The Funkiest Songs From James Brown
James Brown live at the TAMI show - James Brown / Youtube
Funk legend James Brown is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul“, and for a good reason. During his career that spanned for over five decades, Brown has penned and produced some of the most prolific funk and soul tracks. Apart from that, Brown is up on the ranks as one of the most energetic live performers of all time, incorporating dance moves into his performances. Here are some of the funkiest tracks ever concocted by the man of funky groove!
“Please, Please, Please” – James Brown and The Famous Flames
One of the heavier songs on Brown’s catalog, the rhythm and blues ballad features his powerful vocals highlighting the slow cadence of the track’s arrangement, while backup vocals provide an accompanying melody to the main progression. With hints of funk on the brass sections, the track became one of James Brown’s most successful records.
“Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” – James Brown and the JB’s
Brown’s funk influence surfaces in this track, with vocal nuances and responses to his own parts, and that clean, pristine guitar riff driving over the playful bass line. The song is structured to groove along its length, with Brown and Byrd even singing the main hook of Elmore James’ “Shake Your Moneymaker” during the final lap of the track.
“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” – James Brown
“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” is James Brown’s first Grammy winner, and it isn’t hard to hear why. The classy implementation of his funky groove is evident on the track, with lyrics that talk about an old man’s new discovery of his interest in dancing. The brass heavy track features an occasional guitar lick that became a standard for succeeding funk rock artists, with special vocal nuances on every line, making Brown one of the most distinct funk artists of all time.
“Funky President (People It’s Bad) – James Brown
Brown says the track refers to US President Gerald Ford, and features one of the most prominent funk arrangements of all time. With the infectious combination of the sax, flute, and guitar licks, “Funky President” delivers an effective groove, only enhanced by the bass line’s energetic progression. The track is one of the most sampled materials used in modern hiphop tracks to date.
“Get Up Offa That Thing” – James Brown and the JB’s
James Brown’s last great release was “Get Up Offa That Thing”, inspired by a scene he witnessed during one of his performances. The audience was clearly stuck to their seats, instead of enjoying Brown’s performance, which prompted him to yell the song’s most recognizable line. The interesting clavinet parts give a certain tinge of sharpness to the track, while the sax, guitars and bass interweave melodies for that signature Brown funk sound that’s been known for years. Contrary to popular recording techniques of the decade, Brown finished the recording in two takes in a live session.