Day 204: James Brown – Live at the Apollo

20 Sep

I’ll Go Crazy

When I saw that my dad picked a live record for this week’s Dad-Rock Tuesday, I admit that I was a little skeptical.  In order to appreciate a live recording, one usually needs to be a fan of the band, as well as the material being played.  I know that the Hold Steady’s A Positive Rage would sound awful to an ear unfamiliar with Craig Finn’s “singing,” And I couldn’t possibly imagine listening to a live White Stripes record without knowing that Meg White is supposed to be bad at playing her instrument.

Then he told me that it’s just over half an hour in length, and I stopped worrying.  Brown’s Live at the Apollo is apparently an iconic and important record anyway.

Not that I’m basing this off of something factual or anything—this is Swole Ear after all— but this record may be considered “great” because Brown is showcased in his natural habitat—the stage.  Even though I haven’t heard a full studio album by the guy, I’m well aware of his legendary live performances.  This record almost places you in Harlem that night in 1962.  Brown is always improvising and interacting with the crowd, it’s easy to hear why his live shows are loved.

The key word there is “almost.”  Live at the Apollo has the same problem that pretty much every live record has: concert recordings cannot duplicate the concert experience.  What was it that James Brown did that led to the sudden collective scream of approval from the audience?  How great was the anticipation of the crowd, who possibly had been waiting weeks for the show?  Something is lost when a concert is only listened to after the fact.


6 Responses to “Day 204: James Brown – Live at the Apollo”

  1. Jethro Chops September 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Make it funky – and see it live: . This clip is great if only for the sub-titles in French.

  2. B. Frank September 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    When I hear James Brown, I think everybody else should just give up. Could anyone ever be THAT cool? Note that the Apollo is in Harlem which is in Manhattan.

  3. elcheeserpuff September 21, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I never cared for Ben Folds (mostly on principle) until I heard one of his live albums and everything changed. That live album inspired me to actually check out his work and take every attempt presented to me to go see that mother fucker live.

    • Dave Folds Five September 21, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      If you liked the live album, you should definitely check out the live session Mr. Folds did for myspace, ECP. This is among the highlights:

      And what were your principled objections to Herr Folds? His tawdry association with the former captain of the Enterprise? His false advertising in naming his trio the Ben Folds Five? I am intrigued.

      • elcheeserpuff September 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

        I actually just got Shatner’s album and am a pretty big fan of it, haha (as big of a fan as one can be of an album like that). The main reason that kept me away from Folds was that he was my older sister’s favorite back when I was of the age that sisters were lame, haha.

        I have now seen Ben Folds twice, both times with my sister, haha.

  4. Yuanny Dollar September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Mr. Ear, I’m a little confused. Here, you seem to pan live recordings (except if you saw the show), but a couple of days ago, you panned Dolly Parton’s Jolene because it couldn’t compare to a live version (your link) by the White Stripes. The White Stripes’ studio version of Jolene can’t hold a candle to Dolly’s studio version. Help me understand.

    Let me guess the answer: “It’s Swoleear — you expect coherence and consistency? Please.”

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