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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