Sunday, 4 October 2015

James Brown in Vietnam, 1968

Hey, it's off-topic Sunday! Remember, if you came to this site for motorbikes, you came to the right place. There are over 5000 posts on this blog, pick a subject from the labels list at the side and dive in. Or buy the magazine. Sometimes though, we want to talk about other things. This is one of those times...

I watched the James Brown biopic, Get On Up (co-produced by The Walking Dead's* Mick Jagger) on DVD. I really enjoyed it, but struggled catching some of the mumbled dialogue. It is obviously a dramatisation of a long and action-packed life (abandoned as a child, spousal abuse, laugh a minute), but I don't know how much it gilded the lily.

One great section is when James Brown (aka the Godfather of Soul, Mr Dynamite, Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk, The Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness, Mr Please Please Please, Soul Brother Number One) and his band are on a troop transporter plane to Vietnam to play to the US soldiers, in June 1968. Part of the dramatisation is clearly enhanced, but they really did perform in Vietnam, when it was the last place of earth anyone really wanted to be. These superb photos are from the performance, and I found them on the internet, so apologies to the photographers for not crediting.

Perhaps it's just me, but I've watched quite a lot of Vietnam movies over the years and I don't remember seeing any that show just how many black GIs were in action. Just look at the crowd here. Clearly if Johnny Cash was playing you might expect fewer black faces right at the front, but the US government didn't fly in a rent-a-crowd to make JB look good. Anyway, just a thought. G

* Sorry, I mean The Rolling Stones

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