0040. James Brown – Live At The Apollo [1963]


Classic funk/soul.  I’ve got nothing bad at all to say about this album or James Brown at all.  I was a fan of James Brown before I heard this album, so I pretty much knew what to expect.  I don’t usually choose live albums to listen to over studio albums, unless for some reason the live version has something the studio version doesn’t.  I would listen to this one outside this project, though.  I imagine this album could make fans out of people who wouldn’t normally listen to music like this.  Give it a try!  What have ya got to lose?

Wikipedia Says:

Live at the Apollo is a live album by James Brown andthe Famous Flames, recorded at the Apollo Theater inHarlem and released in 1963. In 2003, the album was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2] In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to theNational Recording Registry.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[3]
BBC Music favorable[4]
Blender 5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly A+[6]
Mojo 5/5 stars[7]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[8]
PopMatters 10/10[9]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[10]
Virgin Encyclopedia 5/5 stars[11]
Yahoo! Music favorable[12]

Live at the Apollo was recorded on the night of October 24, 1962 at Brown’s own expense. Although not credited on the album cover or label, Brown’s vocal group,The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, andLloyd Stallworth), played an important co-starring role inLive at the Apollo, and are included with Brown by M.C. Fats Gonder in the album’s intro. Brown’s record label,King Records, originally opposed releasing the album, believing that a live album featuring no new songs would not be profitable. The label finally relented under pressure from Brown and his manager Bud Hobgood.[13]

To King’s surprise, Live at the Apollo was an amazingly rapid seller. It spent 66 weeks on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, peaking at #2.[14] Many record stores, especially in the southeast US, found themselves unable to keep up with the demand for the product, eventually ordering several cases at a time. R&B disc jockeys often would play side 1 in its entirety, pausing (usually to insert commercials) only to return to play side 2 in full as well. The side break occurred in the middle of the long track “Lost Someone“.


In a retrospective article for Rolling Stone, music critic Robert Christgausaid that Brown was a “striking but more conventional performer” in the show than on his contemporary studio recordings and wrote of the album:

Recorded in 1962 and barely half an hour long, it lacks the heft we associate with live albums, relegating major songs to the same eight-title medley as forgettable ones. But not only did it establish Brown as an r&b superstar and a sales force to be reckoned with, it’s a time capsule, living testament of a chitlin circuit now defunct. The band is clean as a silk suit, and how the women love this rough singer’s tender lover-in-song act. There is no music anywhere quite like the perfectly timed and articulated female fan-screeches that punctuate the 10-minute ‘Lost Someone.’[15]

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’sRevolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo, Vol. III (Polydor), andLive at the Apollo 1995 (Scotti Bros.).

MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer cited Live at the Apollo as the inspiration toKick Out the Jams[16] “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.”

CD reissues

Despite its renown and historical significance, Live at the Apollo was notreissued on CD until 1990 because the original master recordings had been misplaced and the available copies were not of a high enough quality for a satisfactory CD release. The master tapes were recovered in late 1989. As Harry Weinger writes in the booklet of the reissued Deluxe Edition (featuring remastered sound and several alternate mixes) in 2004: “Finding the primary master, not the readily available copy, became a mission. It was tough to find, since the original LP didn’t index individual tracks, meaning its song titles would not be properly listed in a database. The tape vault was 100.000 reels strong, and growing. As JB would say Good gawd. I shared this tale of woe with Phil Schaap, the noted jazz historian. One day, Philip was searching the vault for a Max Roach tape, his hand landed on what he thought was Max’s master. Pulling the tape off the shelf, he realized he had instead an anonymous-looking audiotape box that said: ‘Second Show James Brown’. It was initialed, in grease pencil, ‘GR-CLS-King Records’ Gene Redd and Chuck L. Speitz. Phil handed it to me, saying with urgent economy, ‘I think you need to hear this.

Track listing

The track listing is as it appears on the 2004 remaster. The original 1962 issue of the album is un-indexed.

No. Title Length
1. “Introduction to James Brown and The Famous Flames” (by Fats Gonder) 1:49
2. I’ll Go Crazy 2:05
3. Try Me 2:27
4. Think 1:58
5. I Don’t Mind 2:28
6. Lost Someone 10:43
7. “Medley: Please, Please, Please/You’ve Got the Power/I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad/I Love You, Yes I Do/Strange Things Happen/Bewildered/Please, Please, Please” 6:27
8. Night Train 3:26
2004 Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
No. Title Length
9. “Think” (Single Mix, Radio Promo Version) 2:01
10. “Medley: I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad” (Single Mix) 2:10
11. “Lost Someone” (Single Mix) 2:43
12. “I’ll Go Crazy” (Single Mix) 2:18

Personnel: James Brown & The Famous Flames

  • Fats Gonder – introduction

Music: The James Brown Band

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