James Brown's release on parole was lost amid the media's end-of-war coverage, but that doesn't mean the 57-year-old soul singer, who walked away from a Columbia, S.C., jail on Feb. 27 a free man, isn't getting attention. In December 1988, when Brown began serving a six-year term for aggravated assault and failure to stop for police, he seemed to be on his last legs. Now, thanks to flashy boxing promoter Butch Lewis (who recently took control of Brown's career and who has worked with Michael Spinks and James ''Buster'' Douglas), a major Brown comeback is in the works. Expect a new album in May, a pay-per- view cable special, and a concert at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium (with possible special guest M.C. Hammer) in July.
Brown, who is on probation for eight years, will get royal treatment with the May release of Star Time, a four-CD, 72-track boxed set spanning 1956-1984. The PolyGram collection will include all his hits plus such rarities as live jam sessions and a never-released version of ''Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.'' Amazing what a little jail time can do for one's career. As for the new songs, Brown has said they will relate to his experience in the slammer, and that the music will be ''something you never heard.''