James Brown‘s legacy has been getting all kinds of tellings as of late. First it got the biopic treatment from Tate Taylor in the Chadwick Boseman led Get On Up. Then within a few weeks of the announcement, it turned out another master of the screen was going to be lending his efforts to a proper narration of The Godfather’s tale, as Alex Gibney premiered his unfinished, untitled documentary at NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival to raving critics, funk fanboys and girls.
And while it certainly didn’t seem that anyone would be getting to lay their eyes on the project any time soon, quicker than JB could hit a split, HBO picked up the definitive chronicle of the legend’s life with the apt new title Mr. Dynamite. Gibney’s doc stitches a goldmine of rare archival footage together into the most compelling and enlightening piece on the pioneer yet, giving us the distinct honor of witnessing his greatness as he evolved from unsung funk hero to the highest paid performer in the business. Back when I had the opportunity to see the film at its premiere, it only covered about half of his recording career, halting the story around 1975, which to some historians marks the beginning of the end for JB. Let’s hope the treatment got a second part or at least an extra hour to cover those last 30 years of his embattled life. All will be revealed when the doc airs October 27th at 9PM on HBO. Stay tuned for more on Mr. Dynamite in the weeks and months to come. Satiate your hunger for the funk with a rare clip of The JBs doing it to it in ’67 at Paris’ Olympia Theater.