CULTURE

You can’t stop an old master

Some of those old music masters never seem to stop, and they probably won’t until old age either incapacitates them or sends them to the other world. Now 73, James Brown, who is to perform two shows in Greece over the next few days, beginning with the Lycabettus Theater in Athens this Sunday and followed by the Gis Theater in Thessaloniki the following night (with no day off in between for the aging performer) hasn’t really stopped since getting started in the early 1950s, except for when he’s been forced to by the law. There have been a few well-publicized detrimental periods in the life of the «Godfather of Soul» or «Mr Dynamite,» just two of many titles bestowed upon the man who’s artistic career now spans five decades. One of the worst crises in his personal life arose in the late 80s, when his wife filed charges for assault and battery. Not long afterward, the artist was also involved in an interstate car chase with police after allegedly threatening people with a gun. Brown ended up behind bars but was paroled after serving two years of a six-year sentence. No major turmoil has since been reported in the life of Brown. And, amid the seemingly quieter life, there haven’t been any important album releases either from this contemporary music great. Which isn’t necessary anyway from an artist who has contributed volumes and volumes of material, some of it groundbreaking, to Afro-American music. The lasting effect of it all, and Brown’s legendary stage charisma, continue to make him a concert highlight, despite the questionability – these days – of the man’s once unrivaled showtime stamina. Brown has been credited as a key figure in turning R&B into soul. Brown’s early R&B style intensified by the 60s with the inclusion of more complex, Latin and jazz-influenced rhythms to his work. His «Live at the Apollo» album release of 1963 took Brown’s scintillating showmanship and sound beyond already-acquainted Afro-American circles and into the mainstream. He was also largely responsible for dropping soul into the early funk styles of the late 60s and early 70s. Since the mid-70s, however, Brown has done little more than tread water artistically, but Mr Dynamite’s music has remained greatly influential, as highlighted by the numerous samples of Brown’s voice and rhythms used by hip-hop acts.