James Brown

Soul Jubilee [DVD]

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James Brown was past his creative and performing prime at time of the 1984 Atlanta performance from which this hour-long DVD is drawn. Nor is the camera work or sound quality top of the line, though it's okay. Nonetheless, it's not a bad document of the soul great in concert, even if it doesn't hold a candle to the electrifying footage that survives from the '60s and early '70s. He's still in pretty good voice, and offers a solid program that covers some funk classics ("Super Bad," "Get on the Good Foot," "Cold Sweat"), big mid-'60s soul hits ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Feel Good," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"), and nods to his R&B ballad roots ("Try Me," "Prisoner of Love," "Please, Please, Please"). There's disappointingly little of his famed acrobatic antics, however, which one might put down to his more advanced age, except that he briefly launches into some quite impressive splits and dances near the end of the DVD that prove he still had some pretty good moves. The sound balance is erratic, unfortunately; the horns don't always come through well, and in fact on "Try Me," they're almost absent, the gospel-like organ overwhelming the other instrumentation. As for other points of interest, Brown sports two typically loud stage outfits (one a glow-in-the-dark-strength orange jump suit), and goes into a rap tribute to dead heroes at a couple of points that not only includes expected figures like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, but also more surprising ones like Bing Crosby and Jim Reeves.