“Get Up Offa That Thing” by James Brown (1976)/”Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” by James Brown (1970)

James Brown had a way of making magic with just a slogan. That was at least partially due to the ability of his various bands to lock into a stone groove (and speaks highly to JB’s considerable skills as a bandleader). “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” is sort of a political call to arms (and sometimes, all you need is a slogan for that), but it’s also a showcase for Bobby Byrd (on background grunts) and new recruit Catfish Collins (brother of Bootsy), whose distinctive “chicken scratch” guitar propels the song into the stratosphere. When the rest of the band drops out, and you’re left with that guitar and the drums, it’s a definitive dance music moment.

“Get Up Offa That Thing” is a more conventional-sounding jam, but by 1976 the rest of music had kinda caught up with The Godfather. James’ sloganeering isn’t political in nature this time around; he just wants you to stop being a stiff and dance. It’s a sentiment shared by many of the songs that appear right before these on my list; from Kool & The Gang’s “Get Down On It” (“get your back off the wall), to Michael Jackson (JB’s musical son)’s “Get On The Floor”. Throw these three songs on back to back at a party, and if the message isn’t received, kick your lame ass guests out!

Interesting note: both “Get…” songs peaked at Number Four on Billboard‘s Soul Singles chart.

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