Most Wanted! James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing / Release The Pressure (Polydor)
‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ saw the light as a two-part single along. With ‘Release The Pressure’ appearing as its B-side on its 7 inch release. It came up back in 1976, most likely as an answer to the ongoing sophistication of the recording processes. And got eventually recorded in just 2 takes. Something quite usual from James Brown though, on his will to give a live feel to his music.
‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ found its inspiration during a club performance in Fort Lauderdale, FL. With Brown finding himself in front of an apparently depressed crowd and eventually becoming morose too before yelling the followin’ words… “Get up offa that thing. And dance ’til you feel better!” Eventually scoring his biggest success of the late 70’s in the charts…
A native of Barnwell, SC, James Brown saw the light in a poor environment. Born to a mom who was 16 and a dad who was 6 years older. Then finally raised by one of his aunts after the separation of his parents. Brown also happened to spend some time in a remained home. Eventually makin’ an income from shining shoes at the time. He then formed a Gospel group – The 3 Swanees – along with Bobby Byrd and Johnny Terry in the early 50’s. Relocating to Macon, GA, Little Richard‘s hometown, they hooked up with his former manager, Clint Brantley. And by 1956, they recorded a demo of ‘Please Please Me’. Eventually impressing Ralph Bass who got them signing a record deal with Cincinnati-based label King Records.
Strangely enough, the 10 following records they did for the label didn’t make it, which got them next to be dropped. But the release of ‘Try Me’ changed the fortunes back in 1958. And by 1960, James Brown‘s band – The Flames – had expanded to a 20-piece combo. With the man’s stage presence standing as the most energetic anyone had seen. Then his 1962 live shows recorded at the Apollo Theatre in NYC establishing across the country. Meanwhile paving his way with gems such as ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’ and ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’. Then eventually getting him to be voted America’s #1 R&B singer the year after…
Brown was constantly reiventing himself. With props due to his musicians, beginning with Pee Wee Ellis who managed to be able to turn his countless ideas into music. This being how Brown and Co. happened to release the first ever Funk tune by the likes of ‘Cold Sweat’ back in 1967. He then recorded ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud’ as a response to the American street riots in 1968. Eventually finding himself in the position of a (political) Black leader after the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr..
By 1970, James Brown came up with the influential ‘Funky Drummer’. A track which happened to be the most sampled beat in Hip-Hop. Meanwhile an unequalled amount of staples got him to stand at the top. From ‘Sex Machine’ to ‘Get On The Good Foot’ and ‘Funky President’. But also ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ and ‘It’s Too Funky In Here’.
Brown most likely evolved with his time. The 80’s seeing him eventually joinin’ forces with Hip-Hop icon Afrika Bambaataa on ‘Unity’. But also scoring one of his biggest successes ever with ‘Living In America’, from the ‘Rocky IV’ OST. His final Pop Top 10 hit with production work courtesy of the late Dan Hartman. He also happened to flirt with New Jack Swing vibes on the Full Force produced album ‘I’m Real’ back in 1988. Then with Brit-Soul with Soul II Soul‘s Jazzie B producing his ‘Universal James’ album, featuring the sadly underrated ‘Show Me Your Friends’ in 1992.
James Brown pretty much remained active until his death in 2006 even though he progressively lost the aura along with time.
He sadly died on Dec. 25, 2006, in Atlanta’s Emory Crawford Long Memorial Hospital from congestive heart failure, resulting from complications of pneumonia. He was 73.