Tuesday, January 02, 2007

JB at the Boston Garden, 1968

Out of the gazillion James Brown performances avail online right now, the 1968 Boston Garden performance stood out as a must-see once I had read the Fader's post about it. Quite briefly, the performance took place mere hours after Dr. Martin Luther King was shot, a period of time wherein tensions were undoubtedly peaked and individuals look to people like James Brown for direction. The show has been bootlegged from WGBH footage of same.

Will Welch describes one important moment of the show:

"In one harrowing shot, Fred Wesley’s trombone gleams in the lights behind a silhouette of a line of Boston police, who slowly begin to encroach upon the stage until Brown shoos them back as teens excitedly circle around him. At first he shakes hands, but then he tries to talk them down. “Let's represent our own selves!” he says. “You making me look bad. I asked the police to step back because I get respect from my own people. Are we together or are we ain't?” There is a cheer from the crowd that sounds like the responses from the call-and-response segments of Brown’s recordings, and almost immediately Brown turns to his band and snarls, “Hit this thing now!” as the kids jump offstage. He takes the band into “I Can’t Stand It”, skrawking into the mic and dancing, then the DVD abruptly cuts off mid-song."

I searched through YouTube and found only this, which I believe is from the same performance:

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