James Brown Brings Down the House at the Paris Olympia, 1971

Here’s an amazing film that captures the excitement and raw energy of James Brown in his prime.

The footage was taken on March 8, 1971, during a series of concerts Brown and his band gave at the Olympia theater in Paris. It offers a rare glimpse of the original lineup of the J.B.’s, the group Brown formed in 1970, about two years after the breakup of the Famous Flames.

The lineup includes William “Bootsy” Collins on bass and his older brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins on lead guitar, both of whom would leave the band a few months later. Famous Flames founder Bobby Byrd, who essentially discovered Brown in 1952, serves as organist, backup singer and master of ceremonies. The rest of the band are: Hearlon “Cheese” Martin on guitar, St. Clair Pinckney on tenor saxophone, Darryl “Hasaan” Jamison and Clayton “Chicken” Gunnells on trumpet, Fred Wesley on trombone, and John “Jabo” Starks and Don Juan “Tiger” Martin on drums.

The film was apparently shot during one performance, even though Brown is introduced twice and wears different clothing. According to reports, Brown took a break between “Sunny” and “It’s a New Day” while Byrd’s wife, Vicki Anderson, sang two songs that were cut from the film. Audio from the concert was released in 1992 as Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris 1971. Here’s the set list from the film version, which differs slightly from the LP:

  1. Introduction
  2. Brother Rapp
  3. Ain’t It Funky Now
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Sunny
  6. It’s a New Day
  7. Bewildered
  8. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
  9. Try Me
  10. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag/I Got You (I Feel Good)/I Got the Feelin’ (medley)
  11. Give It Up or Turn It a Loose
  12. It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World
  13. Please, Please, Please
  14. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (reprise)
  15. Super Bad
  16. Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
  17. Soul Power
  18. Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (finale)

h/t Ryan Jetten

Related content:

Classic Ray Charles Performance: ‘What’d I Say’ Live in Paris, 1968

The Queen of Soul Conquers Europe: Aretha Franklin in Amsterdam, 1968

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Comments (3)
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  • Xan Karn says:

    If you watch only the first 10 minutes, you’ll know that nothing like this ever passed through your life before. If you watch only 20 seconds (I suggest you start at 3:16), you’ll know that funk, soul, groove, and gospel were never concentrated at the same explosive levels in any other man or woman.

    Five minutes in, ask yourself: Am I watching a “music concert,” or is this a HEALING? Ask yourself: “Have I really got time for anything else but THIS today?”

  • Chris says:

    @Xan, Amen! This is ground zero for funk and might be his best live, hi-quality recordings (at least audio-wise). When will some enterprising multimedia engineer take the audio from the album and pair it up with the film footage (at least the songs that match up) and release it to the fans! I’d pay $50 for that anyday.

  • Michael says:

    The Love Power and Peace recording was from march 8th, while this film was made on a different night during the same run at L’Olympia. But the JBs were so disciplined and tight, that I’m sure it wouldn’t be too tough to match them together. I have seen short snippets of the film in much better image quality, so there is even better quality possible. All it needs is some enterprising person to gather the elements and put it all together. The film was a French production, while the LPP CD was recorded by an American crew.

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