Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Second Thought...Again

What it be like, soul children? I dug a little deeper into the crates this past week, and pulled out some phenomenal cover tracks that I unintentionally neglected when I posted some other secondhand songs a few weeks ago. Time to blow the dust off and give these grooves their rightful turn in the rotation...

"Hold On I'm Comin"---Erma Franklin (zShare)

"Hold On I'm Comin"---Erma Franklin (savefile)

*Written by Isaac Hayes/David Porter; Originally performed by Sam & Dave; Erma's rendition appeared on her Soul Sister LP (Brunswick, 1969), while her sister Aretha didn't release her cover of the tune until 1981.

Rumored song fact: While songwriter/producer David Porter was on the toilet, his songwriting partner Isaac Hayes yelled at him to hurry up so they could get back to work, being frustrated at the lack of progress they had made that day. Porter responded, "Hold on man, I'm coming." The immediately inspired Porter quickly finished his business and excitedly told Hayes that "Hold On, I'm Coming" would be a great title for a song.

"Give It Up Or Turn It Loose (Part 1&2)"---Marva Whitney/Osaka Monaurail (zShare)

"Give It Up Or Turn It Loose (Part 1&2)"---Marva Whitney/Osaka Monaurail (savefile)

*This song was written by Charles Bobbit (JB's personal manager), and originally released in 1969 by James Brown as the "Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose" single (b/w "I'll Lose My Mind"). That version appeared on the Ain't It Funky album, while Brown also recorded a second take w/ The J.B.'s for the Sex Machine double-LP (1970). Over five minutes long, this later recording used a substantially different instrumental arrangement, with an added organ riff and a rapid, ornate bassline, as well as different lyrics. A remix of this recording by Tim Rodgers appears on the 1986 compilation album In The Jungle Groove. The remixed version has been sampled extensively.

*Marva Whitney is, of course, one of James Brown's Original Funky Divas, aka Soulsister Number One, aka The First Lady Of Funk. When she toured Japan in 2006, she teamed up with the ultra-funky Osaka Monaurail, who acted as her backing band in the six cities that she played. After this brief stint ended, Whitney went back to the studio with the group and recorded her first solo LP in 36 years. The album, I Am What I Am, features a mixture of covers, originals, and instrumentals...a must-have recording for anyone who's a fan of her work.

"Fever"---Patti Drew (zShare)

"Fever"---Patti Drew (savefile)

*Written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell; first recorded by Little Willie John in 1956, but was popularized by Peggy Lee two years later.

*Numerous artists have remade this track over the years, including Elvis, King Curtis, Ben E. King, Madonna, Ray Charles & Natalie Cole, Buddy Guy, Marie Queenie Lyons, and many more. Patti Drew's take on the song is decidedly cooler than most...

"Purple Haze"---The String Quartet (zShare)

"Purple Haze"---The String Quartet (savefile)

*Written by Jimi Hendrix; first released as an audio single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967.

*Despite the fact that most of us will forever associate this song with drug usage (and more specifically, LSD), Hendrix claimed that it was inspired by a spiritual dream he once had. The working title for the track is said to have been "Purple Haze, Jesus Saves".

*The String Quartet Tribute albums are an eclectic series released on Vitamin Records. They feature a rotating cast of musicians who perform classical covers of material by a wide variety of artists. More than 200 of these projects have been released so far, paying homage to everyone from Marilyn Manson to Massive Attack. The Hendrix tribute undoubtedly has some lackluster moments, but their take on "Purple Haze" kinda kicks ass (albeit in its own peculiar way). For anyone who's completely mortified by orchestral Jimi, I offer this as my unapologetic, yet humble penance:

"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby"---Bobby Byrd (zShare)

"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby"---Bobby Byrd (savefile)

*Another track written by the Hayes/Porter songwriting duo that was originally recorded by Sam & Dave; first released on their Double Dynamite LP in 1966.

