The Payback

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The Payback
Studio album by James Brown
Released December 1973
Recorded February–October 1973
Genre Funk[1]
Length 72:52
Label Polydor
Producer James Brown
James Brown chronology
Slaughter's Big Rip-Off
(1973)Slaughter's Big Rip-Off1973
The Payback
Singles from The Payback
  1. "Stoned to the Bone"
    Released: November 1973
  2. "The Payback"
    Released: February 1974
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B+[2]
eMusic 5/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[4]

The Payback is the 40th studio album by American musician James Brown. The album was released in December 1973, by Polydor Records. It was originally scheduled to become the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Hell Up in Harlem, but was rejected by the film's producers, who dismissed it as "the same old James Brown stuff." (A widely repeated story—including by Brown himself—that director Larry Cohen rejected the music as "not funky enough" is denied by Cohen.)[5] It went to #1 on the Soul Albums chart for two weeks and cracked the Pop Albums chart in the Top 40. It was Brown's only studio album to be certified gold.[6]

The Payback is considered a high point in Brown's recording career, and is now regarded by critics as a landmark funk album. Its revenge-themed title track, a #1 R&B hit, is one of his most famous songs and an especially prolific source of samples for record producers. Musically the album is largely cyclic grooves and jamming, but it also features departures into a softer soul-based sound on tracks like "Doing the Best I Can" and "Forever Suffering".

The album was reissued on CD in 1992 with liner notes by Alan Leeds.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by James Brown, Fred Wesley and Charles Bobbit; except where noted..

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Payback" Brown, Wesley, John "Jabo" Starks 7:39
2. "Doing the Best I Can"   7:42
3. "Take Some...Leave Some"   8:33
4. "Shoot Your Shot" Brown 8:09
5. "Forever Suffering"   5:52
6. "Time Is Running out Fast"   12:47
7. "Stone to the Bone" Brown 10:14
8. "Mind Power"   12:04


  • The track time for "Mind Power" is from the 1992 re-release of the album. The original 1973 version is 90 seconds shorter.



AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1974 Billboard Pop Albums 34

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "James Brown: The Payback > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 9, 1980). "A Consumer Guide to James Brown". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ Wolk, Douglas (November 23, 2010). "James Brown, The Payback". eMusic. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ "The New Rolling Stone Album Guide - Nathan Brackett, Christian David Hoard - Google Books". Retrieved 2015-07-19. 
  5. ^ Smith, RJ. The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, 290. New York: Gotham Books, 2012.
  6. ^ "The James Brown Review". Retrieved 2015-07-19. 

External links[edit]