No. 17 The Payback (1973) by James Brown
The Godfather of Soul has never been known as a particularly strong album-maker. Most of his greatest material was released before the full-length LP became the driving force of the music industry–but he did craft one undeniably perfect studio album. Initially conceived as the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Hell Up In Harlem, Brown’s album was rejected by the film producers. It’s hard to figure out why; because this is 70s-era JB at his funkiest and grittiest–with some truly beautiful balladry thrown in for good measure.