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James Brown -- Number 1s CD review

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James Brown -- Number 1's

James Brown -- Number 1's

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The Bottom Line

As an introduction to James Brown and his vast influence on soul and funk music, this single-disc compilation is nearly perfect, focusing on The Godfather of Soul's instantly recognizable smashes and also his big Seventies R&B hits. For beginning James fans only -- but with his death, such an introduction becomes necessary.
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  • All of James Brown's most recognizable and influential hits are indeed here.
  • The sequencing allows Brown's soul and funk sides to shine separately.
  • The remastering is state of the art.


  • Fans of Brown's early R&B work won't find it here -- this is strictly for neophytes.
  • No extended "part 2" workouts here, but that's to be expected.


  • Release date: March 27, 2007
  • Polydor 000854902
  • Compilation
  • Studio
  • Greatest Hits
  • 1965-1974
  • Single disc

Guide Review - James Brown -- Number 1s CD review

James Brown's back catalog is one of the biggest, craziest, and most complicated in the history of the music business -- as befits someone whose run of charted singles matched that of Elvis or Fats Domino, there's a lot to sift through. Yet you could hardly do better than to steer young or otherwise interested fans to this single-disc overview of Soul Brother Number One and his output, which was absolutely essential to the maturation of R&B and the creation of both soul and funk.

That said, it's his funk output that's mostly spotlighted here: anyone looking for "Please Please Please" or something off of Live At The Apollo will have to shell out a few extra bucks for some of the larger compilations. "Try Me" and "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" fit in nicely at the beginning of this CD with his early experiments in inverting the rock and roll beat, but from then on it's all about the one and the three -- a cornucopia of funk's greatest grooves, from "Sex Machine" to "My Thang" to "Hot Pants," all in their original one-part 45 single versions so you can get used to the beat without getting bogged down in it.

If all this means next to nothing to you, worry not: you actually know more of these grooves than you realize, as James has been endlessly featured on movie soundtracks and sampled by hip-hop's greatest hitmakers. Once you digest this, you can pick up Apollo, the Foundations of Funk series, or even Star Time to get the other pieces of the puzzle. One disc can't hope to sum him up, but hey: they didn't call him The Hardest Working Man in Show Business for nothing.

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