James Brown

Licking Stick-Licking Stick

Composed by Alfred Ellis / Bobby Byrd / James Brown / Pee Wee Ellis

Song Review by

After refining his stripped-down soul formula with the propulsive proto-funk hit "Cold Sweat," James Brown continued to knock out one classic after another in this vein. "Licking Stick - Licking Stick" is a highlight from this era, a fun song that layered rapped vocals over a playful groove. The lyrics present a rush of images seen by a little boy watching his sister "doing her out of sight dance" as he waits for his mother to bring him the title candy. His main focus is his sister, who is out in the backyard "doing her out of sight dance." These lyrics never really add up to a story line but they work in their own impressionistic way. However, the key hook to "Licking Stick - Licking Stick" is its infectious melody, which weds swinging, rhythmic verses to a soulful chorus melody that underpins the oft-repeated lines "Mama, come here quick/And bring me that licking stick." James Brown's recording anchors the song's with a rock-solid groove that layers swinging horns that drawl out their lines over a percolating bass line spiced up by some nimble organ stabs. They also work in a great bit where Brown and backup vocalist Bobby Brown harmonize on the title phrase while saxophonist Maceo Parker solos in the background. These elements gel nicely to create an engaging five-minute funk jam that offers enough twists and personality to avoid wearing out its welcome. As a result, "Licking Stick - Licking Stick" caught on with both pop and R&B audiences when it was released as a single, going into the Top 15 on the pop side and all the way to number two on the R&B charts.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud 1969 Polydor 2:52
Sex Machine 1970 Universal Distribution 1:20
The CD Of J.B: Sex Machine & Other Soul Classics 1985 Polydor 2:47
Star Time 1991 Polydor 4:52
Foundations of Funk - A Brand New Bag: 1964-1969 1996 Chronicles / Polydor / Universal Distribution 4:15
40th Anniversary Collection 1996 Polydor 2:47
Say It Live & Loud: Live in Dallas 1998 Chronicles / PolyGram 4:13
Playlist Plus 2008 Polydor / Universal / Universal Music 4:54
5 Classic Albums 2014 Polydor 1:19
blue highlight denotes editor's pick