Most helpful positive review
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
It hooked me - An Amazing Read
on August 28, 2005
What a life. What a personality. I have enjoyed this book enormously: You get the feeling that this is James Brown telling you his extraordinary story in a long and fascinating conversation. He talks about his music, his personal life and troubles, his philosophy, and, what I think is most thrilling, show business and stage performance.
My main goal in reading this book was resolving a personal doubt: Was he the genius behind his records, or was it Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley or his producers? After reading the book and listening to his records with lots of new insights, I have little doubt that the main driving force (although not the only one) in his records was himself. What Brown says about his music, where it came from, how it was made, what he intended to say, really made me discover many things in his records! For instance, if you have 'Live At The Apollo (1963)' (one of Brown's best albums) or have listened to it, DON'T MISS what he has to say about it -and play the LP again. I couldn't stop laughing for almost a quarter of an hour.
On another hand, I was also wondering: Is he a ruthless, egotistic and authoritarian character, as he is sometimes portrayed? In the book, JB openly and candidly talks about the discipline in his band, prison, guns, Black Power, and politics; and, paradoxically, in the end I finished with the impression of having received a lesson in confidence in man, tolerance, faith and spirituality. Soulful singers like him or BB King really have something to say about life-not only in their records.
On a last note, I think the (co-)writer Bruce Tucker has structured the book very well, hooking you from the beginning until the last page. As usual, it is better to avoid beginning with the prefaces and forewords, and leave them for the end. Only a little information about musicians in the sessions would have been welcome -although it is true that it's not the scope of the book.
Definitely worth reading it if you are a James Brown fan, and also very commendable if you are interested in music in general.