Monday, December 25, 2006

The big payback.

Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Minister of The New New Super Heavy Funk, Mr. Please Please Please, The Boss, the Godfather of Soul.

Our little burg had a big civic celebration back in 1966. I was twelve. Said celebration included a "Teen Dance" featuring a few local bands, and headlined by The McCoys ("Hang on Sloopy) and the James Brown Revue.

Sweet Jesus. James Brown in 1966 playing for a buncha pimply-faced, slack-jawed yokels at a roller rink in Wheeling W.Va. Talk about pearls before swine. We had heard him on the radio, of course. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Feel Good" had been huge hits. But when James Brown came to our town and got all the way down on "Please, Please Please", and they came out to place that red sequined cape on his apparently exhausted frame, and he burst forward in a climactic cloud of trumpets and triumph and sweat and pain and cheap pomade, well, what could a 12 year-old white kid do but literally burst into tears from the sheer passion of it all.

It was like having a ticket to watch Michaelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. But with a horn section.

UPDATE: Jason Chervokas has a nice piece on JB.

FURTHER UPDATE: It seems JB will be lying in state, as it were, for a public viewing Thursday at (wait for it) The Apollo Theatre. Now that's just perfect. Just perfect.


  • Awesome - seeing JB in '66 is like seeing XTC in '81 - which I did.

    All the best to you and your family - and thanks for continuing to visit my desolate blog...

    By Blogger The Viscount LaCarte, at 10:26 AM  

  • Yer both bistards.

    Well, saw th' Police in '81. There's that.

    Fuck JB being dead. Trade you three Federlines, a Rove, a Hilton and 4 Cheneys.

    By Blogger Bobby Lightfoot, at 2:54 PM  

  • Yeah, this is a tough one. JB was the best. As I mentioned on my blog a couple weeks back, I've been devoting some serious time to JB's 50th Anniversary sets lately. "Please, Please Please" "Bewildered"... damn, you ssaid it right. The man had passion.

    By Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas, at 9:54 PM  

  • The dude was a master arranger. Some of his stuff is so damn complex people don't even realize it.

    By Blogger Grant Miller, at 10:22 AM  

  • There are a handful (ok, maybe more than a handful) of musicans and performances I wish I could have seen--the Velvet Underground w/ the Exploding Plastic Inevitable at the Dom; Albert Ayler and Jimi Hendrix any time; Sabicus; Ellington w/ Blanton and Webster; and of course James Brown in 1966. Nice.

    By Anonymous Jason Chervokas, at 1:34 PM  

  • Jump back....kiss mahself....Huuuh!
    My brother (a big fan who only referred to him as Soul Brother Number One) told me it was wonderful that his greatness was finally getting full recognition if only after death. I asked whether he meant all of the retrospectives on T.V. To which he barked, "Hell,no. Haven't you seen the flags at all the schools, the courthouse, the post office? ALL at half staff." Jump back...kiss mahself. Huuuh.

    By Blogger Hillbilly Dem, at 4:15 PM  

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