Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
# 11:20:00 PM:

Like a sex machine

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Since he died Christmas Day, I've been watching James Brown videos on YouTube. Some are pretty lame, as he parodies and recycles himself through the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. But from his heyday, peaking in the late '60s and well into the '70s, even in grainy black and white with lo-fi sound, they are incendiary.

Watch him direct his band—often including two drummers—with the flick of a wrist, or the crazed snap of his neck. Watch him drag a whitebread crowd (in France, I think) onto its feet dancing and transform his show. Take a look at the yards of tape keeping his microphone from flying off its stand during his wild dance moves. Listen to him drive his musicians deeper and deeper and deeper into the groove. As a musician, if I get could get a groove like that, like the one his band fired out on the Mike Douglas Show in the first video (no matter that it's mono), I'd be done.

And even though I've listened to his Star Time box set over and over and over and over since I bought it in 1992, I suspect I never will.


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