By late 1965, James Brown was nearly ten years into his R&B chart career in the US. But as far as the majority of the pop audience was concerned, he had only been on the radar for a few months. On November 13 that year, he hit the Billboard Hot 100 with the song that would become his second big crossover single in a row, “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
Brown was now reaping the rewards from his stunning performance on the T.A.M.I. Show TV special of late 1964. That was the historic show on which he rubbed shoulders with such British invaders as the Rolling Stones and Gerry & the Pacemakers, and US acts including the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, and upstaged them all.
In the summer of 1965, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” not only became his second R&B No.1 (and first for seven years, since “Try Me”) but made him a pop radio name as well, reaching No.8 on the Hot 100. Better still was to come with “I Got You.”
The artist had first recorded the song a year earlier, in a version that got caught up in a legal wrangle. Its origins went back even further, to a version titled “I Found You” by Yvonne Fair, then a member of JB’s band, later a solo artist best remembered for her UK hit of 1976, “It Should Have Been Me.” The Godfather of Soul’s hit version of the tune, recorded in May 1965, featured, among others, Maceo Parker on sax and his brother Melvin on drums.
“I Got You (I Feel Good)” arrived on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1965 at a confident No.68, the third-highest of 16 new entries and below only the Four Tops’ “Something About You” and “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark 5. The next week, it made an incredible 54-place climb to No.14, and went on to spend three weeks at No.3, from just before Christmas into the new year. On the December 4 chart, the track started a six-week run atop the R&B survey. It went on to feature repeatedly as a cultural marker of the era, everywhere from Good Morning Vietnam to The Simpsons.
Buy or stream “I Got You (Feel Good)” on the album of the same name.