James Brown Live in Paris


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James Brown — Singer

Program notes

It was in 1981 when the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, made his great comeback on the international stage. In the two preceding decades, he had completely redrawn the landscape of American music, helping to turn soul into a worldwide phenomenon before shifting its momentum towards funk with just a few tweaks on the rhythm. He was an artist of urgency speaking to a contemporary audience at a time of rapid change and fluctuating tensions. Yet, the late 70s saw a commercial decline in his style of funk, with key sidemen Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and more leaving him to join the more successful Parliament-Funkadelic collective. Brown was still an icon, but he struggled to achieve the same mainstream pull as before. 

Yet, upon leaving Polydor and forming a new band, the 80s saw his return to prominence. With film roles and chart success, he was able to, once again, steer himself into relevance. Here, in Paris, he occupies the stage like a man who always deserved his place there. "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" hark back to his heyday in the mid-60s whereas "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" recalls his days alongside Fred Wesley and the notorious Original JBs. The track "Rapp Payback (Where Iz Moses)" was released just a year before, and demonstrates his rejuvenated funk, containing elements of jazz-fusion as well as early rock 'n' roll, especially in the lyrics ("roll over Beethoven"). 

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Thursday, February 29, 2024