This week marks a few important dates that are associated with James Brown. Wednesday marked the day that he would have been 84 years old. This coming Sunday marks the 26th anniversary of the release of Star Time, which gives as good an overview of Brown’s career in music as any anthology ever released. From the release of that anthology came many others in smaller sets, putting the different eras of Brown’s career into focus.
Today’s song was released on my fifth birthday back in 1971. It was one of seventeen #1 hits Brown amassed on the R&B charts. It was part of a year that saw Brown put seven released singles on the R&B chart, and all of them made the top twenty; only one missed the top ten. Today’s song was also cited by none other than Prince as his favorite James Brown track.
That song is “Hot Pants.”
Brown’s entry in the edition of Joel Whitburn’s Hot R &B Songs 1942-2010 takes up roughly two whole pages. There are one hundred and ten entries, running from “Please Please Please” in 1956 (his first top ten R&B hit) to a re-issue of his 1968 Christmas song “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto” which charted in 1998. In between, there are tons of hits; the building blocks of what we know as funk, and the cornerstones of hip-hop samples.
As for another anniversary, “Hot Pants” was recorded on May 13, 1971, meaning its forty-sixth anniversary of creation will be coming up soon. This was the first single released since the Collins brothers—William aka “Bootsy” and Phelps aka “Catfish”—left Brown’s band. Fred Wesley was leading the band at that time, and the trombonist received a writer’s credit for this song. James does what he does with songs like this; he shouts, screams, wails, and implores the band to keep right on cooking with him. It was from an era where it seemed Brown changed the vocabulary of funk from single to single, and moved from strength to strength. New band? No problem.
I hope you enjoy this full-length version of “Hot Pants,” and as always, thanks for reading and listening.
P.S. This will be my last post for a while; I’m leaving later tonight for San Antonio, Texas for a couple days of fun with the Teacher, and then a software company conference for my day job. I’ll return home on Wednesday, but there probably won’t be anything posted here until next Friday at the earliest. I will try to read as many blogs as I can and may even comment on a few posts, but I won’t have anything posted here. I just want to say thanks to those of you who take the time to stop by, read and comment on my posts.