A towering figure in postwar American music, for over 40 years James Brown has written, produced, and performed some of the most compelling R&B ever recorded. 20 All Time Greatest Hits! distills Startime!, itself a four-CD set that barely scratched the surface of Brown's prodigious output. As such, this collection concentrates on Brown's best-known records: "I Feel Good," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Cold Sweat." The propulsive one- or two-chord vamps with Brown's hoarse, declamatory vocals laid the groundwork for modern funk. It's a perfect starter set for anyone unfamiliar with Brown's work. But be warned–Brown is addictive. Like peanuts and potato chips, it's impossible to stop with just one. Buy this and don't be surprised if one day you find yourself scouring used record bins for a rare copy of Grits and Cornbread.
The red-hot guitarist from the popular band the Waybacks brings the acoustic guitar into a modern rock sensibility with this groundbreaking DVD lesson. James Nash teaches the scales, grooves, licks, rhythm techniques and other moves that will help guitarists meet the challenges of using an unamplified guitar in a louder, more contemporary setting.
James Brown's two-CD 40th Anniversary Collection gathered 40 of the soul-funk giant's biggest hits, and in keeping with its title, The 50th Anniversary Collection is just that little bit bigger and better, with (could you guess?) 50 of his most famous tracks. From 1956's "Please, Please, Please" to 1988's "Static, Pts. 1 & 2," it has almost all of his biggies, though the absence of the 1986 Top Five hit "Living in America" is puzzling indeed. But that's a minor quibble given the dozens of classics onboard, which taken as a whole not only represent the best Brown compilation on the market, but also make a plain case for the singer as one of the major talents of 20th century American music. It's not wholly redundant on the off-chance that you're willing to replace 40th Anniversary Collection, mopping up a few hits of note ("Bewildered," "Bring It Up," "Let Yourself Go," "I Can't Stand Myself [When You Touch Me], Pt. 1," "It's a New Day, Pt. 1," "The Popcorn") that didn't make the cut the previous time around. If you're keeping score, it does lose a couple minor goodies from 40th Anniversary Collection ("Money Won't Change You," "King Heroin"). Also, the '70s funk years might be given too much emphasis and his R&B-soul beginnings shortchanged, though there are plenty of other reissues of his '50s/'60s material out there if you want to investigate further.