Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine

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"Get Up I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine (Part 1)"
King label with variant title wording
Single by James Brown
B-side "Get Up I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine (Part 2)"
Released July 1970 (1970-07)
Format 7"
Recorded April 25, 1970, Starday-King Studios, Nashville, TN
Genre Funk[1]
Length 2:49 (Part 1)
2:33 (Part 2)
Label King
6318
Writer(s) James Brown
Bobby Byrd
Ron Lenhoff
Producer(s) James Brown
James Brown charting singles chronology
"Brother Rapp (Part 1) & (Part 2)"
(1970)
"Get Up I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine (Part 1)"
(1970)
"Super Bad (Part 1 & Part 2)"
(1970)

"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.[2]

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

Analysis[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 solo 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[3] — 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]

  • James Brown – lead vocal, piano

with The JB's:

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[5] 4
Germany (Media Control Charts)[6] 29
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[7] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8] 7
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 32
US Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles[10] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 15
US Cash Box[11] 17
US Cash Box R&B[citation needed] 1
US Record World[12] 17

Other recordings[edit]

"Sex Machine Part I"
Single by James Brown
from the album Sex Machine Today
B-side "Sex Machine Part II"
Released 1975 (1975)
Format 7"
Genre Funk, disco
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"[13] — 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.