James Brown Before, During & After The Revolution

Friday, 01 August 2014 06:32 AM Written by 

The Mick Jagger-produced James Brown biopic Get On Up starring Chadwick Bozeman hits theaters today. I haven't seen it, but the PG's Barb Vancheri offers one of her usual  incisive reviews today. What follows are a few supplemental points.

Brown's importance to American music is a given, the pivotal role he played had plenty to do with both Funk and Rap music. He's defined today by tunes like the hit single "Get On Up," "I Got You," "Sex Machine," "Cold Sweat" and so on.

Early: 1956

When Brown and his band (with Bobby Byrd) started out in 1956 with "Please, Please Please," it was a very different world. The funk would come later, enhanced by pivotal members of the Famous Flames such as guitarist Jimmy Nolen (creator of the "scratch" guitar style), bass player and future funkmaster Bootsy Collins and sax man Maceo Parker.

In those early days, Brown's his music still had elements of the 1940's "jump blues" of Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown were still present. The influence of fellow Maconite Little Richard was also present in these early records like this one: And I have to say it, like a lot of the other records made in King Records' Cincinnati studios, had the one of the fattest drum sounds I ever heard.

"No, No, No,  No"


"Chonnie-On-Chon" (1956) The Little Richard flavor (and the fat drums sound) is really obvious.

For those who aren't familiar, Federal was a spinoff label of King Records, the iconic Cincinnati indie label founded by Syd Nathan in 1943 to record "hillbilly" acts. After World War II King branched into blues and R&B in a big way.


What King Records owner Syd Nathan initially thought of "Please, Please Please," (depicted in the film) from interviews with JB and Bobby Byrd (and their bad selves)


The TAMI Show: 1964

Introduced by Jan & Dean, this is James and the Flames' actual presentation re-created (with a bit of license) in the movie.  Songs: "Out Of Sight," "Prisoner Of Love," (actually a 1930's pop song), "Please, Please Please" and "Night Train" (an R&B oldie adapted from a Duke Ellington instrumental).


After the Revolution: 1971

TV Concert Bologna, Italy. Bootsy Collins on bass and the ubiquitous Bobby Byrd. Work your way past the verbose commentator...


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