James Brown – The Payback

paybackNormally, when the tape was rolling, J.B. and the J.B.s were “on.” They worked hard. They gave us funk as we know it: a hot groove with lean but precise arrangements and a colloquial call-and-response on top. His greatest songs were jams. Albums were afterthoughts and ballads were dreck. The Payback is known as the best LP of his peak era, 1965-1975, but aside from three cuts (“Time Is Running Out Fast,” “Mind Power,” and the title track), nothing jumps out at you. Conceived as a soundtrack but rejected for “not being James Brown enough,” it’s got Shaft on the brain. It lopes and it lulls, and it feels a bit dull. Sex Machine is fiercer, Hell juicier. Still, with a band like this, you keep listening.

Rating: B

About Jack Cormack

Email Jack at jackyboy916@gmail.com.