James Brown with the Louie Bellson Orchestra – Soul On Top (1970)

FrontCover1James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century music and dance, he is often referred to by the honorific nicknames “Godfather of Soul”,”Mr. Dynamite”, and “Soul Brother No. 1”. In a career that lasted over 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres.

Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia.[3] He joined a rhythm and blues vocal group, the Gospel Starlighters (which later evolved into the Famous Flames) founded by Bobby Byrd, in which he was the lead singer.[4][5] First coming to national public attention in the late 1950s as a member of the singing group The Famous Flames with the hit ballads “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me”, Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer with the Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. His success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”.

During the late 1960s, Brown moved from a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly “Africanized” approach to music-making, emphasizing stripped-down and interlocking rhythms, that influenced the development of funk James Brown01music. By the early 1970s, Brown had fully established the funk sound after the formation of the J.B.s with records such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “The Payback”. He also became noted for songs of social commentary, including the 1968 hit “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Brown continued to perform and record until his death from pneumonia in 2006.

Brown recorded 17 singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts.He also holds the record for the most singles listed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart which did not reach No. 1. Brown was inducted into 1st class of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013 as an artist and then in 2017 as a songwriter. He also received honors from many other institutions, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Joel Whitburn’s analysis of the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, Brown is ranked No. 1 in The Top 500 Artists. He is ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone has also cited Brown as the most sampled artist of all time.

Soul on Top is the 28th studio album by American musician James Brown. The album was released in April 1970, by King. Brown and saxophonist Maceo Parker worked with arranger/conductor Oliver Nelson to record a big band, funk and jazz vocal album. It was recorded with Louie Bellson and his 18-piece jazz orchestra at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, California in November 1969, and features jazz standards, show tunes, and middle of the road hits, as well as a new arrangement of Brown’s funk hit “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”.

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The album was reissued in 2004 with one previously unreleased bonus track, a big band version of Brown’s 1967 hit “There Was a Time”, and new liner notes by jazz critic Will Friedwald.

Reviewing the Verve reissue for The Village Voice in September 2004, Tom Hull said, “This extends Ray Charles’s omnivorous big-band soul, with Brown reinventing standards—’That’s My Desire,’ ‘September Song,’ ‘Every Day I Have the Blues,’ ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’—in front of Louie Bellson’s orchestra, which arranger-conductor Oliver Nelson barely manages to discipline, so caught up is the band in the singer’s excitement. In Brown’s discography, just a curio. But in the whole history of big band jazz, there’s never been a singer like him.” (wikipedia)

Linernotes

If Count Basie had hired James Brown to replace Joe Williams as his featured male vocalist, what would the results have sounded like? Brown offers some suggestions on Soul on Top, which finds the Godfather of Soul making an intriguing detour into jazz-minded big-band territory. Recorded in 1969, Soul on Top unites Brown with the Basie-influenced orchestra of jazz drummer Louie Bellson, and stylistically, the results are somewhere between soul-funk and the funkier side of big-band jazz. This Brown/Bellson collaboration isn’t straight-ahead jazz, nor is it typical of Brown’s late-’60s output. But if recording a big-band project with Bellson was a surprising and unexpected thing for the Godfather of Soul to do in 1969, it was hardly illogical or bizarre — Brown, after all, grew up listening to jazz (as well as blues and gospel) and was well aware of the legacies of Basie, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and others.

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While some jazz snobs would have listeners believe that jazz and R&B have little, if anything, in common, the fact is that they’re close relatives that get much of their energy and feeling from the blues. So it makes perfect sense for Brown to combine soul, funk, and jazz on this album, which finds him revisiting some major hits (including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”) in addition to embracing “September Song,” “That’s My Desire,” and other standards typically associated with jazz and traditional pop. Although not among the Godfather’s better-known efforts, this fine album is happily recommended to anyone who holds R&B and jazz in equally high regard. (by Alex Henderson)

BackCover

Personnel:
Al Aarons (trumpet)
Jack Arnold (percussion)
John Audino (trumpet)
Louis Bellson (drums)
James Brown (vocals)
Ray Brown (bass)
Pete Christlieb (saxophone)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Buddy Collette (saxophone)
Chuck Findley (trumpet)
Nick DiMaio (trombone)
Jim Mulidore (saxophone)
Maceo Parker (saxophone)
Bill Pitman (guitar)
Tom Porello (trumpet)
Joe Romano (saxophone)
Louis Shelton (guitar)
Kenny Shroyer (trombone)
Bill Tole (trombone)
Frank Vincent (piano)
Ernie Watts (saxophone)

Arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. That’s My Desire (Kressa/Loveday) 4.10
02. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Williams) 3.00
03. What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Bricusse/Newley) 3.06
04. It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World (Unedited Version) (Brown/Newsome) 6.41
05. The Man In The Glass (Hobgood) 5.56
06. It’s Magic (Cahn/Styne) 3.14
07. September Song (Unedited Version) (Anderson/Weill) 5.03
08. For Once In My Life (Unedited Version) (Miller/Murden) 4.44
09. Every Day I Have The Blues” (Unedited Version) (Chatman) 4.29
10. I Need Your Key (To Turn Me On) (Bellson) 3.47
11. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Brown) 4.42
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12. There Was A Time (Brown/Hobgood) 3.05

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This is a man’s world
This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing
Nothing without a woman or a girl

You see man made the cars
To take us over the road
Man made the train
To carry the heavy load
Man made the electric light
To take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water
Like Noah made the ark

Man think about a little bit of baby girls
And a baby boys
Man makes them happy
‘Cause man makes them toys
And after man make everything everything he can
Even though the man makes money
To buy from other man

Oh how, how man needs a woman
I sympathize with the man that don’t have a woman
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness
He’s lost in loneliness

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