REVIEW: Get On Up Is a Loud, Proud and Oscar-Worthy James Brown Biopic

TIME

Even by the standards of early rock ‘n’ roll songs, the 1956 “Please, Please, Please” is primitive, in fact primal. It’s the “Hare Krishna” of sexual desperation: one word is repeated a couple dozen times in a lover’s mantra, prayer or threat, as crooned by the vocal group, The Famous Flames, and howled by their lead singer. In the biopic Get On Up, a record-label executive listens to the number and dismisses it. Where are the verse and chorus, where’s the play of words? And Brown’s manager keeps repeating, “It’s not the song.” Exactly right. It’s the singer — the pleader, the testifier — James Brown.

The singer and the showmanship. On stage more than on records, Brown turned “Please, Please, Please” into fervent melodrama with a comic undercoating. The first record and first R&B hit for Brown and the Flames, the song always came at their end of…

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