James Brown

Please, Please, Please

Composed by James Brown

Song Review by

"Please Please Please" was James Brown's debut single and his first hit, going to the R&B Top Ten in 1956. Launching Brown's career is reason alone to make it a significant recording, even if it would be two years or so and a string of more than half a dozen follow-up flop singles before he got another hit. More importantly, though, "Please Please Please" was an R&B classic, one that spilled over to doo wop and rock'n'roll, and also foreshadowed the soul music with which Brown would peak in the 1960s. Of course most soul music has deep gospel roots, and those are especially deep in "Please Please Please," with its repeated frenzied chanting, responsive backup vocals, and frayed screaming/pleading. The song itself had some roots in the blues standard "Baby Please Don't Go," which the doo wop group the Orioles had recorded in 1952. Brown starts the song off with brief a cappella pleading of the title phrase. The track then introduces a standard ballad doo wop R&B arrangement with evenly pounded piano. One could say the song itself is basic in extreme, consisting of a message/plea for Brown's woman not to leave. Brown, though, milks the emotion to the extreme so that it transcends the limited source material, repeatedly chanting words -- particularly "please," of course -- in different ranges to project his determination and desperation. The gospel-like backup singing grounds the song in a more sedate and conventional framework, though. King Records chief Syd Nathan hated the record and initially not only refused to release it, but wanted to fire the producer who brought Brown to King, Ralph Bass. Nathan changed his mind on both counts, fortunately not just for Brown but for Nathan, as by the 1960s Brown was by far the biggest star on King. Brown kept it in his stage act for a long time, and in fact it was built up into a hammy but immensely entertaining piece in which he verged on collapse and was led from the stage, only to rise up as if from the dead and scuttle back to the mike for another reprise. You can see him do that routine on the celebrated early rock concert film The T.A.M.I. Show, filmed in 1964. Several R&B and soul artists have covered "Please Please Please," including Stevie Wonder, the Isley Brothers, Little Milton, and Mitch Ryder. By far the best-known interpretation, however -- and the most liberal one -- is the version the Who placed on their 1965 debut album, My Generation. Though some soul-R&B purists can't abide its irreverence, it's actually quite exciting, with some gravelly hyper-excitable blue-eyed soul vocals from Roger Daltrey, characteristically all-over-the-place splashing drums from Keith Moon, and even a bit of rudimentary guitar feedback from Pete Townshend in the instrumental break.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Live at the Apollo 1963 Universal Distribution
Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal 1964 Universal Republic 3:57
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag [Polygram] 1965 Polygram Special Products
It's a Man's Man's Man's World 1966 Universe / Universe 4:01
Live at the Garden 1967 Universal Music 2:45
Sex Machine 1970 Culture Factory 2:22
Get on the Good Foot 1972 Polydor / Universal 12:22
Hell 1974 Polydor / Universal 4:15
Hot 1976
Hot
POLYDOR 6:55
No Image 1977 Polydor
Hot on the One 1980 Polydor / Universal 3:51
No Image 1981 Audio Fidelity
The  CD Of J.B: Sex Machine & Other Soul Classics 1985 Polydor 2:44
No Image 1986 Sony Music Distribution
Soul Jubilee 1990 Magnum (UK) / MagMid
Star Time 1991 Polydor 2:43
20 All-Time Greatest Hits! 1991 Polydor 2:44
The Commitments (Original Artists Recordings of Featured Music) 1991
Various Artists
Atco 2:45
Love Power Peace 1992 Polydor 2:09
At Studio 54 1994 Charly Records 2:51
Turn It Loose 1994 Drive Archive 3:48
