I ran a portion of this concert (the last half only) a few years ago. But I realized, the only way you could really appreciate this concert, and in fact the true magnitude of the talent of James Brown, was to listen to the entire concert; at almost three hours. This is his legendary appearance at The Hollywood Bowl on September 16, 1966.
The boast that James Brown was The Hardest Working Man In Show Business is no mere hype. Together with his revue, which included The Jewels, Baby Lloyd, The Famous Flames, and a full compliment of strings, Brown is almost non-stop on stage. Whether it was giving a taste of what was to come in the second half, or lending his keyboard skills during the instrumental section, Brown is all over the place. It is, without question, a glimpse of what many of these revues were like from the legendary Chitlin Circuit of the 40s and 50s, where an audience got their money’s worth and then some. This tape surfaced after being lost for the better part of 20 years. It hasn’t been issued in any form and it’s a historic document for music in the 1960s.
Technical note: Even though this is what is known as a Soundboard recording, the sound system at the Hollywood Bowl during this time was more geared towards Classical, Jazz and Folk. High powered Rock, or in this case, Turbo-charged Soul. Because there weren’t multiple mikes or much mixing, the sound gets a little distorted in places – and parts of the band go missing some of the time, as does the string section. But the historic importance of a concert like this, by one of the icons of Rock and R&B goes without saying. The energy, from 54 years ago, is enough to drive you crazy – just as it did to the audience who were there.
Enjoy and crank it up.