BOBBY BYRD — I Need Help (Live On Stage) (review)

BOBBY BYRD — I Need Help (Live On Stage) album cover Live album · 1970 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Bobby Byrd was James Brown’s long running second hand man who could lead the band with just as much soul power as brother James. Bobby was the original leader of the Famous Flames back in the 50s when he went out of his way to keep a young James out of prison, eventually making James the leader of his band. On “I Need Help”, Bobby takes center stage for a hard sweaty workout of early 70s funk, soul and RnB. By the time 1970 had rolled around James and his crew had just invented the new funk sound and their approach to these new rhythms was relentless. This was probably the most talented and downright hot and kinetic RnB band ever. Everything they played in this new funky style was like a controlled rhythm riot on the verge of an incendiary meltdown. Three cuts on here represent that new fierce sound; “I Need Help”, “You Got to Have a Job” and “Hangups”, with “I Need Help” rating high with some of the band’s best output.

The rest of this album is good too, but most of it is in an older RnB style. Many of these songs seem to channel the recently deceased Otis Redding, possibly trying to pick up some of his audience. Other influences include Wilson Pickett and James’ pre-funk RnB stylings. Bobby has a great voice and it’s a mystery as to why he was not a more popular singer. On a side note, some of the ballads on here feature a variety of orchestrations, the fuzzed out guitar playing classical melodies on “My Concerto” is a particular curiosity. This album is presented as a live set, but the canned applause sounds fake.

For fans of James’ and Bobby’s intense early 70s funk jams, you get three great cuts on here. For fans of Bobby’s classic soulful voice, you get a whole album of great ballads and classic RnB grooves.
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