Originally released as a three-part single in 1971, this song charted #3 R&B and #29 on the Hot 100. Part 1 of "Soul Power" appeared on the 1972 album Soul Classics. However, the complete 12 minutes-plus studio recording didn't feature on disc until the 1996 CD compilation Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang.
Trombonist Fred Wesley was a pivotal member of James Brown's bands for many years. He also served as band leader and musical director of Brown's band the J.B.'s and did much of the composing and arranging for the group. This was the first song that Fred Wesley assisted James Brown on. He recalled to Uncut in 2017:
"That was my first leader gig. I remember that real clearly, because he told me he wanted a horn part that would fit in with what the drums were doing, so I came up with that line. The way James would write is, he would have an idea which would consist of maybe a beat on the table and the sung bass line, and then you have to put that into musical terms so the band could understand what to do. You had to turn that into music, so I just took James Brown's ideas and it became a song."
In 1974 James Brown created an instrumental version of "Soul Power." Credited to "Maceo and the Macks," the new version charted #20 R&B.
Jennifer Lopez's 2005 hit single "Get Right" was built around a looping blaring horn sample from "Soul Power 74."
"Piano Man" was inspired by Billy Joel's time playing at a piano bar in Los Angeles. The "real estate novelist" was a guy who always talked about writing a book, but spent all his spare time in the bar.