Release Date: Aug. 5
Director: David Leaf
Starring: James Brown, Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Martin Luther King Jr.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Important footage of a legendary event
It might seem like hyperbole that a man—let alone a musician—could spare a city from almost certain devastation and chaos, but that’s the premise of The Night James Brown Saved Boston, the centerpiece of the three-disc I Got the Feelin’: James Brown in the ’60s. Armed with archival footage and the recollections of Brown’s band members and luminaries ranging from Cornel West to Al Sharpton, documentarian David Leaf makes a comprehensive and compelling case that Brown’s performance on April 5, 1968—and Mayor Kevin White’s grudging decision to broadcast the show live on local television—kept Boston from joining the litany of American cities that were coming apart at the seams in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination. But the story is much more than a point-by-point account of that legendary event, as time is spent charting Brown’s rise from poverty to his unexpected ascendancy as a self-made spokesperson for African-American empowerment. And for those who desire more proof of Brown’s mesmerizing charisma as a performer, the uncut broadcast of the Boston performance, a recording of a 1968 show at The Apollo, and a handful of television appearances will eradicate any doubts.