500 Greatest Songs of All Time
James Brown, 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag'
Released: July '66, King
13 weeks; No. 8
In mid-1965, Brown was locked in a contract struggle with King Records, but when he learned King was nearly bankrupt, he threw the label a bone: a song he'd recorded a few months earlier, yelling, "This is a hit!" as the tape rolled. Arguably the first funk record, it's driven by the empty space between beats as much as by Brown's bellow and guitarist Jimmy Nolen's ice-chipper scratch. In a stroke of postproduction genius (you can hear the original recording on the Grammy-winning Star Time box set), Brown sliced off the intro to have the song start with a face-smashing horn blast, and sped it up just enough so it sounded like an urgent bulletin from the future.
Appears on: 50th Anniversary Collection (UTV/Polydor)