James Brown “Live at the Apollo”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#442 in the Series) is James Brown, Live at the Apollo

I often look at “Top” lists when I decide which album to feature.  I sometimes look thru “Top Live Albums” and such just to get ideas. The one album that may show up more than any other album on those top lists is this one, James Brown, Live at the Apollo.

This was recorded in late 1962 and released in 1963.  I wonder, not only is this one of the best live albums of all time, but it’s also got to be one of the first live albums as well.

What’s more interesting is the fact that this album almost was never released.  This was all James Brown’s idea, not his labels. He paid for all the recording to get this done. Always an innovator, he knew that getting this on the street would be huge for him. Still, after it was recorded, James’ label, King Records, still didn’t want anything to do with it. They didn’t think a live album without any new material would be of much interest to the buying public, not to mention the fact that they weren’t sure what AM radio would do with live tracks. They played single, what would they do with this. It took immense pressure from James Brown himself to get it out.  You think JB was right? It ended up being ranked #24 on Rolling Stone Magazines list of the Top 500 albums of all time.

It eventually would be on Billboards Top 200 Album chart for 66 weeks. It would peak at #2.

It would be an inspiration for many.  A far reaching inspiration as well, in fact, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer cites Live at the Apollo as the inspiration for “Kick Out the Jams.” My guess is especially the “Kick” part of it!

The centerpiece of the album is the long medley which includes pieces of  “Please, Please, Please”/”You’ve Got The Power”/”I Found Someone”/”Why Do You Do Me”/”I Want You So Bad”/”I Love You, Yes I Do”/”Strange Things Happen” and “Bewildered.”

I think my favorite track on the album might be “I Don’t Mind.” He slows it down here.  It’s a great way to hear his spectacular voice. Here he strips away most of his trademark screaming and yelling and gets down to traditional soul styling’s.

We waited a long time for this to be released on CD. They couldn’t find the masters. It wasn’t until 1990 that it came to be in that format.

I’ve included as much of the album I could find. Give it a listen. I’ve also added a couple of bonus videos. One is his unbelievable appearance on the TAMI Show video. The next is a great video of JB and Luciano Pavarotti together in concert. Watch these is nothing else!

–Larry Carta

Track Listing

  1. “I’ll Go Crazy” – 2:05
  2. “Try Me” – 2:14
  3. “Think” – 1:45
  4. “I Don’t Mind” – 2:28
  5. “Lost Someone” – 10:43
  6. Medley: “Please, Please, Please”/”You’ve Got The Power”/”I Found Someone”/”Why Do You Do Me”/”I Want You So Bad”/”I Love You, Yes I Do”/”Strange Things Happen”/”Bewildered”/”Please, Please, Please” – 6:27
  7. “Night Train” – 3:26


  • Bobby Bennett Vocals
  • James Brown Vocals
  • Les Buie Guitar
  • Bobby Byrd Organ, Vocals
  • Al “Brisco” Clark Sax
  • Clayton Fillyau Drums
  • Lucas Fats Gonder Organ
  • Louis Hamblin Trumpet
  • Mack Johnson Trumpet
  • Sam Latham Drums
  • Clifford MacMillan Sax
  • Hubert Perry Bass
  • St. Clair Pinckney Sax
  • Lloyd Stallworth Vocals
  • Teddy Washington Trumpet
  • Waldo Weathers Sax
  • Dicky Wells Trombone


BONUS VIDEOs. James Brown’s 1964 performance from “The T.A.M.I. Show” followed by an UNBELIEVABLE video of JB and Luciano Pavarotti. A Must see!

Posted by Larry Carta

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