500 Greatest Songs of All Time

71

James Brown, 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag'

Writer: Brown
Producer: Brown
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) 

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