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“Try Me”, titled “Try Me (I Need You)” in its original release, is a song recorded by James Brown and The Famous Flames in 1958. It was a #1 R&B hit and charted #48 Pop – the group’s first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Brown and the Flames’ second charting single, ending a two-year dry spell after the success of “Please, Please, Please”.
By 1958 James Brown’s career was faltering. After disputes over royalties, songwriting credit, and the indignity of having been relegated to backup singers on the billing of “Please, Please, Please”, most of the original Famous Flames (including founder Bobby Byrd) had walked out on him; only Johnny Terry remained. Brown continued to perform with a backing band and a new Flames lineup consisting of members of Little Richard’s former vocal group, the Dominions. (“Big Bill” Hollings, Louis Madison, and J.W. Archer). They recorded more songs for Federal Records, but nine of their singles in a row failed to chart.
On the way back to Macon, Georgia after a disappointing West Coast tour, Brown approached his guitar player Bobby Roach with a tune he said he had been given by a patron at the Million Dollar Palms, a Florida nightclub. After Roach crafted a guitar part for “Try Me”, Brown and the Flames worked out the vocal harmonies together and cut a demo to send to label head Syd Nathan. Nathan was impressed with it and arranged for a recording session in New York with producer Andy Gibson and a group of seasoned session musicians. Despite the contributions of other people, Brown took the sole writing credit for the song.
In his 1986 autobiography, Brown described “Try Me” as “really a pop tune. I had heard “Raindrops” by Dee Clark and “For Your Precious Love” by Jerry Butler and the Impressions, so I wrote my song to fit between them.” However, “Raindrops” was actually released more than two years after “Try Me”.