Light foot or heavy foot?

Bill Doggett's biggest hit is as simple as an instrumental blues gets: a couple of little riffs that get manhandled in turn by guitarist Billy Butler and tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott. James Brown caught on to it very quickly - his vocal version, "Let's Make It," was recorded before "Honky Tonk" had gotten much attention. (As usual in such situations, "Let's Make It" is credited to one James Brown.) "Let's Make It" was buried away on the B-side of the non-hit "Just Won't Do Right" - which Brown also re-recorded repeatedly, but that's another story.When a bunch of JB sidemen cut their instrumental debut for Loma in 1965 as Bobby Bennett and the Dynamics, their song "Soul Jerk" - credited to guess who - bears, well, a very strong resemblance to "Honky Tonk."

If there was any bad blood between King labelmates Doggett and Brown, though, it had gone away by 1969, when Doggett released the JB-produced single "Honky Tonk" b/w "Honky Tonk Popcorn." (Curiously, its catalogue number is the one immediately before "The Popcorn" - which, when it became a hit, was promptly followed by "Butter Your Popcorn," "Mother Popcorn," "Answer to Mother Popcorn," "Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn," "Popcorn Charlie," "Lowdown Popcorn" and "Popcorn with a Feeling.")

Brown's released two other recordings of "Honky Tonk": one with The James Brown Soul Train (basically the entire revue doing the chant at the beginning, and his regular touring band playing the groove; you can hear how its lope evolved into 1973's "Doing It to Death," too), and another from 1980's Soul Syndrome, by which point the rhythm section's precision swing had evolved into the sort of light foot/heavy foot regularity that's plagued his live performances ever since.