Friday, April 26, 2013

The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

RJ Smith's The One: The Life and Music of James Brown  is a sensitive and comprehensive look at the complex life and career of one of popular music's most influential performers. The singer enjoyed great success during his life, sold millions of records and had a reputation as an amazing and moving performer. Beginning with Brown's early life, Smith shows the difficulties that led to the songer's troubled childhood and youthful incarceration. He also illustrates how Brown's will and forceful personality kept him focused on success even while often preventing him from enjoying it. The book moves beyond standard music biography when the author contextualizes Brown's dancing and emotionally intense stage shows in shamanic ritual and pentacostal religious experience. Peopled with characters as diverse as Bootsy Collins and Rev. Al Sharpton, he book is a fun, sad and ultimately insightful look at the vicissitudes of race and fame from the chitlin circuit to the world's greatest stages, and a close examination of one of the most troubled and celebratory figures in popular music. A first rate biography.

Recordings of interest:
40th Anniversary Collection     James Brown
CD of JB II: Cold Sweat and Other Soul Classics     James Brown
Live at the Apollo     James Brown
Say It Live and Loud: 8/26/1868     James Brown
In the Jungle Groove     James Brown
T.A.M.I. Show (DVD) various artists incl. James Brown

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