Number 1's

by: James Brown

It's kind of a shame that the first compilation Universal/Polydor released in the wake of James Brown's Christmas 2006 death -- not counting Hip-O Select's ongoing complete singles series, which was in the works prior to the Godfather of Soul's demise -- is an entry in their shabbily assembled budget-line series Number 1's. Not that the music on the comp is bad -- hardly. This is a very good roundup of 19 of the most familiar hits, almost all dating from 1965's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" on, with a heavy concentration on late-'60s and early-'70s funk, including Fred Wesley & the JB's "Doing It to Death." Some may complain that there aren't many of the early King singles here -- only "Try Me" -- no "Think," "I'll Go Crazy," "Night Train" or others, but for many casual fans, this is the JB they know best and it's an affordable way to get all the biggest songs in one place. The only drawback is the flimsy cardboard packaging. Sure, it may be 100-percent biodegradable, but it feels disposable -- which is a bit bothersome in normal cases, but since this is the first James Brown disc after his death, it's hard not to wish that it felt a little bit more substantial. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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