Super Bad

James Brown at B.B. Kings in New York on Friday night. Big semi-crazed shows, what they used to call revues, like the one Brown brought to town are fast becoming a lost art. The band featured three horns, three drummers, four female backup singers called Bittersweet (two black, two white) and four guitar players all of whom were killer and all of whom played in widely diverse styles.

In the center of this mayhem was the man himself aged 73. As the towels he had for sale upstairs put it, "the man who put the wet in sweat." Wearing a red suit with red lame accents and lots of underarm fringe to shake, the hardest workin' man in show biz, who still has one hell of a head of hair, played MC and directed the proceedings.

People who complain that he’s cruising, i.e. not singing, not really doing much of anything when he’s onstage these days, are right. He’s not. After singing the first line of "It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World," twice, he drifted off and let his herd of instrumentalists take over.

But then it's James Brown: he's got nothing to prove and a little of him is better than most everyone else's everything.

"Seems to me that everyone needs to learn to start playing again," he said at one point, apropos of nothing. "You need to leave those computers alone and get some energy." Then he gave us just a taste of his trademark shuffle and slide move.

He feeeelt good.

Donald N.'s picture

James Brown is definitely one of the greatest in soul music!