Having been a huge fan of Al Green ever since laying ears upon 1973’s underrated gem “Call Me”, I’ve been digging soul music.
So, rather fittingly, I’ve gone ten years back (well 11 actually, but who’s counting?) to the godfather of soul himself, James Brown. See, as much as I love Green’s delivery, I want some highly energized and frenzied soul. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I was looking for.
“Live At the Apollo” is a volatile mouthful, so to speak. Here we see a younger Brown at the top of his game, uttering each word of every song with utter conviction. Not to mention that “alive” factor that pervades the entire runtime. It’s as if you can really “feel” Brown’s presence and are able to live through the audience’s gleeful yelps. I know I’ve used this phrase once before, but this album is an entirely immersive, communal experience. “Apollo” BURSTS at the seams with raw, untethered energy and passion, such that it’s simply magnificent.
Like most desert island masterpieces, it’s always tough to narrow down my favorite track. Each song here is quite necessary and essential in its own right. Each song truly is breathtaking. It’s astonishing (in every sense of the word) to hear Brown and Co. produce such candid, lively and eternal music.
Quite frankly, this album makes me want to get up and frenetically dance and sing my ass off! Anyways, my favorite track is the funk masterpiece, “Night Train”. Holy shit, this song is spectacular. An explosive synthesis (quite contrary isn’t it?) of soul, funk and rock n roll, “Train” is the album closer of all album closers that I’ve come across. “The nightttttttt train carry me homeeeeeeeee!”
Groove to this album, screw to it; but most importantly, simply enjoy it and revel in its soulful tendencies. Simply put, this is a dirty and energetic “wrecking ball” of an album. Awesome, just awesome. A desert island pick that’s for damn sure!
My Grade: B