Title: Live at Home with His Bad Self
Artist: James Brown
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: October 25, 2019
This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of James Brown’s homecoming concert in Augusta, Georgia’s Bell Auditorium on October 1, 1969. Live at Home with His Bad Self captures this historic performance by the legendary Soul Brother No. 1 and the James Brown Orchestra with occasional dialogue by Brown and emcee Maceo Parker. Intended to “attract notoriety” to his hometown, Brown “decided to record this local concert and commemorate it with a live album” for release during the Christmas season of 1969. Unfortunately, the two-disc album was shelved for various reasons. While some selections were issued on previous compilations, Live at Home with His Bad Self finally includes the concert in its entirety from start to finish, just in time for the 2019 holiday season.
The album opens with a riveting version of Brown’s significant hit “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” a song that promoted the concept of Black empowerment and Black solidarity (later issued on the Motherlode collection in 1988). Brown then takes a moment to acknowledge and thank the community of Augusta for attending the concert before transitioning into his socially conscious performance of “World,” sung over a tape of the instrumental studio recording. This is followed by Brown’s brief dialogue with the audience. Next we hear Brown and band members offering two funky instrumental performances, “Lowdown Popcorn” and “Spinning Wheel,” with Brown leading the way on the organ. At that point, Brown slows it down on his stirring performance of “If I Ruled the World” before moving to the foot-stomping rendering of “Kansas City,” which concludes the first set of the evening.
The second set begins with another of Brown’s notable classics, “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I’ll Get It Myself),” a song that encouraged Black pride and self-sufficiency within the African American community. While most of the songs performed during the second set were included on the Sex Machine album in 1970, now we can enjoy the original unedited live versions along with the soulful, funkified unissued renderings of “I Got The Feelin’,” “Try Me,” and “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose.” All tracks were restored and newly mixed for this project, and liner notes are provided by the album’s co-producer Alan Leed, Brown’s former tour manager and the foremost expert and all things related to the Godfather of Soul.
Live at Home with His Bad Self is certainly a fantastic addition to the historical legacy of funk legend James Brown. This is a must have for all you soul lovers out there! For the first time in fifty years, listeners are able to experience this dynamic performance in all of its glory as they imagine themselves dancing through a hot autumn night down in Georgia.
Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste