Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Night Train: All Right, Outta Sight!

I just watched the new DVD release of the famed 1964 T.A.M.I. Show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. You know, the concert that Sting referred to in the 1980 Police song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”:

Turn on my VCR, same one I’ve had for years / James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show, same tape I’ve had for years …

Well, I hadn’t seen this particular performance before, but watching this old footage (newly restored for DVD) leaves little doubt about what an incendiary and trailblazing performer James Brown was in his prime. One thing is blatantly clear from this video: There would be no Michael Jackson without the Godfather of Soul … that’s for sure! The guy’s feet had a life of their own.

You have to love the showmanship. And posturing though it obviously was, it’s priceless when, having given it his all and verging on the edge of physical collapse, J.B. just can’t help but throw off the robe, push his handlers aside and return yet again to the mic to give us just a little bit more. Soul power, indeed. Awesome!

It’s hard to believe that this was only 1964, and that Elvis had caused such a stir only eight years before – for doing nothing like this!

Here are two brief YouTube excerpts, but check out the DVD to get the full impact of Brown’s high-octane performance, as well as other worthwhile ones by Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Supremes, and a very young Rolling Stones, among others.

Not nearly complete, but close enough to get the idea.


  1. JB had a complete command of his band back in the day. He would fine his band members for hitting sour notes, or missing an intro or stoppage in songs.

    I heard a live tape once where the guitar player clammed, and you could clearly hear JB say "Gottcha!".

    He was definitely the "hardest working man in show business".

    KB not JB

  2. Yes, before he became a fugitive crackhead, that is. As slick as he was in those days, I can't forget the mug shot pics of him in the ’90s looking like he was a bad imitation of Eddie Murphy's SNL take on Buckwheat.

    JB was great through the ’70s though. His Live in Paris 1971 LP (Lover, Power, Peace) was stunningly tight and funky, and one of my favorites.

    Thanks for commenting, Keith!

    - BL