James Brown

Bring It Up (Hipster's Avenue)

Song Review by

"Bring It Up (Hipster's Avenue)", co-written by James Brown and his alto saxophonist Nat Jones, doesn't get quite as much attention, acclaim, and airplay as the biggest of his string of mid-1960s soul-funk smashes. But it's quite a good and exciting song, and was pretty successful upon its initial release, reaching the Top Ten of the R&B charts and the Top Thirty of the pop listings. The song starts with a bouncy, ascending bass riff, immediately doubled by a lean, spidery guitar riff. Bongos help keep the galvanizing, Latin-influenced boogalooing rhythm, while Brown sets the mood by urging everyone to gather around and clap their hands. The horns then jump in with a series of peppy riffs, each successive one higher than the next. At the end of one quartet burst of horn notes, the track comes to a brief pause, allowing Brown -- who's been urging the band on with "hit it!" exclamations -- to let loose with one of his trademark frayed screams. All of this is achieved in the first half-minute. Like many Brown songs, "Bring It Up" isn't really about anything; the lyrics are pretty much an exhortation to dance and get it in the groove. Of course, "Bring It Up" establishes a dynamite groove for doing so, and is just a shade smoother than some of his other uptempo hits of the era, like "Cold Sweat" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." The smoothness doesn't detract at all, in fact it makes for some welcome micro-variation from the Brown formula. Particularly nice are the uncharacteristically pop-soul backup female vocals, sounding a little Motown-influenced. The song gets periodically chopped up by those ascending bursts of horns coming to a dead stop, followed by a snazzy and jazzy bit of brass. At one point, a somewhat more conventional soul bridge with a bit more melody than the verse breaks in, but otherwise the track is pretty much a nonstop soul-funk dance groove. If there's a flaw to "Bring It Up," it's that the last half of the four-minute track is something of a monotonous letdown in comparison with the first half. Brown's extended live version of the song, on Live at the Apollo Vol. 2, is a little more uptempo and funkier than the studio single, and a bit more exciting, though (particularly in its absence of the female backup harmony vocals) not quite as refined in its arrangement.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sings Raw Soul 1967 Universal 0:00
Star Time 1991 Polydor 3:48
The 50th Anniversary Collection 2003 UTV / Polydor / Universal 2:45