"Come Together"---Willie Bobo And The Bo-Gents (zShare)

"Come Together"---Willie Bobo And The Bo-Gents (savefile)

*Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; originally released on The Beatles' Abbey Road LP in 1969. Bobo's instrumental version was released on Sussex in the early '70s, perfectly fusing Latin sounds with deep funk rhythms.

*Unlike "Purple Haze", "Come Together" actually did have something to do with LSD. Timothy Leary, the drug's most visible and noteworthy proponent, ran for Governer of California and asked John Lennon to write a song for his campaign. Leary's slogan was "Come Together, Join The Party", the original title of the famous Beatles track. The Acid King's political aspirations didn't get him very far, but his slogan inspired Lennon to pen one of the most celebrated tunes in popular music history.

*John Lennon was sued for stealing a line and guitar riff in "Come Together" from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me". It wasn't Berry who made the allegations, however. Rather, Lennon was sued by Morris Levy (founder of Roulette Records), a rather notorious music business mogul who claimed authorship and rights to quite a few songs that he actually stole from other artists. It would be laborious to highlight every detail, but Lennon ultimately agreed to record some songs that Levy owned in an attempt to settle the suit. Lennon was working with crazy-ass Phil Spector at the time, who apparently ran away with the session tapes for a while, adding even more insanity to the already dramatic sequence of events. More of the sordid details can be found here.

"Save Me"---Nina Simone (zShare)

"Save Me"---Nina Simone (savefile)

*Written by Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, and Carolyn Franklin; originally released on Aretha's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You LP in 1967. Nina Simone's rendition came two years later, appearing on her LP, A Very Rare Evening.

Nina's first TV performance, covering "Love Me Or Leave Me", a song written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn. The tune was first heard in the Broadway play Whoopee!, and the original recording became a fairly big hit for Ruth Etting in 1929. Doris Day and Lena Horne both recorded successful versions of the song in 1955, while Nina's version came about in 1958 on her debut album, Little Girl Blue. In 1966, Simone also included the track on her Let It All Out LP:

"Respect"---The Soul Survivors (zShare)

"Respect"---The Soul Survivors (savefile)

*Written by Otis Redding, and originally released by him on September 15, 1965.

*The Soul Survivors released some great blue-eyed soul tracks in the '60s, including their biggest hit, "Expressway To Your Heart" (from their LP of the same title, 1967). The album included some memorable covers, including their energetic rendition of "Respect". I'm pretty certain these guys are still touring, but I'm afraid that respirators, aging groupies, and shitloads of Viagra might somewhat cheapen the experience.

"Ain't No Sunshine (J Rocc Remix)"---Kashmere Stage Band (zShare)

"Ain't No Sunshine (J Rocc Remix)"---Kashmere Stage Band (savefile)

*Originally written by Bill Withers, appearing on his Just As I Am LP, 1971.

*The track was originally released as a B-side to Withers' song "Harlem", but DJs preferred it to the intended single. "Ain't No Sunshine" won the Grammy for best R&B song in 1972.

*The Kashmere Stage Band is actually a group of high school students who made some phenomenal music in the late '60s and early '70s. The school is in a predominantly black neighborhood in Houston, Texas, known as Kashmere Gardens. As legend has it, music teacher Conrad Johnson was inspired by seeing a live Otis Redding show, and decided to translate this style into the work he did with his highly talented student musicians. Thanks largely to Stones Throw records, the band has achieved quite a bit of recognition in recent years. J Rocc's bottom-heavy take on their cover is from a 12" collection of KSB remixes (released on Now Again in 2006).

