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I Feel Good: Very Best of
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  • While the title might lead fans to expect a collection of the soul icon's biggest hits, I Feel Good: The Very Best of James Brown devotes relatively little space to Brown's best-known tracks, and instead focuses on JB's legendary reputation as an indefatigable groove machine. Sure, there are some major hits on board -- "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," and "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World," among others -- but they're outnumbered by lengthy workouts that testify to Brown's well-deserved legacy as one of the pioneering architects of funk, including the surreal 13-minute "Dead on It" and the intense nine-minute "People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul." I Feel Good doesn't shy away from some of the more obscure and eccentric moments in Brown's catalog, such as "The Future Shock of the World" and "The Soul of a Black Man," letting the groove alone seemingly dictate what makes the cut, and if this collection isn't meant for casual observers or folks just looking for hits, the track selection is made to order for DJs looking to move the crowd with heavy-duty funk, or fans who want to study at length the staggering power and finesse of Brown's various backing bands of the '60s and '70s. (It's all the more amazing to contemplate that most of this material was cut live in the studio, with Brown and his musicians locking in to these rhythms in real time). I Feel Good isn't a James Brown hits collection for dabblers or folks looking for his radio hits, but as a study of his groundbreaking funk sessions, this is crucial stuff. ~ Mark Deming
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