It simply doesn’t get any better than James Brown in his prime, working a stage like nobody else can. This was part of a 1964 concert film called the T.A.M.I. Show, which featured Brown, along with The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and The Rolling Stones, in front of a rabid teen audience. However, James Brown completely overshadowed anything the other acts could muster up. Even The Rolling Stones, who had the unfortunate responsiblity of following Brown’s performance, were tame in comparison. The dance moves that James Brown did that night, starting when the song kicks into double-time at about the 2:15 mark, were so physically impressive, The Stones probably would have had to kill each other on stage to get the crowd riled back up after what they just witnessed. Watching his mesmerizing footwork is seeing an artform done to perfection – no different than watching Michael Jordan slam dunk, or Salvador Dali paint. I can’t back this up with any physical proof, but by the time the song was over, 70% of the girls in the audience were pregnant! If you ever wondered why James Brown was known as the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, and The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, well, the stunned look on the faces of the crowd at 2:58 says it all.
This clip from the 1970 Cincinatti Pop Festival is the only significant visual document of the Stooges original line-up, and the greatest rock performance ever recorded to video. I can’t think of another performance that was this far ahead of its time. What was the audience thinking as they witnessed this? After all, it’s just one year after all the “peace and brotherhood” hippie nonsense of Woodstock; and here’s Iggy, shirtless, seemingly 90 lbs of lean muscle, wearing a dog collar, and snarling a pair of Stooge classics, “TV Eye” and “1970.” His peanut butter smearing act towards the end of this clip is infamous (really, why did someone bring a jar of peanut butter to a rock show?), but I’m more impressed with how Iggy pretty much invents stage diving and crowd surfing, pushing the physical elements of live performance further than anyone before him. I’m also impressed by how out of synch The Stooges are with those uptight TV announcers who covered the event. Those same announcers make a huge error by sending the show to a commercial break when Iggy jumps into the crowd, although to be fair nobody had ever seen a performer do that before, so they couldn’t have known how to react.
Sit back and be awed….
I love the all the contradictions in this 1974 clip. Here you have the heaviest band of their time, doing arguably their heaviest song at that point. Yet they’re playing it in broad daylight in front of a decidedly unheavy rainbow and palm tree backdrop.
I don’t like to accuse people without any proof, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ozzy is probably stoned out his mind. How do I know? Well, for starters it’s Ozzy Osbourne in 1974. If you need more specific proof, I present the following: he intros a decidedly non-party song with “Cmon! Let’s Have a party!” He’s also wearing gigantic glitter boots, and feeling uninhibited enough to play some air-guitar.
On a completely unrelated note, it seems like the entire state of California was at this show. I’ve never seen an audience so big in my life. In fact, Wikipedia tells me that this show (the California Jam festival) set an attendance record with 250,000 paid admissions. Around the 2:10 mark the massive crowd’s chanting takes on an ominous Nuremberg Rally kind of vibe.
In 2011 it’s hard to believe The Strokes were once a young band full of fire, but it’s true. Really. Ask your parents. As this 2001 clip of “Take It Or Leave It” from Letterman attests to, they used to be an amazing live band. They’re hungry and passionate here, belting out one of their best songs from those young and innocent days. Plus it’s always nice to see a singer trip and fall on live tv, as Julian does at the 3:33 mark. Few bands have done as much to ruin themselves as The Strokes over the past five years, but for these three minutes and 50 seconds they live up to every ounce of hype being thrust upon them at the time.
Hey…what do music nerds like more than a Top Ten List? Nothing, that’s what. So I’m rolling out the first of (hopefully) many Top Ten Lists on this site – The Top Ten Live Clips. These are videos found on the internet of concert or television performances.
I didn’t want to just select my favorite bands playing my favorite songs, so instead I looked for performances that are visually electrifying, have some kind of greater cultural meaning, or are just plain bizarre.
So here’s #10 for ya, The Birthday Party performing “Junkyard”. Truth be told, I’m a huge Nick Cave fan, but his pre-1985 stuff is a little too chaotic for my sissy-ish tastes. That being said, this German TV performance of “Junkyard” by The Birthday Party is one of the most deranged ever caught on film. They look like the band you would see in the rock-club scene of a movie about a futuristic dystopian society. Nick Cave appears to have just woken up from the worst bender of his life, totally intent on getting the next one underway. The real star though is bassist Tracy Pew, with his ruffled pirate shirt, leather pants, cowboy hat, and rhythmically gyrating hips. Really, what’s with the hips? Is he trying to keep time? Trying to be funny? Trying to be sleazy? All of the above? Creepy, creepy stuff…enjoy!