Wednesday, August 20, 2008

He Had the Feelin'

Nice title--I Got the Feelin’: James Brown in the 60’s (2008, Shout Factory, $40, 3-discs), and while one of the concerts featured in this three disc set, Man to Man-James Brown Live at the Apollo Theater in 1968, offers a valuable and entertaining look at Soul Brother Number One, it is the documentary The Night James Brown Saved Boston that literally demands a viewing. Brown happened to be scheduled to play the Boston Garden on April 5, 1968, one day after the fatal shooting of Martin Luther King Jr., causing much consternation to the Boston Brahmins and Mayor Kevin (Very) White, as other urban centers had broken out with rioting and they feared bringing a large group of African-Americans into the heart of the city would spell big trouble. Somehow the wise decision was made for Brown to play and to simultaneously televise the gig over the bluest of airwaves, TV public channel WGBH. Brown is magnetic, and in full bloom as a dancing, sweating, talking contradiction: capital seeking artist, dynamic performer, and inner city ambassador, and the performance footage is mesmerizing, particularly when The Godfather of Soul steps in front of the glinty-eyed policemen patrolling the stage and cools out the crowd. For those that only know Brown through the myriad sampling of his oeuvre in hip-hop, this is a must see, and the DVD’s bonus footage includes his incendiary and forever classic T.A.M.I. Show appearance.

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