James Brown was an iconic larger than life individual, the Godfather of Soul, which meant that it was only him, Elvis and Michael Jackson who had their own iconic names in my life. Unless you counted Sir William of Idol which Billy had been christened by Smash Hits magazine. My first experiences of James Brown came from the Blues Brothers - a superb cult movie with a soundtrack that provided me with a love of stax soul music that endures to this day and probably more importantly from the cd that I had bought for me, James Brown's the best of. This was an important cd as, arriving in 1987 it was one of the very first I got to play on my lovely new cd player, (funded ironically by my Dad despite my telling him for at least 12 months that cd's were inferior to vinyl and I would never be getting a cd player, I have no idea why Dad succumbed to my wining to get one subsequently, I would have made have given him a load of grief. I think it arrived for doing my GCSE's but I'm not too sure).
It was interesting how I came to get James Brown's greatest hits, because I didn't have to buy it myself, Mom bought it under my direction, because......... I was poorly, and as it came out in 1987 I guess I was 15 at the time and stuck at home with a temperature feeling sick. This was a very rare occasion, I don't remember many instances of being at home being poorly, missing an early Rich Bennett birthday party, getting a day off school by spinning round and round in the hall until I felt sick, amazingly, one time when I received Muffit the Daggit from Battlestar Galactica and this instance. I probably was ill quite a lot as every child was on reflection, but those were memorable, as was the day I got The Best of James Brown. Actually it was quite amazing to be bought a cd, because they cost a fortune in 1987, at £13 which seemed to be the going rate they cost the same as a couple of lp's but a quarter of my season ticket down the blues and a lot more than toys, and Mom and Dad were sensible in lavishing gifts on us as money was quite scarce.
The disk was well spun, partly because it was one of the few I had but also because James Brown's tunes were very accessible to the young Neil whose music taste was quite limited - I feel good and sex machine were crackers to bounce around to as was Living in America - which was already a firm favourite as it featured on the Rocky 4 soundtrack. Now this was an iconic movie, and one I had bought the soundtrack of on lp. I went to see this at the odeon cinema in Sutton, without parents, which was great, and the cinema seemed to be filled with people from school. It was the scene of one of my coolest moments when I was sat some way back and launched (what was either a minstrel or a little round mint, the sort that you get from a curry house) a sweet forward in the daylight and it bounced with a satisfying 'thunk' off the head of one of the square boys from my class. It was a great bounce, no doubt embellished in my memory, but it bounced up in the air in my memory and the whole school saw and admired it, with me taking a bow. But in actual fact I was probably limited to accidentally hitting the lad, feeling embarrassed and sinking into my seat looking behind me to deflect the blame to the naughty kids at the back, but I like my memorys version better, as I was cool for a second.
With such a love of the record, it seems strange that when I went to V99 with Mrs P some years later, and the legendary James Brown was headlining the second stage I didn't push myself to the front. But I was caught in the grip of Britpop and the manics were on the main stage so I tried to do both, which meant loitering at the back of James Browns audience, which was massive unsurprisingly, waiting to hear a loved tune before heading to hear the manics singing a design for life. But this plan did not work, I didn't know that James Brown's show consisted of lots of acting and introductions before he took to the stage, so much that we got bored of the intros, and left, to see the Manics, who I can't remember anything about at all, and JB is now dead so I won't get to see him, Pish. I am sure he was ace eventually, the NME said so in ironic terms.
Amazing what memories the cd brings back. This was also in hind sight the first cd that I took full advantage of the skip function and program function to create ...... A playlist....... as songs, get up, papas got a brand new bag, gonna have a funky good time, gravity, America and i got you I feel good definitely got loads more spins that the others, but actually looking at the reverse of the CD, all of the tracks resonate really well, I may listen again in the way to the office now......