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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Soul > James Brown – Live At Montreux 1981 (DVD/CD)

James Brown – Live At Montreux 1981 (DVD/CD)


Picture: C     Sound: B-/B     Extras: D     Concert: B



After one of the greatest runs in music history, James Brown has survived the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, Racism, The Beatles, TV and all kinds of other changes and competition, but he had not weathered the Disco era as well as the previous challenges.  It was 1981, but he had not had a major hit since the mid-1970s.  His previous sales and charting made him the #1 R&B act ever, not easy considering the greats like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and other innovators too numerous to note here.


In 1973, he did the music for the Blaxploitation classic Black Caesar and might have gone on to do more film music if there had not been conflict between him and the producing studio over the sequel, his finished music would have been in that film too.  Instead, it became his studio album The Payback, a peak work that remains sampled often and a late classic.  With Disco at its end and an appearance in the huge hit film The Blues Brothers, Brown was still in great form and Eagle Eye’s James Brown – Live At Montreux 1981 DVD/CD set shows “the hardest working man in show business” was far from finished.


The set only lasts 71 minutes, but is a strong one and features the following tracks:


1)     Payback

2)     It’s Too Funky Around Here

3)     Gonna Have A Funky Good Time

4)     Try Me

5)     Get On The Good Foot

6)     Its’ A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

7)     Prisoner Of Love

8)     I Got The Feelin’

9)     Hustle (Dead On It)

10)  Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

11)  I Got You (I Feel Good)

12)  Please, Please, Please

13)  Jam

14)  Sex Machine



The CD is only four tracks short of the DVD, but either way, the man had not sold out to any other genre and why go Disco when it was finished?  Despite his unfortunate personal problems, the talent was always there and he was a more vital and viable music force than he is often (amazing as that is) given credit for.  In five years, he would find himself triumphant on the charts again with his movie soundtrack (the Cold War camp of Rocky IV) hit Living In America in 1986.  It was his first major Top Ten or Top Five hit since 1968.  Even if he has not followed up since, fans never stopped loving Brown and his work.  James Brown – Live At Montreux 1981 is a testament to his greatness in action.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on NTSC analog video, though I wondered why none of it was PAL or SECAM, unless there is some down-conversion I am unaware of.  The sound is here in PCM 16bit/48kHz 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1, which makes me wonder if this is among the only times Brown has ever been available in any type of multi-channel playback.  Yes, there are the 24K Gold CDs, endless CD box sets and pricey vinyl reissues, but no SACDs, DVD-Audios have been issued.  Some other DVD-Videos, even with DTS, are out there, but we wonder if they are this good.  There are no extras except an illustrated paper pullout with good text on Brown, but nothing more.  This is one of the better installments in Eagle’s long-running Montreux series to date.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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