“When I’m on stage, I’m trying to do one thing: bring people joy. Just like church does. People don’t go to church to find trouble, they go there to lose it.”
– James Brown
“Our whole thing was based on James Brown. We listened to Live at the Apollo endlessly on acid. We would listen to that in the van in the early days of 8-tracks on the way to the gigs to get us up for the gig. If you played in a band in Detroit in the days before The MC5, everybody did ‘Please, Please, Please’ and ‘I Go Crazy.’ These were standards. We modeled The MC5’s performance on those records. Everything we did was on a gut level about sweat and energy. It was anti-refinement. That’s what we were consciously going for.”
– Wayne Cramer, MC5
|Recorded||October 24, 1962|
|Length||31:31 (Original LP), 40:47 (CD reissue)|
|Label||King, Solid Smoke, Polydor|
|Producer||James Brown (original), Harry Weinger (Polydor reissues)|
One of the best live albums in music history, James Brown – Live at the Apollo was recorded on this day 50 years ago.
My favourite moment: The whole horn infused “Think” that borrows heavily from jazz legend Charlie Parker in the way Brown scats over the band with the crowd participating enthusiastically. Not remotely like the studioversions and terribly good!
Before the release of the seminal and hugely influential ‘Live At The Apollo’ in 1962, James Brown was something of an unknown quantity outside of the R&B charts of the US south. Staying on the pop charts for 14 months, and peaking at #2, it’s a demonstration of Brown’s self-belief that he (himself!) had financed and released the recording when his label saw no sense in releasing a live album that featured no new material. Brown went on to record several more albums at the Apollo over the course of his career, including 1968’s Live at the Apollo, Vol. II (King), 1971’s Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo, Vol. III(Polydor) and Live at the Apollo 1995 (Scotti Bros.).
“An astonishing record of James and the Flames tearing the roof off the sucker at the mecca of R&B theatres, New York’s Apollo. When King Records owner Syd Nathan refused to fund the recording, thinking it commercial folly, Brown single-mindedly proceeded anyway, paying for it out of his own pocket. He had been out on the road night after night for a while, and he knew that the magic that was part and parcel of a James Brown show was something no record had ever caught.
I don’t mind (audio but with great pictures):
Hit follows hit without a pause — “I’ll Go Crazy,” “Try Me,” “Think,” “Please Please Please,” “I Don’t Mind,” “Night Train,” and more. The affirmative screams and cries of the audience are something you’ve never experienced unless you’ve seen the Brown Revue in a Black theater. If you have, I need not say more; if you haven’t, suffice to say that this should be one of the very first records you ever own.”
Big and deserved praise indeed!
Rolling Stone magazine rated it as 25th best album ever:
“Perhaps the greatest live album ever recorded. From the breathless buildup of the spoken intro through terse, sweat-soaked early hits such as “Try Me” and “Think” into 11 minutes of the raw ballad “Lost Someone,” climaxing with a frenzied nine-song medley and ending with “Night Train,” Live at the Apollo is pure, uncut soul…”
Track 10, the 9 song medley (audio):