Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

James Brown: Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 [Polydor, 1998]
Counting the half-studio Sex Machine, this makes Brown's fifth live album from the crucial 1967-1971 period--and except for Sex Machine, it's also the best. Its chief competition, Live at the Apollo Volume II, was released a few weeks after it was recorded, but Brown moved so fast in those years that the Apollo record is radically different, a soul envoi at a moment when, as here, the funked-over "Cold Sweat" was his centerpiece and the daring "Say It Loud--I'm Black and I'm Proud" his pride and joy. From touchstone to newborn, from bop-inflected Maceo on the piss-break instrumental to born-again JB on the climax medley, breakneck intensity for the ages. A-