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James Brown at Wembley Arena: Back And Proud

Simon Witter, New Musical Express, 26 April 1986

IT'S A tribute to the unbelievable power of James Brown's music that it has always managed to overwhelm our reservations about this dodgiest of superstars. No one could get away with his unforgivable treatment of musicians, his reactionary politics, or his monstrous self-importance...but when James Brown gets on the good foot, there's nobody on this planet that can touch him. The beautiful irony of last year's shows was that saxman Maceo had returned – after 15 years of success without JB – to help the 'dispensable' band steal the King's fire. This year the balance was back. Gone were the showmanship and erratic pacing of last year, the costume changes, semi-successful dancing, endless ballads and ruinously accelerated hits. What we got was James Brown, rooted centrestage in a modest black bullfighter suit, singing the shit out of the most furiously funky show to hit London this decade.

Total word count of piece: 543