Friday, September 23, 2011

"I Feel Good" by James Brown

To put it quite simply, James Brown was to music as Muhammad Ali was to boxing; that is to say that they both changed all the rules, resulting in a more equitable share of the profits generated by their efforts. Prior to these two men of color, African-American artists, and boxers, were routinely "ripped off" by their managers, as well as the media who exploited them.

His early life consisted of virtually no formal education, yet he had a vision of the sound he wanted to achieve. Teaming up with Bobby Byrd, he altered the course of R&B forever, while at the same time giving birth to "Soul" Music. He is, of course, known as the "Godfather of Soul", as well as the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business". Just You Tube "Please, Please, Please" sometime and watch this man work his incredible talent. Few people realize that James Brown could play several instruments, arrange and even conduct his own music when necessary. The result was always staggering.

After only a brief stint as a member of the Flames, Mr. Brown took over the group, in the same way that Chuck Berry took over Johnnie Johnson's band. It wasn't sinister, they simply were the best front men for those bands.

When Boston was about to erupt into violence, on the evening of Martin Luther King's assassination, it was James Brown who quelled the riot. Using only words, he was able to turn an angry mob at his show, who were being harassed by the police for climbing on the stage to touch him, back into an audience. This video shows part of that concert, with the action described here taking place between 1:58 and 3:40 into the video. This man commanded "respect", and got it, too!

In May of 2002 he teamed up with Luciano Pavarotti and performed "It's a Man's World" at the Opera House in Modena, Italy. Pavarotti sang, using his famous voice, in a stunning counterpoint to Mr. Brown's. He even sang a completely different melody, though I do not know the name of the song which he used. The effect is amazing. You can watch it here with the translation;

Although his later years were shadowed by drug use, including the infamous 2 state, crack fueled police chase, James Brown was the man. This book takes the reader on a lifes journey in the author's own words, including his views on race and politics. In the book, just as in life, James Brown gives it his all, holding nothing back.

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