It simply doesn’t get any better than this. 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, what James Brown did that night far overshadows anything the other acts could muster up. Even The Rolling Stones, who had the unfortunate responsiblity of following Brown’s performance, are 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 insane and 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 a performance more 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 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….