Legal battle keeps album under wraps

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The infighting over James Brown's estate is not only stalling the creation of "Soul-land" at his home and jeopardizing his charitable trust for poor children, it's also keeping the world from hearing the funk pioneer's final recordings.

His longtime adviser, attorney Buddy Dallas, said Mr. Brown cut a studio album the summer before he died, and it's now among the projects stymied by courtroom battles over who should profit from his likeness and music royalties.

"Everything's tied up," said Mr. Dallas, who quit as an estate trustee in November but has since sought to retract his resignation, saying he was improperly pressured by Aiken County Judge Jack Early.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles in 2006, but Mr. Brown never gave the go-ahead to release it, Mr. Dallas said. Between 50 and 70 other tracks remain in vaults, he said.

Daryl Brown, the singer's fourth son and lead guitarist for his backing band, the Soul Generals, said he's not aware of anything his father recorded in California that year.

Mr. Brown and the Soul Generals were working on an album at Studio South Productions in Martinez, but they finished only two songs, Daryl Brown said.

One of them, Gut Bucket Funk, can be heard on the Soul Generals' MySpace page.

But there are scores of unreleased tracks, Daryl Brown confirmed. Some are in vaults; others are likely on master tapes in the pool house of the Beech Island estate, dating back to around 1996, he said.

"Those will be revealed after all the legalities get over with," said the guitarist, who is among five heirs seeking to void their father's will.

In the meantime, the renamed J.B. Soul Generals are recording an album to be produced by funk bassist and former J.B.'s member Bootsy Collins, Daryl Brown said, and they're planning a James Brown tribute album along with Mr. Collins, Herbie Hancock, Chuck D, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc.

Mr. Brown, the "Godfather of Soul" whose revolutionary riffs and beats paved the way for modern hip hop music, died in Atlanta on Christmas Day 2006, at 73.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or


James Brown had not released any commercially significant new works since the late 1980s: Gravity and I'm Real. The single I'm Real reached No. 2 on the U.S. R&B chart in 1988.

His last single to reach No. 1 was Papa Don't Take No Mess in 1974. Living in America went to No. 4 on the U.S. chart and No. 10 on the R&B chart in 1984.

His last studio release, not counting compilations, was The Next Step in 2002.

Demand can be high, though, for posthumously released recordings:

- Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York went to No. 1 after Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994.

- George Harrison's Brainwashed - completed after his 2001 death - reached No. 18 on the Billboard charts.

- Aaliyah's single More than a Woman topped the charts after her 2001 death in a plane crash.

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intheknow 01/01/08 - 11:15 am
Yeah Dallas, we know how

Yeah Dallas, we know how concerned you are about Mr. Brown's estate.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/01/08 - 02:30 pm
Interesting how Brown's son

Interesting how Brown's son doesn't remember a California recording session in 2006 and Dallas does. Should be easy to figure it out. Dallas could play one of the songs for reporters to hear (kind of like Huckabee did with the negative campaign ad). Until there is a resolution, it sounds to me like Dallas trying to get more sympathy for his pathetic claim that he really shouldn't have signed the resignation letter.

WW1949 01/01/08 - 07:42 pm
Intheknow, do you know or do

Intheknow, do you know or do you think you know. I do not believe anybody knows yet.

EdithPiaf 01/01/08 - 11:18 pm
Denali...... huh???

Denali...... huh???

iletuknow 01/01/08 - 11:31 pm
Could the Chronicle offer us

Could the Chronicle offer us a new years resolution and keep the lid on all the twists and turns of James Brown Inc.?
It's a big world out there, how bout something new?

savannah1234 01/02/08 - 12:57 am
So I traveled to Augusta for

So I traveled to Augusta for the Christmas this year to spend it with my in-laws and James Brown was pretty much the only news story in the paper and on TV. My question here is the same one I asked everyone in the Augusta area that I came in contact with. "What did JB do for the CSRA that he deserves this press?" The answers I heard were, "I dunno", "He passes out turkeys". I never heard of him playing ay concerts there untill I read online about the whole JB Festival debacle. So online readers, "What did JB do for the CSRA?" Did he ever bring any of his big name friends to the area to play? Did HE ever play (it was unclear if he played the festival in his name all). I am not trying to tear down the man or the love the city has for him I just really want to know WHY you love him so if he really didn't do anything for the city? Thanks and I look forward to making it back to Augusta.

ThurstonHowell 01/02/08 - 12:06 pm
savannah, you seem to be

savannah, you seem to be internet capable, do some research. i once saw a bio on him and was impressed by the fact that he's always been charitable even in the sixties when he first started out in music. He funded education initiatives for at risk youth back in the seventies. This is also a man who influenced musicians all over the world, everybody knows his songs. Its disappointing that he's the only thing Augusta has going other than golf but that's the way it is. It's alot easier to moan "what did JB do for Aug" than spend the time finding out.

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