Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I-Dentify With Lee Austin and Future Shock!

Lee Austin - Missing You

I first heard of James Brown Revue member Leon "Lee" Austin via an episode of James Brown's obscure Future Shock TV show, where he appeared as the featured guest. In their pre-performance chat, JB and Lee discuss that this record was supposed to have a prior release but they decided to hold back on it because the time wasn't right, but now that President Carter was in office (and, by extension, the national mood had brightened), people were ready for a "heavy ballad" like today's selection.

"Missing You" was a 1975 or '76 I-Dentify release. I-Dentify was one of the lesser-utilized JB labels, having four or five single releases, the most notable being the instrumental "Picking Up The Pieces One By One" by A.A.B.B. ("Above Average Black Band"), a JB-produced takeoff on the Average White Band's smash hit "Pick Up The Pieces." Although in my opinion "Missing You" is mixed poorly, it's a pretty decent ballad with just a little bit of a beat to it, and Austin's country tenor is a good fit.

Post Script: Someone really needs to obtain the rights to JB's Future Shock shows and get them on DVD. I have two episodes I acquired from a private collector and they are really interesting. Future Shock was an Atlanta-based takeoff on Soul Train produced and hosted by Brown which aired on WTCG (the local precursor to cable superstation WTBS) and in about 40 Southern markets for about two years (approx. 1976-78). It's clearly a vanity project (95% of the show's playlists was tunes by James Brown, the J.B.'s or other JB-produced artists, who also appeared on the show as guest stars), and James demonstrates that being a TV host was not his strong suit: on the two episodes I have he interviews the director of the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskeegee Institute, and his remarks and questions are pretty off the wall. Despite Brown's shortcomings as an emcee, however, the shows are great to watch. Thanks to a YouTube user, here's a clip of a Future Shock open which starts with JB doing a bit of "Hot," his unapologetic ripoff of David Bowie's "Fame," followed by one of the show's infamous "dance contests":

Also, here's a great ad for the official Future Shock T-shirt!

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