Monday, June 25, 2007

Something odd from James Brown and Pavarotti

Yes, the Godfather of Soul performed onstage with Luciano Pavarotti (and string orchestra) on May 28, 2002. They sang “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

This took place in Pavarotti’s hometown of Modena, Italy, during one of his annual “Pavarotti & Friends” charity concerts.

Weird as this combination seems, it worked. Big time. J.B. was in great voice. And Pavarotti gave up the funk. (Well, not really... but he is a bad mutha.)

Lou Reed – another of Pavarotti’s unlikely singing partners in 2002 – told a British newspaper that the “Man’s World” performance was “amazing.” See for yourself, through the miracle of YouTube.

(This performance can be found as a bonus feature on the DVD of “James Brown: Soul Survivor,” a PBS “American Masters” special from 2003.)


bumpster said...

Pure Soul Brother #1.

Undercover Black Man said...

Late in life, he could still blow like that.

Couldn't do the splits no more, but he could still sang.

Rottin' in Denmark said...

I love that we're at the societal stage where the misogyny of this song just feels sorta quaint and grandpa-ish. Aaaaawww

Anyone know any other good versions of this? They were playing one on KCRW quite a bit a while back, with a female vocalist, but I don't remember the band...

Undercover Black Man said...

Glad you asked, Rottin’. Here is my favorite cover version of “It’s a Man’s World.” It’s sung by Lani Groves.

(I wanted to use this on a TV show so bad! I had a whole sequence in mind... a call girl waking up, getting out of bed, and getting herself ready for work. We don’t know she’s a call girl at first, just a regular young woman. But it dawns on us as she dresses, puts on makeup, etc. And no words are spoken; just this tune playing underneath... a good two minutes of it, while the pictures tell their story. Oh, I see this so clearly in my mind. Lani’s first a cappella “This is a man’s world” plays over a black screen, then the picture slams on, timed to the first downbeat from the band...)

Anyway, I’d bet a dollar this was the version you heard on KCRW. A woman singing this song brings out an exquisite tension in the lyric.

The track can be downloaded via eMusic and iTunes. It was on a 1992 CD, “Bringing It Home,” that Groves did with Darlene Love. (Some other nice covers on that disc, like “Let It Be” and “Use Me.”)

Rottin' in Denmark said...


Yeah, that is the one. You read my mind.

I found the (Pararotti-less) James Brown version on some Hype Machiney mp3-blog aggregator, too, and it's terrific.

If I was doing that same scene with the prostitute, I would put a Journey song under it and then cut to black right in the middle, just when it was getting interesting. Oh wait...