James Brown: Star Time [Box Set]


ON THIS DATE (21 YEARS AGO)
May 7, 1991 – James Brown: Star Time [Box Set] is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 5/5
Star Time is a 71-track, 4-CD box set by James Brown, released on this date in May, 1991. Its contents span most of the length of his career up to the time of its release, starting in 1956 with his first hit record, “Please, Please, Please”, and ending with “Unity, Pt. 1”, his 1984 collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa. It includes a few previously unreleased tracks.
The box set’s title comes from the question Brown’s announcer would ask audiences at the start of Brown’s concerts: “Are you ready for star time?”
Star Time’s liner notes, written by Cliff White, Harry Weinger, Nelson George, Alan Leeds and Brown himself, won a 1991 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes. The notes also include album and singles discographies and a one-page comic by Mary Fleener, a visual interpretation of the song “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
In 2003, the album was ranked number 79 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
There are few box sets that can match the greatness of James Brown’s STARTIME. Backed by such brilliant musicians as Melvin and Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins andRolling Stone (5/13/99, p.52) – Included in Rolling Stone’s “Essential Recordings of the 90’s.”
Rolling Stone (5/30/91) – 5 Stars – Classic – “…a staggering collection….goes well beyond the usual hits ‘n’ rarities approach of boxed retrospectives to get at the essence of Brown’s development from gospel-style shouter…to Soul Brother No. 1…and from God-father of Soul…to grandfather of rap…”
Entertainment Weekly (6/12) – “…soul history as a headlong rush of killer hooks, brain-melting horn blasts, and a scream that fuses passion and violence in one initiable call of the wild…” – Rating: A
Q (6/91) – 5 Stars – Indespensable – “…Brown is one of the half- dozen most important, most influential individual oeuvres of the entire rock-and-roll era: the equal of Dylan, The Beatles and Motown….This isn’t just the history of one artist; it is literally the history of the groove, the beat that can’t be beat…”
Uncut (p.119) – 5 stars out of 5 – “No home’s complete without it.”
Mojo (Publisher) (p.115) – 5 stars out of 5 – “[T]he music is undimmed from blues, jazz and R&B to soul and funk.”
REVIEW
by Steve Huey, allmusic
When the four-disc Star Time box was released in 1991, James Brown’s catalog sorely needed an overhaul; much of it was out of print, and what was available was hardly befitting of his magnitude. Star Time got everything right: it put Brown’s hugely influential career into striking perspective, helping to complete his critical renaissance, and the richness of its music set a standard for box sets in general. It was no easy task to balance Brown’s lengthy, multi-part funk workouts with the need to include all of his most significant tracks, and the compilers did an excellent job in deciding when and when not to truncate (“Cold Sweat,” for example, must be heard in its entirety). There’s nothing from Live at the Apollo (which should be experienced start to finish), and his last hurrah on the pop charts, “Living in America,” is missing, but these 71 tracks cover all the other high points, and make an eloquent case for Brown as the greatest R&B artist of all time. Disc One covers Brown’s early R&B years, when his pleading intensity helped lay the groundwork for soul music. Disc Two, however, is where his genius truly crystallizes — it basically chronicles the birth of funk, as Brown gradually discards song structure in favor of working hard grooves; it also offers a picture of Brown’s emergence as a bandleader and spokesman for black pride. Disc Three features Brown’s hardest funk, including his much-revered material with the Bootsy Collins band. Disc Four traces Brown’s later creative decline, yet he duplicated his former glories often enough to make this disc a surprisingly solid listen; plus, his massive impact on hip-hop is underlined on the last track, the Afrika Bambaataa duet “Unity.” Star Time paved the way for several other excellent compilations which highlighted different parts of Brown’s vast legacy, but as the definitive retrospective of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century (black or otherwise), it has yet to be equaled.
