Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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I'm Back
Georgia Lina/Mercury

Fact is, James Brown was back in force on Live at the Apollo 1995, and several of his Scotti Bros. studio albums are of '90s vintage. But the Godfather can get away with calling his new one I'm Back because he knows he's taken for granted. And the fact also is, Brown is correct to act as if he's put such likely-seeming recent helpmates as Dan Hartman, Full Force, and Narada Michael Walden to shame. Instead of bowing to electrobeat fashion, Brown and collaborator Derrick Monk create a dozen classic funk tracks square in the founder's definitive tradition. Three mixes of "Funk on Ah Roll" reclaim Jimmy Nolen chicken-scratch for the engine of life it is, "James on the Loose" collages him cunningly, and the relaxed "Kare" makes love not noise. Fact is, Brown released plenty of '70s albums far less memorable than this one.

Rolling Stone, 1998