Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
JAMES BROWN | Revolution of the Mind: Live at the Apollo, Volume III
Selected by Jesse Ducker
Something about the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City, always brought out the best in James Brown. The Godfather of Soul recorded and released three live albums of various performances at the Apollo, and the Revolution of the Mind double album, recorded from eight performances over three days in 1971, may be his best.
After a famous introduction by his longtime master of ceremonies Danny Ray, Mr. Brown gets busy. He’s very much in “Soul Brother #1” mode here, leading the JB’s, headed by Fred Wesley, through many revolutionary funk and soul classics. The nearly 16-minute “mash-up” of “Escapism” and “Make It Funky” is mesmerizing, and his rollicking performance of “Soul Power” pulses with energy. Brown and the band feed off the crowd, which clearly knows every note and word of the track, right down to the ad-libs.
Even when he slows things down, like when performing “Bewildered,” a longtime staple of his concerts, the crowd hangs on every note. Revolution of the Mind is a master class in moving the crowd by one of the best to ever do it.