YouTube Live: James Brown in Paris ’66

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, it seems I heard “they sure don’t make em’ like they used to” or “back in my day…” when referring to everything from cars to TVs — not to mention the comments from burned out hippies and old fogeys about how “music just isn’t the same today as it used to be.” I have to admit, I always dismissed those statements without giving them much thought. That was until I saw Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen’s documentary, Before The Music Dies.

In just 95 minutes, I flashed back to all the times I heard those phrases and it all sunk in. It’s true, back in the sixties, there was a mystique to music — it was fresh and new. In today’s scene, I find myself thinking “I’ve seen that before” or “Oh, they sound like ___.” There’s no soul left! I’m not talking about the kind of soul that determines what kind of person you are, I’m talking about the kind of soul that sets the Apollo on fire with The Famous Flames and tears the roof off the Olympia Theater in Paris, France. I’m talking about the none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. In my opinion, there’s not a single entertainer that comes close. Well, Michael Jackson came close but he decided to throw it out the window.

Of course I’ve heard all the James Brown classics, I mean what would a dance party be without some “I Got You” or “Sex Machine”? And, I’ve definitely seen the Wayne Brady skits which are pretty entertaining but I had never seen a video of the King of Funk performing live. Enter YouTube. A quick search for James Brown and you’ll find a hilarious interview of Brown after he was “released on love” rather than bail. Gather yourself and you’ll find a slew of other live performances, the most impressive being at the Olympia back in 1966.

The clip clocks in at just under 9 minutes long and is only a tiny dose of a James Brown concert. Brown literally glistens as he glides around the stage and neither he nor the Famous Flames stop moving the entire time. There was no elaborate stage setup, no psychedelic stage lighting, just some backup dancers, a full band (including a brass section), and the pure 100% soul that is Mr. Dynamite.

Enjoy what once was.


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