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James Brown - At the House of Blues [VHS]
James Brown - At the House of Blues [VHS]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing, 1 Aug. 2004
On this 1999 venture, Brown expands his repertoire with lesser-discussed catalogue numbers like "If I Ruled The World", "Soul Power", and "Papa Don't Take No Mess", in a lively set. JB videos from the 1980s such as Live At Chastain Park, Live In London, and Live In Berlin, must concede to this sometimes off kilter but generally groovy offer. And, most imprtantly, the artist seems to enjoy the experience.
The venue is Vegas and Brown's show, featuring six female singer/dancers, and three chorus girls, fits the booking.
The most compelling tune is his CD single "Funk On Ah Roll", a funky hip-hop given full attention - too bad that many great songs seem to be used as song sequeways - "Hot Pants", "Mother Popcorn" (listed as "Popcorn"), "The Payback", "Prisoner Of Love", "Georgia On My Mind", and "Gimme Some More" done by the aforementioned back-up singers The Bitter Sweets.
The editing is a cut above for most of Brown's (and many other artists') videos. The cameras are still too busy and could have more effectively mixed in the crowd but generally it's okay.
An interesting contribution is by Bitter Sweet member Candice Hurst who whispers "Why Don't You Do Right?" while James wails on harmonica.

Soul On Top
Soul On Top
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: £6.40

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different band, different A & R, same excitement, 17 July 2004
This review is from: Soul On Top (Audio CD)
Although reissue packages apparently aimed at new fans suggest that James Brown has recorded only R & B/Soul/Funk, this (expanded) reissue from '69 shows his interest in standards and traditional jazz.
Ofcourse he he tried this approach back in '64 with the "Showtime" album, but the only thing "non-traditional" was his impassioned intensity on the lead vocals. His work on "Sweet Lorraine" brought it to another level...and left afficionados of both genres uncomfortable.
There's little of that "worlds colliding" awkwardness here: except for a few occasions where Brown takes it a little too high - with screams more attuned to the stage arena.
All of the arrangements on this 1969 session are excellent, including the three JB catalogue items "It's A Man's, Man's Man's World", "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", and "There Was A Time"; "September Song" brings the old and the new together and is a highlight of the album - the mix is perfect and the lead vocal unifies any disparate elements.
Brown's singing is strong throughout, though the aforementioned non-verbal sounds can put the unitiated on edge. For example, on "Every Day I Have The Blues" and "For Once In My Life" it seems the focus gets lost.
The best track is the remake of "The Man In The Glass" (also heard on the "It's A New Day So Let A Man Come In And Do The Popcorn" album). Brown takes *control* and this lesser-known gem soars.
An extended track is "Papa's...Bag", the set closer, which features Maceo Parker. The final two minutes we are provided with are some of the most exciting ever offered by Brown and co.

Best of Vee Jay Years 1
Best of Vee Jay Years 1
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £19.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here they are again!, 28 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Best of Vee Jay Years 1 (Audio CD)
A notable attempt to collect all the worth-hearing Vee Jays on two CDs despite the following disappointments: still no stereo on the recuts; still murky sound on many; no alternates; wrong writer credits...
Having said all that, for the LR collector/historian, and for the writers of books/articles/liner notes on The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Jones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Jones, et. al., this is one valuable assemblage. The man is not always on top of his game vocally, and some of the arrangements are rather messy, but bend an ear anyway.
Vol. One, for the beginner, concludes with a track worth the price of admission: the much-discussed, but sometimes still unappreciated soul classic "I Don't Know What You Got", a pearl of a recording, featuring Jimi Hendrix, Don Covay, and probably Billy Preston. It was made in New York City in May of 1965 and had National Top 20 written all over it (until Vee Jay went out of business and presumeably lost the chance). Strangely, Hendrix biographers dismiss it as an interesting semi-flop without elaborating on the fact that it was Hendrix's first experience with a *great* record.
Two more of the reported four cuts from that session are here: "You'd Better Stop", one Richard's best vocals over a contemporary Motown-type beat; "Dancing All Around The World", sounding more spontaneous, a mind-blowing powerhouse performance.
"Groovy Little Suzie, recorded approximately a year earlier, is more '50s in approach, with a frenetic rhythm and upfront keyboard poundin'. Interestingly, it was written by the co-writer of several of LR's '50s smashes, and has alot of their instant toe-tappin', heart pumpin' appeal. It is reported that Mr. Harry Nilsson actually co-wrote the number, recorded it originally, and demo'd it to The Architect. My-my-my-my.
Richard's Vee Jay years are usually indicated as '63/'64 to '65, but there are two numbers included here which this writer strongly believes are from 1972 - the Hank Williams' "Why Don't You Love Me", no '50s or '60s here my friends, and "Belle Star", an overlong but pulsating instrumental.
"Cherry Red", probably from the "Suzy" session, is, ofcourse the Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson blues, and this slow number is incredible - years ahead of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Chicago with its' jazzy, horn-laden arrangement, and way ahead of any number of singers with it's intense, sensual wailing. This one cries out for its' presumed *stereo* counterpart.
Of the remakes, "Send Me Some Lovin'", more crooned than shouted, and "Keep A Knockin'", a lung-buster all the way, are the best.

