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Rolling Stones unreleased: Try Me
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Written by: James Brown
Recorded: Chess Studios, Chicago, USA, May 10-11 1965
*From Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
Try Me was the title track from James Brown’s first 1959 album. It was re-released in 1964 under the brash title The Unbeatable James Brown – 16 Hits. A 10″ RCA Victor acetate of the Stones playing an Everly Brothers song (title unknown) was also recorded at these sessions. There are no vocals. It was auctioned in 1990.
James Brown fans raised on “Cold Sweat” and “The Payback” might be surprised by this mellow soul ballad, which gave Brown his first R&B chart-topper. Like his previous hit “Please Please Please,” the song was a lover’s plea set to a mid-tempo R&B melody. However, “Try Me” was a subtler and more melodic affair. The lyric avoided the emotional begging of “Please Please Please” in favor of a more seductive approach, complete with lines like “hold me by your side” and “your love we will not hide.”
The music underlines the plea with a melody that ebbs and flows in a way that gives the song a gentle, soulful swing. James Brown’s recording of the song brings the song’s romantic feel to life with a sax-driven arrangement that utilizes staccato piano lines and a steady beat to keep the song moving forward. It also works in a short but catchy instrumental break where the saxophone and rhythm guitar trade lines before intertwining to create a pulsing, staccato riff.
However, the true highlight of “Try Me” is the gospel-inspired vocal interplay: Brown delivers an impassioned but surprisingly delicate lead vocal while the Famous Flames back him up with smooth harmonies arranged to form a call-and-response style with his lead. The result made an ideal slow-dance number for sock hops and its blend of soul of slickness took it to number one on the R&B charts. “Try Me” also made it into the Top 50 area of the pop charts, paving the way for future crossover hits like “I Feel Good.” The song remains a favorite with soul fans and has popped up consistently in Brown’s live shows over the years.
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