No Image 1995 Image Entertainment
Live at the Apollo 1995 1995 Sbme Special Mkts. 3:01
Soul Machine 1995 Back Biter 2:46
Fonzie's Make-Out Music 1996
Various Artists
Nick At Nite / Sony Music Distribution 2:45
40th Anniversary Collection 1996 Polydor 2:44
No Image 1996 Polydor 2:44
Greatest Hits [Experience] 1997 Experience / Mozaic
James Brown's Golden Classics 1997 Intercontinental Records 3:51
MVP Vintage Soul, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
MVP Records 2:43
Golden Hits [Galaxy] 1997 Galaxy Music 3:38
Whole Lotta Rock: 1956 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:47
50's Soul 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / Rebound Records 2:47
East Side Story, Vol. 10 1998
Various Artists
East Side Records 2:44
The Very Best of James Brown [Polygram] 1998 Polydor / Polygram 2:43
Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 1998 Chronicles / PolyGram 2:15
Latin Oldies, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:43
Gold Collection [Fine Tune] 1998 Retro Music 3:54
The Godfather of Soul Live 1998 Mastertone 2:14
It's a Live Live Live World 1998 Emporio 3:45
Sex Machine [Masters] 1998 Intercontinental Records 3:49
Masters [Cleopatra] 1999 EDM Entertainment 2:59
Latin Oldies Trilogy 1999
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:43
Soul Live: Papa's Got a Brand New Bag 1999 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 3:28
The Godfather Live in New York City 1999 Dressed To Kill 3:47
On Stage 1999 Charly Records 3:47
No Image 1999 Polydor 2:41
Live at Studio 54 1999 Pazzazz 2:42
Soul Session 1999
Various Artists
Ripete Records 2:43
Classic Rhythm & Blues 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:46
James Brown [Magic Collection] 2000 The Magic Collection 3:58
Liberty Heights [Original Soundtrack] 2000
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 2:48
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag: Live at Chaiston Park 2000 Castle Pulse 3:59
Get up Offa That Thing [2001] 2001 Bianco 3:58
The Classic Rhythm & Blues Collection, Vol. 4: The Fifties 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:45
The Legends Collection: The James Brown Collection 2001 Legends Collection 3:54
The James Brown Collection, Vol. 2 2001 Dressed To Kill 3:54
Out of Sight: Greatest Hits 2002 Polydor
Super Bad: Live 2002 Orpheus Records 3:50
East Side Story, Vol. 1-12 2002
Various Artists
East Side Records 2:44
James Brown & Friends 2002 Legend 3:28
Original Funk Soul Brother [2002] 2002 Recall (UK) 2:52
In Concert 2002 BCI-Eclipse Distribution 3:56
Ultimate Collection 2003 The Ultimate Music Collection 3:48
The  50th Anniversary Collection 2003 Universal (Pty) Ltd. 2:45
It's Too Funky in Here 2003 Dynamic 3:47
Sexmachine 2003 Forever Gold / Weton 3:51
Greatest Soul on Earth 2003 Fuel 2000 2:53
Rhythm & Blues Collection: Classic R&B Hits 2003
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:46
Encore Series 2004 St. Clair Vision
Platinum & Gold Collection: The Best Of James Brown 2004 BMG / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
Give It Up or Turn It Loose 2004 Pazzazz 2:42
Please Please Please [Pazzazz] 2004 Pazzazz 3:47
Forevergold 2005 Forever Gold (Allegiance)
Soul 2 Soul 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:51
The Collection [Performax] 2005 Performax 4:03
Night of Super Soul 2005 Immortal
Live at Montreux 1981 [Video] 2005 Eagle Vision
Best of James Brown [Music Brokers] 2005 Music Brokers
Golden Legends: James Brown Live 2006 Madacy 3:51
Best of James Brown Live [Platinum Disc] 2006 Platinum Disc 3:50
James Brown Story 2006 Universal International
People Get Ready: 24 Soul Legends 2006
Various Artists
Wonderful Music 4:00
James Brown [Direct Source] 2006 Direct Source 4:03
The Singles, Vol. 1: The Federal Years: 1956-1960 2006 Hip-O Select / Fontana/Hip-O Select 2:46
And I Do Just What I Want 2006 UMVD 2:46
