Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pleased Pleased Pleased By JB Documentary

Having seen the HBO documentary "Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown" this past weekend, I was struck by the complexity of the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business." On the one hand, as a performer, you can't help but watch with your jaw hanging open. The clips are just amazing. All of his most memorable moments are here. I have seen the "T.A.M.I. Show" and his medley on "The Ed Sullivan Show" many times, but it never grows old. There were a few moments on stage that were new to me, such as his Boston appearance right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that filled me with admiration. The best of the lot, however, came after he broke in "Catfish" and "Bootsy" Collins. There is a rendition of "Sex Machine" near the end of the program that literally got me off the couch.

On the other hand, in interview after interview, Brown is painted as a tyrant and thief by former members of the band. He treated everyone around him roughly, including the ladies. Is this the price for perfection? Politically, my head was spinning as he seemed to do and say everything right on issues of race and civil rights throughout the '60s, only to abandon the Democrats and back Nixon in 1972. Sounds ridiculous, but then he says, "I don't want nobody to give me nothing." Then he adds, "Open the door and I'll get it myself." I told you he was complex.

Mick Jagger co-produced the documentary, and he adds a little levity early on with a tale of how things went down behind the scenes of the "T.A.M.I. Show." The Roots' ?uestlove adds perspective to Brown's vast influence today. This was a well-done documentary that I highly recommend. My only gripe was it felt like the filmmaker whizzed by Brown's moustache era a little too fast. However, it was kind of the powers that be to spare us the '80s and beyond.

Here's a quick promo of the film. I also dug up Brown's appearance on the "T.A.M.I. Show." I thought you might also enjoy a listen to an early song. "Good Good Lovin'" was recorded Jun 27, 1959 with the Famous Flames. On the heels of the smash "Try Me," this one should have been his next big hit. Sadly, it didn't chart, but it's always been one of my favorites. I'm taking this one from 'CD of JB II." Those two volumes were my introduction to Brown... back in 1987. It appears they are out of print.

James Brown - Good Good Lovin'


george said...

Has there ever been a better entrance to a show than that for the TAMI Show? I can watch it over and over and over and it will always make me smile, and admire, it's just fantastic. And that's a great R&B song he performs. I suppose we all to an extent overlook the "indiscretions" of certain performers and appreciate the music.
I'm watching the clip again, it's breathtaking, brilliant, inspiring....great great post, Brian.

Brian said...

Thanks for the encouragement, George. We certainly do overlook the indiscretions. Right now I'm really into his early stuff... through about 1964. I have listened to Bewildered about 20 times since Saturday.