Back in 1963, James Brown was growing increasingly dissatisfied with his relationship with King Records and label boss Syd Nathan, who was reluctant to get behind the Live At The Apollo concept. So Brown decided to release Out Of Sight on Mercury's Smash subsidiary and scored his biggest international hit to date. Nathan struck back with a court injunction preventing Brown from recording as a vocalist for any label other than King, but that didn't stop Brown from releasing instrumental tracks for Mercury/Smash. The resourceful bandleader also stepped up his production of singles featuring singers from his touring revue (Dizzy Jones, James Crawford, Vicki Anderson, Yvonne Fair, etc.).
The best of those experiments are compiled on The Godfather's R&B: James Brown's Productions 1962-67 (BGP/Ace). It's a fascinating selection of often overlooked material from a time when Brown was moving away from conventional R&B structures into more groove-oriented jams, and in songs like Bobby Byrd's I'm Lonely and Anna King's That's When I Cry, you can actually hear the incremental development toward the shape of funk to come.
Also just released is the excellent three-DVD package I Got The Feelin': James Brown In The 60s (Shout! Factory). It thoughtfully couples the documentary The Night James Brown Saved Boston, about his Boston Garden show on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, with a DVD of the entire broadcasted performance. There's also another disc of full-colour footage from a scorching date at Harlem's famed Apollo Theatre in March 1968, the untoppable version of Out Of Sight from the T.A.M.I. Show and additional clips from contemporaneous gigs at L'Olympia in Paris. Amazing stuff.
I'm Lonely (Bobby Byrd)
That's When I Cry (Anna King)
I Found You (Yvonne Fair)
Soul music collector, DJ, promoter and all-around enthusiast John Ciba and his Rabbit Factory crew are back with another stellar volume in their series The Birmingham Sound: The Soul Of Neal Hemphill. This deeply dug second helping of hip-shaking ‘Bama badness is every bit as enlightening and entertaining as the first.
Rising to the high bar set by the Numero Group's thoroughly researched and elegantly turned out label-oriented archival comps, The Birmingham Sound, Vol. 2 uncovers more of the funky riches from the late 60s and early 70s buried in Hemphill's seemingly bottomless Sound of Birmingham studio/label archive of unknown thrillers from the likes of Frederick Knight, Bobby Dobyne, Ralph "Soul" Jackson, Cortez Greer, Fletcher Flowers, Wes Lewis, Sam Frazier and others. A fantastic reclamation job carried out with love and respect that all serious fans of southern soul need to investigate.
I've Been Lonely for So Long (Frederick Knight)
Testify (Cortez Greer)