' As is the case with the JB's and other James Brown protégés, Bobby Byrd's legacy is spread over numerous out-of-print, difficult-to-find vinyl records. So this 22-song retrospective, which gathers numerous singles, and a couple of previously unreleased tracks spanning 1964 to 1973, is a welcome consolidation of his most significant work into one package. Solid stuff, covering both standard soul from the '60s and hard funk (usually featuring the JB's) from the early '70s, though it sounds a lot more like a James Brown record with a different vocalist than a Bobby Byrd record that happens to benefit from James Brown's backing crew. Brown produced (and occasionally contributed to) all of the recordings here, and duets with Bobby on the 1968 single "You've Got to Change Your Mind." ' Richie.Unterberger@allmusic.com
The R&B, soul and boogaloo sounds that make up the singles recorded by James Brown’s right-hand man. Together on CD for the first time. Without Bobby Byrd there would have been no James Brown, whose whole career stems from the moment he crashed into Byrd at a community baseball match in Toccoa, Georgia in 1953. Brown was an inmate of the Alto Reform School, a converted National Guard Armoury in the north of the state. Byrd’s family helped secure Brown’s release, and Byrd then let the youngster join his vocal group.
A classic moment from Frederick "Toots" Hibbert – a set that's maybe his equivalent to some of the key Island Records albums of the 70s from Bob Marley & The Wailers! Like those, the production here is top-shelf – handled partly by Joe Boyd, who brings a very respectful vibe to the set – and perhaps even goes for more of the soulful currents in Toots' vocals than before – at least in ways that might cross over more to American and British audiences than in the early days. Hibbert really seems to take to the spirit of the moment, and rises up with these beautifully expressive passages – of the sort that he may never have hit this well again!
The Soul Man! is beautiful, elegant music and, contrary to what one might expect from a straightforward Prestige session, it's made up entirely of compelling, memorable originals. When the album was recorded, both Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter were in the second Miles Davis quintet, and it appears from this record that they were willing to contribute original compositions for a smaller unit under someone else's leadership, even someone as modest as Bobby Timmons, who was essentially just a reliable, bluesy pianist, while Miles was a giant. The result actually is a small gem. Shorter is at the height of his maturity as a player, delivering eloquent, lyrical statements in that rich, confident tone, while Timmons lays down solos as witty as he ever played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the "school" that gave him (and Shorter, incidentally) an assured place in the business.
' Often called "the Godfather's Godfather," Bobby Byrd found the young James Brown a home and a job so he could get out of doing time in a juvenile detention center, then served as his bandleader and arranger until 1970. Not only that, but Byrd wrote more than 40 of Brown's biggest hits, including "Sex Machine," "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing," and "I Know You Got Soul." Unfortunately, Byrd never received proper credit for much of his work, which is why he remains a relative unknown to this day. Fortunately, a small label in Europe (where Byrd has a much bigger following) rescued him from obscurity for this comeback solo LP, his first since the early '70s.' Bret.Love@allmusic.com