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  • Try Me,

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    James Brown

    Please Please Please 7 ( 1959 )
    Please, Please, Please / Chonnie-On-Chon / Hold My Baby's Hand / I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On / Just Won't Do Right / Baby Cries Over the Ocean / I Don't Know / Tell Me What I Did Wrong / Try Me / That Dood It / Begging, Begging / I Walked Alone / No, No, No, No / That's When I Lost My Heart / Let's Make It / Love or a Game

    A dirt poor delinquent to the hardest working man in showbiz - the godfather. Don't call him Jimmy, or James. Call him Mr Brown. His dad was a singer, Mr Brown got money working in a furniture store and had his own influences, all back singers and guitar players, like Louis Jordan - known as the 'King Of The Jukebox'. Well, it was the 1930s, clearly this is all first hand knowledge, i'm 106 years old. You know, music critics encouraged to put such pointless detail into their reviews - they tell you so at album reviewing school. Don't call 'Sign Of The Times' by Prince a bad album, 'Animals' by Pink Floyd is a landmark album - you must get these facts into your head! At no point should your own opinion creep into your record reviews. For a moment, Mr Brown toured as 'Little Richard', he filled in. Hilarious, really - I got that piece of info from Mr Brown himself. Gospel, singing at churches, a plate being passed around for payment, all back in the day. I was ten years old, a black child from the South.... clearly not. I was born in Devon, England - into 1974. The South-West of England is a country within a country, but that's another story and shall be told another time. Oh, you've got to do the voice - if you don't know James Brown - he sounds like a black Columbo - the immortal Peter Falk.

    James Brown and His Famous Flames scored an R&B Top Ten hit in 1956 with 'Please, Please, Please,' but the next nine singles flopped. 'Try Me' then became a hit and the record label assembled this album out of the sides they had in the vaults. Yes, the entire album consists of two hit singles and a number of failed single A and B sides. Those expecting the master of funk will not get that, however, this is only 1959 after all, So Mr Brown tries on a number of Rock n Roll and Gospel/Blues hats, to varying degrees of success. I raise a question, who 'invented' the Rock n Roll Piano, that 'dang dang dang dang' hitting of about five different keys, all that the same time? Somebody must have done? We used to have a Piano in the house, never knew what to do with the thing. My younger sister took lessons, my Grandmother played Organ in the local church for about fifty years (true) so Rock n Roll Piano was only something my own, untrained fingers tried to carry out. Yeah, I'd seen Jerry Lee Lewis standing on a Piano - although that sort of thing was generally frowned upon. If this was the only James Brown album, you would still consider him a fantastic singer. His blues are spot on, as of course is his Gospel. The band surrounding him could hardly be tighter, something we will no doubt discuss later - he didn't exactly encourage slackers.

    So, his yearning and powerful vocal during 'Please Please Please' is almost exactly repeated throughout the other hit, 'Tell Me'. In-between, the highlight 'I Fell That Old Feeling Coming On' is very Rock n Roll, prominent bass and 'yeahhhhh pretty baby' vocals abound - most entertaining! Sadly, some of the other material across the album is faintly average - but his voice always convinces.

    top of page Try Me 7 ( 1959 )
    There Must Be a Reason / (You Made Me Love You) I Want You So Bad / Why Do You Do Me / Got to Cry / Strange Things Happen (Why Does Everything Happen to Me) / Fine Old Foxy Self / Messing With the Blues / Try Me / It Was You / I've Got to Change / Can't Be the Same / It Hurts to Tell You / I Won't Plead No More / You're Mine You're Mine / Gonna Try / Don't Let It Happen to Me

    'Try Me' is a collection of outtakes, b-sides and stray singles from a time where albums were not a prime concern in comparison with singles. The title track was a number 1 R&B hit and reached the top 50 of the pop charts. 'I Want You So Bad' also hit the top twenty of the R&B charts. The b-side to his first single 'Please Please Please' is here as well as b-sides to 'Chonnie-On-Chon' and both a and b sides for 'Can't Be The Same', 'Try Me' 'I Want You So Bad' 'I've Got To Change' - the b-side for 'Good Good Lovin' and then the entire 'Got To Cry' sides. So, songs spanning 56 to 59 essentially and other albums would mine a similar formula. The sound is soul, gospel, rhythm and blues and a few hints of doo-wop. His voice is the main instrument admist professional and energetic backing - guitars, brass instruments, bass, stand-up bass, etc and so-forth. James growing up could play harmonica, guitar and Piano - all to a certain level, and heard gospel singing at his local baptist church. He would also play Jazz songs on his organ before learning boogie woogie.

    'There Must Be A Reason' could sit on an album of similar vintage by Elvis Presley, 'I Want You So Bad' is more what we come to expect - those passionate vocals sitting on top of a mid-paced soul scorcher. 'Why Do You Do Me' has fine brass parts and some drama, 'Messing With The Blues' is gospel/blues and mighty fine desolation and singing whilst 'I Won't Plead No More' has typical doo-wop/soul backing vocals, a mid-tempo musical backing which is exceptionally unexeptional - yet James wails impressively over the top of such material.

    top of page this page last updated 01/08/15

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