Wednesday, December 10, 2008

James Brown saves Boston

At first glance, I wasn't sure how Jim Sullivan was going to stretch one James Brown concert into an entire book. Mix in MLK's assassination, Boston Politics, and the hardest working man in show business and it wasn't that hard.
This is a great book that uses one moment in time to illustrate a bunch of aspects of history, music, politics, and economics. It is hard to understand how much was changing in America in 68. America was a powder keg ready to blow and it took the hard work of a lot of people to hold it together. This is a nice study of one such moment and one group of people centered around the King, James Brown.
And for Mass/Boston locals with an eye on politics, witness names like Chuck Turner and Barney Frank turning up in this story in the early days of their careers. Small world.
Even JB's music was in a time of transition. Going for the horn section propelled, "I got you" to the more bass and drum driven stuff of "say it loud" or "licking stick". He was making it crazier every time out with every instrument contributing to the precussive affect.
The book wraps up focusing on James's struggles in the 70s/80s. The stuggles of JB to succeed as a man while all his actions are weighed, measured , and critiqued by a peanut gallery both black and white was a burden worhty of Atlas , but unlike Atlas James never shrugged.
This is a good read that straddles the successfully combines some biogrpahy and some history.
"Don't Burn, Learn!"

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