The Universal Music Group's Hip-O Select imprint is an Internet mail-order division devoted to high-priced, limited-edition collections of music from the Universal vaults. Its James Brown series, starting with The Singles, Vol. 1: The Federal Years: 1956-1960
and continuing with The Singles, Vol. 2: 1960-1963
, has presented Brown's recordings as they were issued in chronological order on 45-rpm records. While that has meant skipping over LP tracks, especially in the second volume, and sequencing somewhat out of order of actual recording dates, it's an approach that has given a good sense of Brown's musical progression. There are complications when it comes to The Singles, Vol. 3: 1964-1965
. At the end of 1963, Brown entered into a contract dispute with his record label, King Records. He stopped recording for King and even signed a contract with another label, Smash Records (a subsidiary of Mercury Records). But King went right on putting out Brown singles by delving into its catalog of LP tracks and altering other previously released recordings without Brown's knowledge or permission. For example, Brown's Live at the Apollo
album had been a big success in 1963, so King overdubbed screams and applause onto Brown's 1956 recording "Please, Please, Please" to make it sound like a live performance and re-released it as a single in January 1964; it's now the opening track here. Meanwhile, Brown was experimenting with his style, and his first recordings for Smash included forays into covers of jump blues (Louis Jordan
's "Caldonia") and straight blues (Guitar Slim
's "The Things That I Used to Do"). This album follows the month-by-month progression of King's output interspersed with Brown's search for direction, as the recording dates of the tracks jump back and forth. Eventually, Brown found his feet and came to an accommodation with King in time to cut such classics as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," which appear toward the end of the second disc.