The Soul Story, Vol. 3 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:45
Living in America [Delta] 2007 Delta / Delta Distribution
Forever Gold: James Brown Live 2007 St. Clair 3:48
Godfather of Soul [Madacy] 2007 Madacy 3:50
Live in Atlanta 2007 KRB Music 9:00
Ultimate Showman: Live in Concert 2007 Deluxe
Collections 2007 Legacy 2:45
Gold 2007 Universal International 2:44
Live in Santa Cruz 2007 Immortal
Soul Story Infomercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:45
James Brown [Madacy] 2007 Madacy 3:50
No Image 2007 Polydor / Universal Music
Soul Fever: Selected Singles 1955-56 2007 Saga Records 2:46
Live [Forever DVD] 2007 Forever DVD / Musicpro
Greatest Hits [Deja Vu] 2007 Deja Vu
The 50 Greatest Songs 2007 Universal / Universal Distribution 4:17
Yesterday's Gold: 60 Golden Oldies of the 50's 2008
Various Artists
Remember Records
No Image 2008 Disky
Best of Hits 2008 St. Clair 3:50
Cold Sweat Live 2008 Goldenlane / Cleopatra 3:51
No Image 2008 Platinum Collection / WG Productions
Playlist Plus 2008 Polydor 2:46
James Brown [Weton-Wesgram] 2008 Weton-Wesgram 3:49
Playlist Your Way 2008 Polydor 2:47
50's Super Hits 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 2:44
Music of My Life: Golden Decade, Vol. 18 (1956) 2008
Various Artists
Membran 2:44
Superhits Collection 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 2:44
Super Night of Rock and Roll 2009
Various Artists
Go Digital Records 2:46
Hard to Find Jukebox Classics 1958: Rhythm and Rock 2009
Various Artists
Hit Parade Records 2:46
The Godfather's Smackdown 2009 Fuel 2000 / Varèse Sarabande
Rhythm & Blues History 2010
Various Artists
ZYX 2:44
Sex Machine/Gettin' Down to It 2010 Universal Music 2:26
The Essential Early Recordings 2011 Primo 2:48
Ed Sullivan Presents: Rock 'N' Roll Revolution 2011
Various Artists
Sofa Entertainment, Inc. / Universal
Lemon Popsicles and Strawberry Milkshakes [10 Disc Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Go Entertainment 2:44
Best of Live at the Apollo: 50th Anniversary 2012 Polydor 2:42
Godfather of Soul and Funk 2012 Sound and Vision 2:45
Where Southern Soul Began: 1954-1962 2013
Various Artists
History of Soul Records
The Soul Legend 2014 Wagram
Get on Up: Live in America 2014 Gonzo / Gonzo Multimedia / United States of Distribution 3:59
5 Classic Albums 2014 Polydor 2:26
Ultimate Legends: Live 2016 Aao / The Ultimate Music Collection 3:48
No Image
Various Artists
Wagram
A Soul Awakening: From Sacred to Secular
Various Artists
History of Soul Records 2:45
Best of the Blues: James Brown - Live at Chastain Park Éditions Atlas
Best of the Sexmachine: Live ZYX 3:49
Greatest Hits [Movieplay] Movieplay Music
It's a Man's Man's Man's World [Single] Sound and Vision 3:49
James Brown Live, Vol. 2 OBJECT 3:47
No Image
Various Artists
Wagram
No Image Phantom
Live at Montreux 1981 Eagle Rock 4:40
No Image
Various Artists
Puzzled Records 2:45
No Image Labelle 2:45
Please, Please, Please and More No. 1 Hits
Various Artists
Sound and Vision 2:42
Rhythm & Blues
Various Artists
Music & Melody / ZYX Music 2:44
Sex Machine [Excalibur] Excalibur 3:49
Smash Soul & R&B Hits, Vol. 5
Various Artists
Excalibur 3:49
Soul Chronology, Vol. 3: Save a Seat for Me
Various Artists
History of Soul Records 2:45
Soul Collection [Music & Melody]
Various Artists
Music & Melody 3:49
Soul Music: The First Generation
Various Artists
Primo / Primo Records 2:45
No Image
Various Artists
Labelle 2:45
No Image
Various Artists
Audio Fidelity
No Image
Various Artists
ZYX / ZYX Music 2:22
No Image Must Have Records 2:45
The History Of Rhythm And Blues 1952-1957
Various Artists
Rhythm & Blues 1:56
No Image
Various Artists
Must Have Records 2:45
The Who Beginnings, Vol. 1: Maximum R&B
Various Artists
History of RnB Records / Redeye Music Distribution 2:47
You've Got the Power: 1956-1962 Xtra
blue highlight denotes editor's pick