TRACKS:
Disc 1 (“Mr. Dynamite”)
“Please Please Please” (James Brown, Johnny Terry) – 2:43
“Why Do You Do Me” (Bobby Byrd, Sylvester Keels) – 2:59
“Try Me” (Brown) – 2:30
“Tell Me What I Did Wrong” (Brown) – 2:20
“Bewildered” (Leonard Whitcup, Teddy Powell) – 2:21
“Good Good Lovin'” (Brown, Albert Shubert) – 2:18
“I’ll Go Crazy” (Brown) – 2:05
“I Know It’s True” (Brown) – 2:40
“(Do the) Mashed Potatoes, Pt. 1” (Dessie Rozier) – 1:39
“Think” (Lowman Pauling) – 2:46
“Baby, You’re Right” (Brown, Joe Tex) – 2:58
“Lost Someone” (Brown, Byrd, Lloyd Eugene Stallworth) – 3:28
“Night Train” (O. Washington, Lewis Simpkins, Jimmy Forrest) 3:38
“I’ve Got Money” (Brown) – 2:29
“I Don’t Mind” [live] (Brown) – 2:29
“Prisoner of Love” (Leo Robin, Russ Columbo, Clarence Gaskin)2:24
“Devil’s Den” (Ted Wright) – 4:48
“Out of the Blue” (Wright, Terry) – 2:15
“Out of Sight” (Wright) – 2:19
“Grits” (Nat Jones, Wright) – 3:58
“Maybe the Last Time” (Wright) – 3:02
“It’s a Man’s World” (Brown, Betty Jean Newsome) – 3:22
“I Got You” (Wright) – 2:27
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pts. 1, 2 & 3” (Brown) – 6:56
Disc 2 (“The Hardest Working Man In Show Business”)
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1” (Brown) – 2:06
“I Got You (I Feel Good)” (Brown) – 2:45
“Ain’t That a Groove” (Brown, Jones) – 3:31
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (Brown, Newsome) – 2:46
“Money Won’t Change You” (Brown, Jones) – 6:01
“Don’t Be a Dropout” (Brown, Jones) – 4:31
“Bring It Up (Hipster’s Avenue)” (Brown, Jones) – 3:48
“Let Yourself Go” (Brown, Bud Hobgood) – 3:53
“Cold Sweat” (Brown, Alfred Ellis) – 7:30
“Get It Together” (Brown, Hobgood, Ellis) – 8:57
“I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me), Pt. 1” (Brown) – 3:29
“I Got the Feelin'” (Brown) – 2:39
“Licking Stick-Licking Stick” (Brown, Byrd, Ellis) – 4:52
“Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud, Pt. 1” (Brown, Ellis) – 2:59
“There Was a Time” [Live] (Brown, Hubgood) – 4:59
“Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” (Charles Bobbit) – 3:10
“I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open up the Door I’ll Get It Myself)” (Brown) – 5:59
Disc 3 (“Soul Brother No. 1”)
“Mother Popcorn” (Brown, Ellis) – 6:18
“Funky Drummer” (Brown) – 7:00
“Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” (Brown, Byrd, Ron Lenhoff) – 5:15
“Super Bad, Pts. 1 & 2” (Brown) – 4:26
“Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Nothing” (Brown, Byrd) – 8:59
“Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved” (Brown, Byrd, Lenhoff) – 7:03
“Soul Power, Pts. 1 & 2” (Brown) – 4:25
“Brother Rapp/Ain’t It Funky Now” [live] (Brown) – 7:44
“Hot Pants, Pt. 1” (Brown, Fred Wesley) – 3:06
“I’m a Greedy Man, Pt. 1” (Brown, Bobbit) – 3:36
“Make It Funky, Pt. 1” (Brown, Bobbit) – 3:34
“It’s a New Day” [live] (Brown) – 3:48
“I Got Ants in My Pants, Pt. 1” (Brown) – 3:01
“King Heroin” (Brown, Bobbit, D. Matthews, Manny Rosen) – 3:57
Disc 4 (“The Godfather Of Soul”)
“There It Is, Pt. 1” (Brown) – 3:20
“Public Enemy #1, Pt. 1” (Brown, Bobbit, Henry Stallings) – 5:09
“Get on the Good Foot” (Brown, Wesley, Joseph Mims) – 4:07
“I Got a Bag of My Own” (Brown) – 3:44
“Doing It to Death” (Brown) – 5:14
“The Payback” (Brown, Wesley, John Starks) – 7:28
“Papa Don’t Take No Mess, Pt. 1” (Brown, Wesley, Starks, Bobbit) – 4:22
“Stoned to the Bone, Pt. 1” (Brown) – 3:28
“My Thang” (Brown) – 4:37
“Funky President (People It’s Bad)” (Brown) – 4:01
“Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)” (Brown) – 5:03
“Get Up Offa That Thing (Release the Pressure)” (Diedre Jenkins, Deanna Brown, Yamma Brown) – 6:14
“Body Heat, Pt. 1” (Jenkins, D. Brown, Y. Brown) – 4:29
“It’s Too Funky in Here” (George Jackson, Walter Shaw, Brad Shapiro, Robert Miller) – 5:39
“Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses)” (J. Brown, Susaye Brown, Henry Stallings) – 4:36
“Unity, Pt. 1” (J. Brown, Khayan Aasim Bambaataa, Douglas Wimbish, Bernard Alexander, Keith LeBlanc, Robin Haplin) – 3:40
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