Smack in the middle of James Brown's extensive catalog is a nearly forgotten release from May 1967: Live At The Garden. Like so many other live records of the era, it was overshadowed by Brown's blazing landmark album Live At The Apollo, then further eclipsed a year later by another Apollo LP. Adding to the obscurity is that, although intended to highlight Soul Brother No. 1's groundbreaking ascension to headlining status at New York's Madison Square Garden, the album was actually recorded over several performances at a nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey - then doctored in the studio with fake applause and arena ambience, and edited in a fashion that truncated the show's best moments.
Hip-oSelect.com now tears the roof the sucker to reveal the original show from the famed Latin Casino, in the 2-CD set Live At The Garden: Expanded Edition, which also includes the U.S. CD debut of the original mono album. The collection's unreleased material, newly mixed from the original four-track master tapes - and sonically rescued from the venue's haphazard recording techniques - captures the raw excitement of James Brown Experience circa January '67, resulting in a soaring, searing revue of emerging funk and hit ballads. This Expanded Edition is also unique to all other James Brown live albums, as it features JB and band in a nightclub, not a theater or arena, with a delightfully casual pacing unheard anywhere else.
We've got two hours of straight-ahead JBE: the opening instrumental set, with the boss leading his incredible orchestra from behind the organ, including 10 minutes of "Night Train," and, for the first time, the full Star Time portion of the show - highlighted by an unedited version of "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," tracks left off the LP including "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" and "Come Rain Or Come Shine," and some alternate versions of what was included on the album.
Also included is the full version - as well as a revealing instrumental warm-up - of the hit single "Let Yourself Go," recorded in an empty Casino after one of the shows that weekend. (It had been included on the LP with more of the fake applause.) Special mention must go to Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, holding it all together from the bandstand. One of the JB Orchestra's newest sax and keyboard players, he was made its leader literally the first night of the engagement.
Alan Leeds, a former Brown employee and Grammy® Award winner who's also the set's co-producer, lays out the whole story in a fascinating essay. The 24-page booklet also contains show memorabilia, rare photos, and a roster of the tour staff that winter. The Expanded Edition cover art is a slightly tweaked version of the original cover - a fitting souvenir of a great night from the never-ending James Brown Experience.