James Brown – Down and Out in New York City


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

In 1973 James Brown provided the score for the blaxploitation film Black Caesar. The single released from this soundtrack was Down and Out In New York City – my favorite James Brown song of all time. What I love about the song is that it has a deep soul foundation, but also displays the hardcore funk that Brown was enamored with in the early 70’s. The melody is positively infectious and the grooves make you want to get up and dance. Vocally, this is one of the best performances that Jams Brown ever delivered. The verses delivered right around the 1 minute mark bleed with passion “So you try hard or you die hard / No one really gives a good damn / You try hard and you die hard / Nobody gives a damn”. Around this time period is when James Brown started calling himself “The Godfather of Soul”. The single charted at #13 on the R&B charts and #50 on the Pop charts. The 7″ included the stunning soul lament, Mama’s Dead. Truly, an extraordinary release from James Brown at what can arguably be considered the peak of his creative powers.

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