Shake It All About
Shake It All About
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: £41.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New recordings from Richard!, 15 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Shake It All About (Audio CD)
With a career mostly represented on record by remakes it was a pleasure to have something new from The Quasar, although the adult listener may be disappointed by the set obviously produced for the very young listener. It's presumed that the success of "Itsey Bitsey Spider" from the well-known compilation was a big part of the reason for this 1992 release.
The best cut for kids *and* adults is the fast "Hokey Pokey", featuring a classic LR keyboard. "Old MacDonald" has momentum, too. The rest, with the exception of an entertaining "Keep A Knockin'" ["You Keep A Knockin'"] featuring more excellent piano, and "He's Got The Whole World In His Hand", are traditional children's songs.

Greatest Hits on Vee-Jay
Greatest Hits on Vee-Jay
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £18.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superfluous collection, 14 Mar. 2004
Rhino once issued a Little Richard album called "Shut Up! A Collection Of Rare Tracks, 1951 to 1964" which included RCA, Peacock, Mercury, and Little Star numbers (the latter of which included studio dialogue!). About the only thing "rare" on this offer are the photos on the jacket and inside. Once again the consumer is provided with perhaps the most recycled rock and roll recordings in history - Little Richard Penniman's 1964 recuts which did alot more harm than good to his career. Although there's some real excitement on these cuts, they bear little resemblance to the Specialtys or Richard's terrific TV performances.
"Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Tutti Frutti" have alot of "pop" however, in fact this reviewer thought they were the originals and found nothing wrong with them, way back when. "Send Me Some Lovin'" (with an unusual slow fade in on this pressing) is a good listen with LR demonstrating his impressive vibrato.
"The Girl Can't Help" was a blockbuster in '56; here it's offered in contemporary medium tempo emphasizing the horns. The sratchin' guitar is also a bit a head of its' time. But, strangely, our stars' voice problems and (apparent) miscue near the end render this number as decidedly shelvable. In its' place, the unreleased for nine years "Jenny, Jenny" remake would have significantly elevated this set.
"Long Tall Sally" and its' original B-side "Slippin' And Slidin'" are here and are the best mixed of all the tunes. But again, Richard sounds tired and disoriented.

Spinout/Double Trouble
Spinout/Double Trouble
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £18.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the Collector-Fan, 11 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Spinout/Double Trouble (Audio CD)
Weak material, bad mixes, yeah, we've all read about that Presley mid-60s artistic dilemma: although the movies and soundtracks were doing less business, they still rolled along (sometimes *rocked*).
The "Spinout" sessions didn't yield a much better sound than what we heard on the previous "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" - Elvis and quartet too far forward, rhythm section too far back, echo too "dry".
The racing car flick does have some committed vocals, however, on the contemporary Rock and Soul title tune, supported by some interesting (what sounds like) Leslie organ playing; on another uptempo song given a nice movie production number, "Adam And Evil"; "Stop, Look, And Listen", also done by Rick Nelson and Bill Haley; and "I'll Be Back", the finale, a good 4/4 walkin' blues, actually in the "Money Honey" vein.
Too bad that "Smorgasbord" and "Beach Shack" are typically flimsy, somewhat embarrassing cuts which degrade the whole affair.
You can't blame the star or the musicians who include D. J. Fontana, Floyd Cramer, and Homer "Boots" Randolph, legendary figures who perform terrifically. To repeat, the lyrics and the mastering are the real problem. And here we have the actual session, not expanded with strong "Bonus Tracks" as on the original vinyl.
"Double Trouble" was the next project, and again we have a few fun (uptempo) items like the title tune, "Baby, If You'll Give Me All Your Love", well-presented on film, plus the jazzy medium-tempo after-hours "City By Night" dragged down by titles the fans can easily name by now. The CD sound ofcourse is a vast improvement over the original 12-inch, but once more the sonics lack resonance. The historian can appreciate the fact that the above-named musicians are heard gain on this set.
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The London Rock And Roll Show [VHS]
The London Rock And Roll Show [VHS]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rock and roll revival '72, 6 Mar. 2004
The Rock and Roll Revival began around 1968: Elvis' TV Special, Little Richard at the Aladdin in Vegas, and most significantly the Richard Nader Madison Square Garden Shows (somewhat later); let's not forget Live Peace In Toronto with John Lennon and his idols.
By the time the Wembley Arena opened its' gates to many of the most popular "Oldie" artists it was getting a little tired. Mr. Penniman's performances of 1969 to 1970 in the New York area were legendary. By August of 1972 it seemed to be an effort for the King of Rock and Roll whose Reprise contract yielded mostly minor hits. And it didn't help when the mikes went out at the show. He manages to deliver a funky "Good Golly" adorned with classic keyboard but compared to earlier efforts it was lacking. His best moment: a dressing room interview short performance of "I Believe". The viewer then is reassured that the man still has the voice of voices for R % R. By the way, if Prince doesn't own at least the Betamax version of this concert, I'll eat my hat. Dig his on-stage personae in the '80s and reflect on LR at Wembley! Oh my Soul!!
His buddies do not do better, however. Chuck Berry's segment features occasional out-of-tune, out-of-sync sounds; Jerry Lee Lewis has an incredible "You Can Have Her", but "Sweet Little Sixteen" saw better days. Bill Haley and Bo Diddley kick up some dust but nothing to enthuse over.
An interesting section includes an edited "debate" between Richard and Jerry Lee over who is really the King of the Mountain, followed by Mr. Haley philosophizing on the historical brotherhood of the '50s originators. Unfortunately this DVD shows none of them anywhere near their top of their game, artistically.

