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Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine

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"Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" is a funk song recorded by James Brown with Bobby Byrd on backing vocals. Released as a two-part single in 1970, it was a no. 2 R&B hit and reached no. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

In 2004, "Sex Machine" was ranked number 326 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Analysis

Analysis[edit]Edit

"Sex Machine" was one of the first songs Brown recorded with his new band, The J.B.'s, and it plays to their distinctive strengths. In comparison with Brown's 1960s funk hits such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", the band's inexperienced horn section plays a relatively minor part. Instead, the song centers on the insistent riff played by brothers Bootsy and Catfish Collins on bass and guitar and Jabo Starks on drums, along with the call and response interplay between Brown and Byrd's vocals, which consist mostly of exhortations to "get up / stay on the scene / like a sex machine". It is harmonically static, aside from a move to the subdominant on the bridge.

The original single version of "Sex Machine" — recorded, like many of Brown's hits, in just two takes[2] — begins with a spoken dialogue between Brown and his band which was recreated with minor variations in live performances:

Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing! (Yeah! That's right! Do it!) I want to get into it, man, you know? (Go ahead! Yeah!) Like a, like a sex machine, man,(Yeah!) movin', doin' it, y'know? (Yeah!) Can I count it off? (Okay! Alright!) One, two, three, four!

Personnel[edit]Edit

  • James Brown – lead vocal, piano

with The JB's:

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1970) Peak

position

Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 4
Germany (Media Control AG)[5] 29
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[6] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 7
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 32
US BillboardBest Selling Soul Singles[9] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 15
US Cash Box[10] 17
US Cash Box R&B[citation needed] 1
US Record World[11] 17

Other recordings[edit]Edit

"Sex Machine Part I"
Single by James Brown
from the album Sex Machine Today
B-side "Sex Machine Part II"
Released 1975
Format 7"
Genre Funkdisco
Length 5:45(Part I)

5:09(Part II)

Label Polydor

14270

Writer(s) James Brown

Bobby Byrd Ron Lenhoff

Producer(s) James Brown
James Brown charting singles chronology
"Reality"

(1975)

"Sex Machine Part I"

(1975)

"Hustle!!! (Dead on It)"

(1975)

Brown made two other studio recordings of "Sex Machine" in addition to the original single version. One was made in 1970 for his ostensibly all-live Sex Machine album. It is over 10 minutes long and includes added reverb and overdubbed audience noise intended to conceal its studio origins. (A version of this recording without overdubs appears on the 1996 compilation Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang.) The other, which was released in 1975, features a new instrumental arrangement and lyrics aimed at disco audiences. Nearly 12 minutes long, it was released as a two-part single and appeared on the album Sex Machine Today. Though it was poorly reviewed —Robert Christgau wrote that "if you own another version of 'Sex Machine' you own a better one"[12] — it charted #16 R&B.

"Sex Machine" remained a staple of Brown's concert repertoire until the end of his career. Live performances of the song appear on the albums Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo, Vol. III (1971), Hot on the One (1980), Live in New York (1981), Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971 (1992), and Live at the Apollo 1995.

Chart (1975) Peak

position

US Billboard Hot 100[9] 61
US BillboardHot Soul Singles[9] 16
Chart (1985) Peak

position

UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 47
Chart (1986) Peak

position

Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 34
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 46
Chart (1991) Peak

position

UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[13] 69

Cover versions[edit]Edit

The Flying Lizards recorded a successful cover of "Sex Machine" in 1984 which appeared on their album Top Ten.

In 1986 the Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono and his band F.O.E. recorded vocal and instrumental cover versions of "Sex Machine" for the album F.O.E. #1: Sex, Energy and Star. The instrumental version featured a guest solo by Brown's longtime saxophonist Maceo Parker.[14]

Another 1986 cover was performed by Rap group The Fat Boys for the album Big & Beautiful.[15]

The Australian band New Waver recorded a parody of the song under the title "Gene Machine" for their 1994 album Aspects of Loserdom.

German comedian and jazz musician Helge Schneider recorded a comedic version of the song for his 1995 album Es rappelt im Karton. It was also released as a single with an accompanying video that features Schneider walking around a metro station making faces.

R&B singer Mya recorded the single for the 2001 Legally Blonde soundtrack.

The rock band Widespread Panic covered the song on their 2004 live album Jackassolantern.

Sampling[edit]Edit

La Toya Jackson's 1991 single "Sexboxsampled a portion of the lyrics. Sy Smith and her back-up singer LeJon Walker sampled the song during their performance of "Think (About It)", which is featured on her DVDSy Smith Live: Worship at the Temple.

Appearances in other media[edit]Edit

"Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" has appeared in a number of feature films, including City of GodTwistedLegally BlondeLock, Stock and Two Smoking BarrelsFriday and The Tuxedo (in which it is performed by Jackie Chan). It has also been used in an episode of the television sitcom Scrubs and in commercials for the Renault Clio and Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto. The song was featured in the BMW direct-to-video commercial Beat the Devil starring James Brown as himself, as well as on a Pontiac commercial. In the early 1990s Brown performed an adapted version for miso soup commercials in Japan.[16]

The song figures prominently in the 2003 Japanese film Get Up!, a comedy about a James Brown-obsessed yakuza gangster. The film's title (which transliterates into Japanese as Geroppa!) is taken from the song's lyrics.

British satirical puppet show Spitting Image ended an episode with an opera-style cover of the song, starring Luciano Pavarotti.

The song is alluded to in "The Crunge" by Led Zeppelin.

Part 1 of "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" is available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series of video games.

The song also inspired the title of the 2014 James Brown biographical film Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman as the singer.

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