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James Brown:The Ultimate Collection

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating


The cover of the collection

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a three-CD compilation of JB's greatest hits, this is a solid if slightly flawed collection.


  • The remastering job is excellent.
  • Most of his biggest hits are included.
  • His most famous two-part hits are included in their entirety.


  • These hits have been repackaged countless times.
  • The sequencing is oddly out of sync.
  • A few key classics are missing.


  • James Brown
  • Greatest Hits
  • Compilation
  • 3-CD set
  • Soul
  • Funk
  • R&B

Guide Review - James Brown:The Ultimate Collection

The Godfather of Soul's impact on popular music has been at least as profound as Elvis Presley's, and just as messy - there are dozens of compilations floating around there which attempt to boil down James Brown's long and diffuse recording career into a series of highlights. Which comp you buy has a lot to do with how much money you're willing to spend - for neophytes, 1991's single-disc "20 All-Time Greatest Hits!" is the best place to start, while the first major collection, last year's two-disc "50th Anniversary Collection" charts the major changes of his career very accurately. Then there's the box set "Star Time!," a 4-CD blowout that features some signifcant yet lesser-known hits and some telling unreleased gems.

But what if you need a 3-CD set that benefits from the latest in remastering technology? Well, "Ultimate Collection" (first released as an import) works if you don't expect too much. The sound is excellent, but not revelatory, since the market is constantly flooded with JB retrospectives; the third disc is about 20 minutes short by CD standards and features two unnecessary remixes, and the sequencing is bizarre in spots ("Get Up Offa That Thing" right next to "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"?!), but most of the major hits are here, and many in their full two-part versions. There is no "ultimate" collection of James Brown hits yet, but as these things go, this comp succeeds better than most. Just be prepared to replace it eventually.

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