It Happened at the World's Fair
It Happened at the World's Fair
Price: £31.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just listen to *Elvis*, 6 Mar. 2004
A panoramic Hollywood color musical yielded a rather flat movie soundtrack, originally with ten tunes, about half of which were uninspired situational songs. It's been written that many fans were discontented with the album. Well, Follow That Dream hasn't added more titles, but they've given us some nice alternate takes.
If you already own the "Double Features" version, and you're not a deep collector, there's not a strong impetus to pay the higher price - although the booklet is excellent.
The sonics are superb and this is significant in that Elvis Presley's singing is remarkable on all cuts: even on a slight number like the uptempo closer "Happy Ending" his vocal acrobatics become the stuff of Music Appreciation classes across the world. He turns another plotline-number "A World Of Our Own" into something exceptional. The two children's songs, though not for the rockabillies, are beautiful. The two Don Robertson ballads are exquisite. It's not rock and roll, it's not the blues, but you can't say Presley wasn't involved in this music.
Ofcourse we all know about the bouyant hit single "One Broken Heart For Sale." It's gotten a bad rap over the years as the first A-side not to crack the Top Ten, but it's really in the "Return To Sender" class.

Spinout [VHS] [1966]
Spinout [VHS] [1966]
Offered by Film Frenzy Fast Delivery
Price: £3.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A slow, monotonous track, 5 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Spinout [VHS] [1966] (VHS Tape)
"Viva Las Vegas" was hugely popular in '64, "Roustabout" did well in '65, both were respectable efforts. By '66 and "Spinout" the free-wheelin' stud who settles down in the end scenario was gettin' a little tired.
Although this formula flick has a terrific opening sequence with two rousing production numbers ("Stop, Look, And Listen" - by the way also done by Bill Haley and Rick Nelson on disc; and "Adam And Evil" - Presley tears up the stage) and a gem of a closing number ("I'll Be Back" - arranged by musical mentor Charlie Hodge!), a groovy Cobra and magnificent Deusenberg, and a very hip "girl drummer" Deborah Walley, by the second hour even the deepest fans lose focus. Just too many badly mixed bland songs and predictable situations, devoid of humour. Most of Elvis' earlier color musicals at least showed our star energetically doin' his thing, even singin' a few decent songs. This deal was doomed artistically from the start. You just know he wasn't proud of the proceedings.
Elvis and his band set up camp along the roadside when out of nowhere a dog scurries onto the scene. E.P. identifies the pooch as know what from his biggest B-side. The contrast with 1956 is too much to bear.

Laurel and Hardy from the 40s
Laurel and Hardy from the 40s
by Scott MacGillivray
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three decades of missing info.!, 3 Mar. 2004
1927 to 1940 is a shorter time than 1941 to 1957 but the latter time frame has gotten next to no attention by most L & H writers.
Ofcourse there were no more film classics after The Boys left Hal Roach Studios and went "to Hollywood" in the purest artistic sense. But there were great moments on film and greater moments on stage which apparently went unfilmed - the European tours of '47 to '53.
Scott M. has written a wonderfully readable book which casual fans can enjoy. His insights into the movie industry are quite thought-provoking as well.
Scott got me to reflect on the '41 to '45 series of film quickies which largely ignored the two greatest characterizations in comedy history: it was wartime and the "surreal" quality of the early pictures would not be as accepted (although the writer points out that the Roach efforts were still in circulation in the '40s!). Further, one should realize that most feature length comedy have flaws - how many are too long, do not capitalize on comic situations, get hung up on plot, etc. The Fox and MGM flicks, though none are up to L & H standards, are professionally shot and give us a chance to see the older and wiser (?) Stan and Ollie trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
The research here is amazing: unused dialogue/scenes (sometimes tragically omitted!); period movie's just great.
Considering the low standards of many of today's (extremely wealthy) most popular comic actors, it is disturbing to realize that the true Kings of Comedy were apparently never invited to guest on a sitcom or TV variety show in the late '40s/early '50s. Gleason and Carney paid homage every week but their idols' sole US appearance but an out-of-character unplanned (by Stan and Ollie) visit to "You Bet Your Life"!
I've re-read parts of this work dozens of times and always find something new to enjoy.

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