May 07, 1991
Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk, Early R&B

Album Review

When the four-disc Star Time box was released in 1991, James Brown's catalog sorely needed an overhaul; much of it was out of print, and what was available was hardly befitting of his magnitude. Star Time got everything right: it put Brown's hugely influential career into striking perspective, helping to complete his critical renaissance, and the richness of its music set a standard for box sets in general. It was no easy task to balance Brown's lengthy, multi-part funk workouts with the need to include all of his most significant tracks, and the compilers did an excellent job in deciding when and when not to truncate ("Cold Sweat," for example, must be heard in its entirety). There's nothing from Live at the Apollo (which should be experienced start to finish), and his last hurrah on the pop charts, "Living in America," is missing, but these 71 tracks cover all the other high points, and make an eloquent case for Brown as the greatest R&B artist of all time. Disc One covers Brown's early R&B years, when his pleading intensity helped lay the groundwork for soul music. Disc Two, however, is where his genius truly crystallizes -- it basically chronicles the birth of funk, as Brown gradually discards song structure in favor of working hard grooves; it also offers a picture of Brown's emergence as a bandleader and spokesman for black pride. Disc Three features Brown's hardest funk, including his much-revered material with the Bootsy Collins band. Disc Four traces Brown's later creative decline, yet he duplicated his former glories often enough to make this disc a surprisingly solid listen; plus, his massive impact on hip-hop is underlined on the last track, the Afrika Bambaataa duet "Unity." Star Time paved the way for several other excellent compilations which highlighted different parts of Brown's vast legacy, but as the definitive retrospective of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century (black or otherwise), it has yet to be equaled.
Steve Huey, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Please, Please, Please
  2. Why Do You Do Me
  3. Try Me
  4. Tell Me What I Did Wrong
  5. Bewildered
  6. Good Good Lovin'
  7. I'll Go Crazy
  8. I Know It's True
  9. (Do the) Mashed Potatoes, Pt. 1
  10. Think
  11. Baby, You're Right [Alternate Take][#]
  12. Lost Someone
  13. Night Train
  14. I've Got Money
  15. I Don't Mind [Live]
  16. Prisoner of Love
  17. Devil's Den
  18. Out of the Blue [Alternate Take][#]
  19. Out of Sight
  20. Grits
  21. Maybe the Last Time
  22. It's a Man's Man's Man's World
  23. I Got You
  24. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Pts. 1-3 [Complete Take][#]
  25. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1
  26. I Got You (I Feel Good)
  27. Ain't That a Groove
  28. It's a Man's Man's Man's World
  29. Money Won't Change You [Complete Version][#]
  30. Don't Be a Dropout [Unedited Version][#]
  31. Bring It Up (Hipster's Avenue) [Unedited Version][#]
  32. Let Yourself Go [Unedited Version][#]
  33. Cold Sweat
  34. Get It Together
  35. I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me), Pt. 1
  36. I Got the Feelin'
  37. Licking Stick-Licking Stick
  38. Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)
  39. There Was a Time [Live]
  40. Give It Up or Turnit a Loose
  41. I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It M
  42. Mother Popcorn
  43. Funky Drummer
  44. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
  45. Super Bad, Pts. 1-2 [Stereo Mix][#]
  46. Talking Loud and Saying Nothing [Extended Version]
  47. Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
  48. Soul Power, Pts. 1-2 [Stereo Mix/Unedited][#]
  49. Brother Rapp/Ain't It Funky Now [Live][#]
  50. Hot Pants, Pt. 1
  51. I'm a Greedy Man, Pt. 1
  52. Make It Funky, Pt. 1
  53. It's a New Day [Live]
  54. I Got Ants in My Pants (And I Want to Dance), Pt. 1
  55. King Heroin
  56. There It Is, Pt. 1
  57. Public Enemy No. 1, Pt. 1
  58. Get on the Good Foot
  59. I Got a Bag of My Own
  60. Doing It to Death
  61. The Payback
  62. Papa Don't Take No Mess, Pt.11
  63. Stoned to the Bone, Pt. 1
  64. My Thang [Undubbed Mix][#]
  65. Funky President (People It's Bad)
  66. Hot (I Need to Be Loved, Loved, Loved)
  67. Get up Offa That Thing
  68. Body Heat, Pt. 1
  69. It's Too Funky in Here
  70. Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses?)
  71. Unity, Pt. 1: The Third Coming