event, tasty. oh so tasty.

    look forward to more gems from your vinyl collection.

  2. Matt,

    I think that is indeed the case, re: James recording stuff for Smash while being banned from King. At least from what I’ve been able to read up here.

    I’ll have to dig into some of his bios to find out for sure.

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  4. James Brown learned the organ because he thought “it added so much to a band” and “no band should be without one”. It’s a great album. I had it back when and played it to death.

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