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  1. #1

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    These 3 mid-'60s singles are worth considering together because they are pretty much the same tune: "Out of Sight," "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", and "I Got You (I Feel Good)". Brown's music was moving away from the 12/8 gospel grooves that had been a big part of his act for a long time (check out "I Don't Mind" from the Live at the Apollo album). The blues had always been part of James Brown's sound but here he is adding elements that will define his music for a long time to come.

    "Out of Sight" has Melvin Parker on drums. That cross-stick you hear would remain part of the James Brown sound long after Melvin left the band. James had wanted Melvin in his band for a while but Melvin put him off to finish college. When James came knocking at a more opportune time, Melvin said he would join the band on one condition: James would have to take his brother Maceo, a baritone sax player. Maceo wound up staying with James for a long time and was a featured soloist. (He switched to tenor.) Les Buie plays the guitar. The turnaround as instrumental hook would become a feature of many James Brown records, most famously on "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag." But first, "Out of Sight."


    "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" introduces Jimmy Nolen, perhaps the most well known (and widely admired) guitarist to have played with James Brown.
    Melvin Parker is on the drums here too. He's doing pretty much the same thing though he switches from the ride cymbal to the hi-hat here. He was a much more groove-oriented drummer than his predecessors.
    Sam Thomas is the bassist on both of these tracks.
    That un-muted E9 strum in the turnaround came to be known as "chicken grease." (I don't know why but that's what it's called and it's a very important technique.)



    "I Got You (I Feel Good)" is the most famous of all three of these singles. One might say it is the culmination of the work begun with "Out of Sight."
    Melvin Parker on drums again. He was about the be drafted (this was 1965). What an exit!
    David "Hooks" Williams plays the bass. He wasn't with JB for long. If you're doing a short-stint, there are worse fates than playing on an iconic record.
    Jimmy Nolen on guitar again. Instead of a rhythm guitar turnaround as on "Out of Sight" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", we have an arpeggio here.

    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 06-28-2021 at 11:23 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Mark,
    I have to tell you an interesting story. A few years ago my wife and I were walking from the air terminal on Andrews Air Force Base to the base hotel. A guy stopped and offered us a ride. We got to talking and I told him we lived in Spain. He said his brother has a band and plays a lot in Spain and other European countries.

    I asked what his brother's name was. He said, "Maceo Parker." I almost fell out of my seat. I said, "THE Maceo Parker who played with James Brown?" He said, "Yeah. I'm his brother Melvin." He never mentioned that he also played with James Brown. When we got back to the hotel I googled Melvin Parker and found the story you related. I'm still trying to figure out what he was doing on Andrews Airforce base. Did he stay in the military and retire? What a friendly, humble guy.

  4. #3

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    Hi, M,
    I was fortunate to see JB perform live three times before his death. He was the Godfather of Soul and THE BEST ENTERTAINER I've ever seen. RIP, Brother James!
    Play live . . . Marinero

    Here's the first JB tune I played on sax after its release in 1965 in my high school working Soul band--"The Pharoah's".


  5. #4

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    Sorry, M,
    Now you got me going. Here's a great JB medley. And, for the players among us, try to cut that syncopation on guitar in the first tune--"I Got the Feeling." Gotta have Soul . . . and be Super Bad!
    Play live . . . Marinero


  6. #5

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    James had the tightest band..it would make a metronome blush..

    anyone wanting to get their rhythm chops to another level..try playing the guitar parts on any JB tune

    back when...hanging out in a coffee shop with some guitarists..a studio player and a young kid in a rock band..
    James Brown's name came up ..the kid says"...that stuff is easy to play..its just.. what..E9 riffs.."
    the studio player and I just looked at each other...I said to the kid.."..did you hear what I just said..??"
    the kid looked puzzled..and says.."I didn't hear you say anything.." I looked at the studio guy and said.."see..he has a hearing problem.."

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue
    Mark,
    I have to tell you an interesting story. A few years ago my wife and I were walking from the air terminal on Andrews Air Force Base to the base hotel. A guy stopped and offered us a ride. We got to talking and I told him we lived in Spain. He said his brother has a band and plays a lot in Spain and other European countries.

    I asked what his brother's name was. He said, "Maceo Parker." I almost fell out of my seat. I said, "THE Maceo Parker who played with James Brown?" He said, "Yeah. I'm his brother Melvin." He never mentioned that he also played with James Brown. When we got back to the hotel I googled Melvin Parker and found the story you related. I'm still trying to figure out what he was doing on Andrews Airforce base. Did he stay in the military and retire? What a friendly, humble guy.
    Wow, that's a fascinating story. I don't really know anything about Melvin other than that he played with JB and Maceo was his brother. So ironic that it was Melvin who got Maceo the JB gig, and that it lasted so long. (James Brown went through a lot of sidemen...)

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen
    James had the tightest band..it would make a metronome blush..

    anyone wanting to get their rhythm chops to another level..try playing the guitar parts on any JB tune
    That's what I'm doing now! I've been working on funk rhythm playing for a few months now and it's made a big difference in my playing. (It's also required me to fix some problems with my technique and that's a very good thing.)

    This is one of my favorite James Brown records, the 1960 version of "Think." If you looked at the parts written out, they don't seem difficult (and hitting Eb7 on the one of many measures in row is NOT hard) but getting them to groove and keeping the groove tight without becoming stiff is another thing altogether.


  9. #8

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    I've always thought that "Got the Feeling" was the blueprint for Tower of Power and every modern R&B band since, right up to Snarky Puppy and the current crop.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Wow, that's a fascinating story. I don't really know anything about Melvin other than that he played with JB and Maceo was his brother. So ironic that it was Melvin who got Maceo the JB gig, and that it lasted so long. (James Brown went through a lot of sidemen...)
    Hi, M,
    From everything I've heard in the past, James was very difficult to please and paid very poorly. And, mistakes were unacceptable. I once ran into an alto player at an audition who played for him and he told me "Never ask JB for a raise or he'll tell you to leave." He knew his name was good on your "resume"(which might be the only thing that got you a gig or into an audition) and they were a full-time working band. I've always wondered how Maceo lasted so long.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  11. #10

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    Early 70s was the peak, the monster groove here


  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    Hi, M,
    From everything I've heard in the past, James was very difficult to please and paid very poorly. And, mistakes were unacceptable. I once ran into an alto player at an audition who played for him and he told me "Never ask JB for a raise or he'll tell you to leave." He knew his name was good on your "resume"(which might be the only thing that got you a gig or into an audition) and they were a full-time working band. I've always wondered how Maceo lasted so long.
    Play live . . . Marinero
    I remember Bootsy Collins saying JB would fine band members if their creases weren't just right, or their shoes weren't shined just-so.
    It is true that JB's name on one's resume was a good thing-----which, ironically, may be why a lot of players left: they had his name on their resume and wanted to play for someone who paid better! He used to do around 300 gigs a year and traveling in the '60s wasn't as convenient as it is now. (Their tour buses had no beds, for example.) I'm sure it was a grind. Especially for the band---JB stayed in nice hotels and didn't ride on the tour bus.

    They also cut records fast. In "I Got You" there is a squeak in the kick drum pedal. There was no time to fix it. So it's on the record.