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Image Entertainment presents
James Brown Live: At the House of Blues (1999)

"I'm not afraid of technology; technology is still catching up to me."
- James Brown, the Godfather of Soul

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 11, 2000

Stars: James Brown
Other Stars: Tomi Rae, Roosevelt Johnson, Candice Hurst
Director: Mike Hart and Gary Rosen

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:20m:20s
Release Date: August 29, 2000
UPC: 014381970821
Genre: r-b

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AA+A+ C+

DVD Review

When James Brown's classic Live at the Apollo album debuted nearly forty years ago, I wasn't old enough to be a fan; it wasn't until some twenty years later, when I was in college and heard my roommate's album did I get seriously hooked on the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, but Brown is still holding up pretty well. This live concert from the Las Vegas House of Blues is filled with one show-stopping number after another, with vibrant performances by both James Brown and his backup band. In addition, there are the sexy female vocalists and a number of dancers to keep your eyes happy as well as your ears.

The music is first class all the way; the sax section in particular does a great job throughout the hour-plus-long concert. Brown gratifies the crowd by doing a great many of his big numbers, such as Living in America, Try Me, and Sex Machine. While his voice isn't quite as phenomenal as it used to be, his performance is high energy throughout. There are a number of simply stunning instrumental solos from the band that will have you gasping with amazement. In one of them, Brown has a little fun, moving the microphone all around the stage, but the tenor sax player never misses a lick.

This disc will frequently be finding its way back into my player, which is one of the highest recommendations I can make. The only reason that the substance grade isn't an A+ is that I wish the concert were longer.

Track Listing:
Get Up Offa That Thing
Gonna Have a Funky Good Time
Living in America
Soul Power
Soul Man
I Got the Feeling
Hot Pants
Try Me
Prisoner of Love
Georgia on My Mind
If I Ruled the World
Why Don't You Do Right
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
Funk on a Roll
I Feel Good
Papa Don't Take No Mess
Please Please Please
Sex Machine

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This concert was conceived as a vehicle for using HDTV recording techniques. As might be imagined, the image is sparkling. Blacks are rich and solid and colors are eye-popping. The blue of Brown's costume is simply dazzling. What more can one say than that the image is truly incredible. No artifacting was visible and aliasing was minimal. One of the best transfers I've seen; the producers certainly succeeded in their goal of showing HDTV recording at its best.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 sound is powerful and rich, with a great deal of texture and a wide soundstage spread across the three front speakers. The surrounds a primarily echo and crowd noise, making you feel as if you're in the fourth row of the concert. Bass is thumping, saxes are piercing, and noise (other than crowd noise) is nonexistent. The mixing nicely separates the solos and the vocals out and lets them stand forward without interference from the backing instruments. Again, a superlative job.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Two numbers by opening act Tomi Rae
Extras Review: The only place this disc falls down is on extras. There is an eleven-minute interview with the producers, regarding how the project came about, with some poignant anecdotes about Brown in prison. There is also the option to play the opening act, two songs by Tomi Rae, before Brown's portion of the concert. She has a powerful snaky alto that wraps its way around I Still Care and Try in an alluring manner. I felt occasionally that she was trying too hard to imitate Janis Joplin's immortal version of Try without adding much of her own, but it's certainly an acceptable version.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Other than the slim extras, this is one outstanding disc. Anyone who likes R&B or soul should get this disc. Very highly recommended. I feel good!


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