Dominated by war, race riots and political assassinations, 1968 proved a tumultuous year in American history. While the US military waged a controversial war to stop the spread of communism in far-flung Vietnam, there was bloody fighting in the streets on Uncle Sam’s home soil as racial tension tore apart many of America’s inner cities. When the black Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr, was shot dead on 4 April 1968, riots erupted throughout urban America. James Brown was scheduled to perform in Boston the following day and, though the local authorities initially thought of cancelling the gig, they eventually let it go ahead, mainly because they thought Boston would be torched if they didn’t. As it happened, the concert was televised, largely to pacify the African-American populace.
The fascinating background story behind this is told in a superb documentary, The Night James Brown Saved Boston, which is the centrepiece of this 3- DVD box set. The original blackand- white broadcast of the gig – which shows JB taking charge and calming things down when the stage is invaded – is on the second disc, while colour footage of another sensational Brown gig from the same timeframe completes the box set. Funkin’ marvellous.