“Cold Sweat” by James Brown (1967)

“Cold Sweat” is widely regarded as one of the first songs, if not the first song, that could be truly described as funk. Me and my friend Shane were discussing funk over drinks last night, and the conversation turned to “Cold Sweat” (not least because I was struggling to find something to write about it other than “holy shit, it’s good.”)

JB certainly was no stranger to making funky music even before being considered a “funk artist”. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” are two prime examples that predated “Cold Sweat”. The thing that’s different, though, is that the older songs emphasize the lyrics, or at least the melody, as much as they do the groove. “Cold Sweat” has lyrics. It vaguely has a melody. There are no chord changes. Can you recite the words? Do they even matter? James’ voice doesn’t fill the traditional position of a singer/bandleader on “Cold Sweat”. It’s as much a percussion instrument as the drums.

Here’s some magic below…

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