James Brown - The Payback
Format: 2 × 180 Grm Vinyl, LP, Album
Originally Released: 1973
Genre: Funk / Soul
Style: Soul, Funk
1. The Payback 7:39
2. Doing the Best I Can 7:39
3. Take Some...Leave Some 8:20
4. Shoot Your Shot 8:19
5. Forever Suffering 5:39
6. Time Is Running Out Fast 12:58
7. Stone to the Bone 10:14
8. Mind Power 12:04
Personnel: James Brown (vocals, electric piano); Jimmy Nolen, Hearlon Martin (guitar); Maceo Parker (flute, alto saxophone); St. Clair Pinckney (tenor saxophone); Darryl "Hasaan" Jamison, Isiah "Ike" Oakley, Jerone "Jasaan" Sanford (trumpet); Fred Wesley (trombone); Fred Thomas, Charles Sherrell (bass); John "Jabo" Starks (drums); Johnny Griggs, John Morgan (percussion). Recorded at International Recording, Augusta, Georgia.
In 1973, Brown was hospitalized for exhaustion. Mere days after his release from the hospital, his oldest son was killed in a car accident. A few months later, he'd completed the sessions for THE PAYBACK. There are echoes of Brown's anger and suffering throughout the album. The title song, with its drop-dead funky bassline, is full of vitriol, as Brown cries out for revenge and compensation.
"Doing the Best I Can" is an attractive soul ballad in which Brown sings of maintaining one's balance against adverse circumstances, despite "wondering which way to turn." Though the grooves are propulsive, this is a relatively low-key effort for Brown, filled with a subtly masked darkness. On the harrowing, bluesy "Forever Suffering," Brown sings of separation and loneliness, asking how long the suffering will continue. As the tune progresses, he sings with unsettling detail of the lengths to which his pain drives him. After repeated vows to beat his head against the wall, it becomes clear that the emotions being expressed here, and on the rest of THE PAYBACK, are very real. Fortunately, an artist of Brown's caliber is capable of channeling these feelings into great art.
Originally released in 1973 as a sprawling two-LP set, The Payback was one of James Brown's most ambitious albums of the 1970's, and also one of his best, with Brown and his band (which in 1974 still included Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pinckney, Jimmy Nolen and Jabo Starks) relentlessly exploring the outer possibilities of the James Brown groove. Stretching eight cuts out over the space of nearly 73 minutes, The Payback is long on extended rhythmic jamming, and by this time Brown and his band had become such a potent and nearly telepathic combination that the musicians were able pull out lengthy solos while still maintaining some of the most hypnotic funk to be found anywhere, and on the album's best songs -- the jazzy "Time Is Running Out Fast", the relentless "Shoot Your Shot", the tight-wound "Mind Power", and the bitter revenge fantasy of the title cut -- the tough, sinuous rhythms and the precise interplay between the players is nothing short of a wonder to behold.
And even the album's lower-key cuts (such as the lovelorn "Doing The Best That I Can" and "Forever Suffering") sink their hooks into the listener and pull you in; quite simply, this is remarkable stuff, and even Brown's attempts at lyrical relevance (which were frankly getting a bit shaky at this point in his career) are firmly rooted enough to sound convincing.
The Payback turned out to be one of James Brown's last inarguably great albums before he hit a long fallow streak in the mid-to-late 70's, but no one listening to this set would ever imagine that this was the work of an artist (or a band) about to run out of gas. Biography by Richie Unterberger "Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown has earned them more than any other performer. Other singers were more popular, others were equally skilled, but few other African-American musicians have been so influential on the course of popular music. And no other musician, pop or otherwise, put on a more exciting, exhilarating stage show; Brown's performances were marvels of athletic stamina and split-second timing.
Through the gospel-impassioned fury of his vocals and the complex polyrhythms of his beats, Brown was a crucial midwife in not just one, but two revolutions in American black music. He was one of the figures most responsible for turning R&B into soul; he was, most would agree, the figure most responsible for turning soul music into the funk of the late '60s and early '70s. Since the mid-'70s, he's done little more than tread water artistically; his financial and drug problems eventually got him a controversial prison sentence. Yet in a sense his music is now more influential than ever, as his voice and rhythms were sampled on innumerable rap and hip-hop recordings, and critics have belatedly hailed his innovations as among the most important in all of rock or soul.
Brown's rags-to-riches-to-rags story has heroic and tragic dimensions of mythic resonance. Born into poverty in the South, he ran afoul of the law by the late '40s on an armed robbery conviction. With the help of singer Bobby Byrd's family, Brown gained parole, and started a gospel group with Byrd, changing their focus to R&B as the rock revolution gained steam. The Flames, as the Georgian group were known in the mid-'50s, were signed by Federal/King, and had a huge R&B hit right off the bat with the wrenching, churchy ballad "Please, Please, Please." By now the Flames had become James Brown & the Famous Flames, the charisma, energy, and talent of Brown making him the natural star attraction.
James Brown - Payback (Live in Soul Train)
JB is just the funkiest man and we should all appreciate what he did for groovy music.. for instance.. hip hop would not be without this man (like we know it today)!
James Brown - The Payback
James Brown - Shoot Your Shot
James Brown - Mind Power