Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's All Lies - James Brown At The Garden

Take a look at the orignal cover of this 1967 King Records Live LP by James Brown..

Now Check this 2009 Reissue of the same LP.....

The new cover is the truthful one..Sure, James Brown made his debut at Madison Square Garden in 1966, but the LP issued as Live at the Garden was not recorded at midtown Manhattan's legendary arena, but instead, at the more modest (but very swanky), Latin Casino, in Cherry Hill,New Jersey. Sadly, the original LP (which is included in Hip-O Select's 2 cd and very deluxe package), doesn't even hint at how good the James Brown Experience was; shifting the order of tunes, eliminating the opening band set (which JB played organ for), editing out most of the stage patter, and adding fake crowd noise/arena ambiance. Maybe that's why it became such a minor part of the JB canon. Although  the original LP running order from the January 67 Latin Casino run is presented on disc 1, you'll want to move right on to disc 2.

The new expanded edition of Live At The Garden, dispenses with the lies and half-truths (that were pretty common in the day), and on the second CD, gives you a typical (though a little truncated) James Brown supper club set. The nod to crossover, not included in the original LP, Come Rain Or Come Shine, is more of a wink, 'cause for the most part, JB and the band (led by Pee wee Ellis) rip it up. (Not that there's anything wrong with supper club crossover bids-see Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square Club). On top of the tinkling glasses, there's also a ton of audience interaction and clowning that you never saw in arena or larger venues, and that's what makes this new offering unique in the JB oeuvre.

At the time of the record's original release JB was embroiled in his ongoing feud with King Records head Syd Nathan. Though they respected each other and made each other a lot of money, they agreed on almost nothing. Nathan hated live records and that's why this one was so tinkered with..plus thought Nathan, the LP would be stepping on 45 and album sales for the newest hit, Bring It Up, and JB's latest full length, Raw Soul (March '67), which was released a mere 2 months before Live At The Garden hit shelves. James won the argument, but this time Syd Nathan was right. For aesthetic and marketing reasons the record didn't do too much.

This wasn't of much consequence to JB..he felt that if he recorded it, it was a waste not to put it out. I guess JB and Prince went to the same school of marketing. Chuckles aside though, the gussied up version of Live At the Garden is a nice addition to any JB collection, capturing the band on the cusp of their funk breakthrough. As an added track, a rehearsal piece recorded on an empty stage in Cherry Hill, Let Yourself Go, hinted at the full blown funk of Cold Sweat that would be released in June.

Go Get Live At The Garden pt.1
and Pt.2 

JB circa '67
 

14 comments:

madelineb03 said...

This is a fine thang right here...I read in Keith Richards " Life" bio that in the late 60's Ronnie Spector took him to the Apollo to see James Brown. It impressed him how James ran his band on a tight and short leash...holding up his fingers to indicate the amount of a "fine" he would impose if they screwed up onstage...Keith says one night he saw James fine Maceo Parker about about $50!

Cody B said...

Like the song sez.."Papa don't take no mess." Thanks Maddy.

OMacacoAuq said...

I'm glad to see that you've shaken off the doldrums - or maybe just broken turntable.fm's spell sufficiently - to get back to postin', breau. This one's a beauty. I'm so impressed I had to cross-file to the record's rdio page to get you the broader audience this review deserves.

http://www.rdio.com/#/artist/James_Brown/album/Live_At_The_Garden_Expanded_Edition/

Cody B said...

So appreciate that Apeman! Definitely been in the doldrums lately...That and summer makes me want to shake off the 'puter...And now here come Spotify...yikes.

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