James Brown

Fever in the Funkhouse [DVD]

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The same March 8, 1971 performance that was issued as the 1992 CD Love Power Peace -- Live at the Olympia, Paris 1971 was also filmed in color. That footage occupies the bulk of this DVD, which also includes a little material not found on the corresponding CD. Although this is a dynamic Brown show that captures him and his band moving from soul-funk into more hardcore funk, it's a little disappointing to watch, for reasons that have more to do with the production of the film and disc than Brown. The color image is a little blurry, and the sound isn't as sharp or well-mixed as one would hope. It's hard to tell whether it's due to imperfections in the original filming or its transfer to this unauthorized DVD; most likely, it's a combination of the two. It's also true that the set flows in such a typical bang-bang song-to-song (sometimes mid-song-to-mid-song) fashion that it'll exhaust, even exasperate, less patient viewers. Still, for the serious Brown fans likely to search this out, it's a chance to see him singing, shouting, sweating, and moving well in concert, with a band including Bootsy Collins and Phelps Collins. It also includes a cover of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" that's not on the official CD of the event, as well as two songs by support soul singer Vicky Anderson that are so average that one suspects she was deliberately selected so as not to upstage the headliner. As a bonus, there's also a good (if slightly wavy) undated clip of James Brown performing circa 1968 on a Sammy Davis, Jr.-hosted TV show, even dueting with Davis on one of the songs, "There Was a Time."