Personnel includes: James Brown (vocals, piano, organ, synthesizer); Lyn Collins (vocals); Jimmy Nolen, Hearlon "Cheese" Martin, Joe Beck, Sam Brown, Charlie Brown (guitar); Joe Farrell (reeds, tenor saxophone); Eddie Daniels, David Tofani (reeds); Maceo Parker, Jimmy Parker, David Sanborn (alto saxophone); St. Clair Pinckney, Frank Vicari (tenor saxophone); Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis (baritone saxophone); Isiah "Ike" Oakley, Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis (trumpet); Jimmy Buffington (French horn); Fred Wesley (trombone, tambourine, percussion, background vocals); Michael Gipson, Tom Harrell (trombone); Dave Matthews (piano, electric piano); Fred Thomas, Gordon Edwards, Charles Sherrell (bass); John "Jabo" Starks, John Morgan, Jimmy Madison (drums).
Originally released on Polydor (9001). Includes liner notes by Alan Leeds.
Digitally remastered by Gary Mayo (Polygram Studios).
HELL was released at an interesting juncture in Brown's career. This 1974 album came in the wake of the highly regarded PAYBACK, and the unusual decision was made to include re-recorded versions of seven previously released songs. The packaging of the album leads one to believe that this is Brown's big social statement about the plight of those living in American ghettoes. Only the title song seems to address these issues, however powerfully. That's not to say HELL isn't full of captivating cuts, though. From the unrelenting '70s funk of "Sayin' and Doin' It" to the Latin feel given to "Please, Please, Please" this recording is full of obscure treasures. A few of the tracks feature the JB's, but most include killer session players like Gordon Edwards and Jimmy Madison. Interesting trivial note: almost all the songs are inexplicably separated by the crash of a gong.