Lost & Found: Watch James Brown Dazzle Italian TV With Killer ‘Sex Machine’ Performance
In 1971, James Brown was at the height of his cultural powers. He was a musical force, a political force and a loud, proud voice for black people during an era when civil-rights unrest was being carefully stepped over for broader and mass-targeted issues like Vietnam.
In 1971, James Brown was on top of the world.
And in this performance from the Italian TV show ‘Teatro 10,’ he delivers a positively killer rendition of his superfunky 1970 hit ‘Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine.’ The fact that it’s in black and white takes nothing away from its eternal power.
There are so many great things going on here that we can’t pick a favorite: Brown’s cutoff shirt and crotch-hugging pants; the backup dancer with go-go boots and giant hair; the vocal and dance showdown between Brown and right-hand man Bobby Byrd; Brown on keyboards(!); and, of course, Brown’s famous band, which is positively on fire throughout the five-and-a-half-minute performance.
Just look at those audience members — especially the dude with the awesome mustache sitting behind the host during the intro. And how about that intro? It’s a whole bunch of Italian words we can’t understand until he gets to the words “sex machine,” which doesn’t even cause a flinch from the unblinking woman over the host’s right shoulder.
We have no idea how she reacted to the rest of Brown’s performance, which burns with intensity from the very first note dropped by his band. Thankfully, the camera stays fixed on the stage throughout the five-plus-minute song. We understand why: It’s hard to turn away from what’s going on up there. Bravo!