Wayback Wednesday: James Brown – Live at The Apollo (1963)

James Brown - Live at the ApolloKeeping in the theme of last week’s Wayback Wednesday we continue with another legendary live release in James Brown‘s famed performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater released in 1963.

The recording, featuring James Brown with The Famous Flames, his vocal backup lead by Bobby Byrd made during the group’s performance October 24, 1962. Clocking in at a mere 31 minutes on the original recording, James Brown delivers a performance that captivates an audience more in a single half-hour than most performers are capable of with 3-4 times that length.

The album starts very matter-of-fact with Fats Gonder’s band introduction and comically gracious “thank you, and thank you very kindly,” before introducing the artist and announcing the setlist, in order, before the performance.

Live At The Apollo contained no new tracks at the time of its release, creating an understandable reluctance for the album’s success for both James Brown and the record company, the performance however is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Brown’s role as a band-leader and consummate performer preserved wonderfully here; the emotional interplay between James Brown and the audience is clear.

Not surprisingly, the accolades surrounding this release are extensive; ranking as high as 24th in Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time listing, and added to the Library of CongressNational Recording Registry in 2004, alongside Nevermind, Pet Sounds, and archived footage of Lindbergh’s landing in DC.

As a performer, I’d settle for being half the showman James Brown is on this performance; a truly legendary performance and recording.

I’ll Go Crazy
Try Me
I Don’t Mind
Lost Someone
Medley: (Please, Please, Please/You’ve Got The Power/I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad/I Love You, Yes I Do/Strange Things Happen/Bewildered/Please, Please, Please)
Night Train