One of the greatest covers of "Ain't No Sunshine", a jaw-dropping performance by blues legend Freddie King:

"Hard Times"---Baby Huey & the Babysitters (zShare)

"Hard Times"---Baby Huey & the Babysitters (savefile)

*Written by Curtis Mayfield

*It may be a bit questionable to call this a cover considering that Baby Huey actually recorded this song for The Baby Huey Story (Curtom, 1971) two years before Mayfield released the track himself on his Back To The World LP (Curtom, 1973). I say fuck itself is imperfect. (Edit: see the comments section for info on the very first recording of this song by Gene Chandler, and a link to the mp3. Gratitude to the Stepfather Of Soul for helping me straighten this out)

*Baby Huey was introduced to Mayfield by Donny Hathaway in 1969. Mayfield promptly signed him to his Curtom label and penned a handful of tunes for the debut. Unfortunately, Huey tipped the scales at around 400 pounds, and his weight (coupled with a crippling heroin addiction) led to his untimely demise in 1970. His passing came before The Baby Huey Story was completely finished. The album was released in 1971 after edits and overdubs allowed for five vocal tracks and three instrumentals to be pieced together in a somewhat cohesive manner. Chaka Khan, wife of The Babysitters' bassist Hassan Khan, fronted the band for a short while after Huey's passing, but the group dissolved shortly thereafter.

*Many music critics/fans have promoted the idea that Huey's unique vocalizations often bordered on an embryonic style of rapping, particularly in his pre-Curtom live performances in the late '60s. Hip hop has undoubtedly played a vital role in keeping his lone record relevant through sampling, despite the fact that it was generally ignored at the time of its release. "Hard Times" alone has been sampled on joints by Ghostface Killah, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon, Alkaholiks, Ice Cube, Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, Diamond D, Yaggfu Front, Saafir, People Under The Stairs, and more.

"Wild Horses"---Labelle (zShare)

"Wild Horses"---Labelle (savefile)

*Written by Mick Jagger/Keith Richards; recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1969 by The Rolling Stones, and first released on their Sticky Fingers LP in 1971.

*Part of this tune was evidently written by Richards for his son Marlon, who was an infant at the time. Richards was apparently regretful about leaving his newborn child to go on tour. Jagger rewrote some of the lyrics, but the source of his inspiration has been somewhat disputed over the years. By some accounts, Mick's verses pertained to his relationship with Marianne Faithfull. She claimed that she told Jagger "wild horses couldn't drag me away" upon awakening from a drug-induced coma in 1969. Years later, Jerry Hall (Jagger's longtime girlfriend) claimed that "Wild Horses" was her most beloved Stones tune, despite the fact that Mick had written it for his wife Bianca.

*Labelle is the group that launched the career of lead vocalist Patti LaBelle. They recorded several records together in the early to mid-'70s, and have often reunited for various projects/performances since their split in 1976. A complete history can found here.

Supplemental Materials:

For my last covers post, I included a couple of Rolling Stones remixes as bonus mp3s. This time, I decided to feature some remakes of Radiohead's material. I have discussed my unabashed respect for the group in previous posts, and found that I was not alone in my admiration for their undeniable impact on contemporary music. Their material has been reworked in a variety of different ways, so understand that these selections are not even beginning to skim the surface...

Bonus mp3s (zShare only):

"Side B"---Greenhouse Effect vs. Radiohead
These Def Jukies out of Columbus, OH haven't always impressed me with their output, but I can't live without the flipside of the Greenhouse Effect vs. Radiohead 12". Ridiculously emo, but the lyrics fit perfectly with the fuzzy vibe of Radiohead's spaced-out melancholia.

"Paranoid Android (DJ Panzah Zandahz Remix)"---Radiohead
A phenomenal instrumental remix from the Me & This Army: Radiohead Mashup mixtape.

High And Dry---Bilal (Radiohead cover)
Despite their seemingly disparate musical styles, Bilal did an stellar job revisiting "High And Dry" for the Radiohead Remixed CD.

Word From Your Moms:

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”---William Faulkner


Deni said...

Food for our souls!
Thank you

HeavySoulBrutha DaveB. said...

Nice ONE! Another MONSTER post. Thanks so much! That Freddie King vid is the business! I'm a big Beatles guy, so that Willie Bobo hit the spot. I've really gotta get down on more of his stuff. I've only got a few tracks. And I love the Labelle version of "Wild Horses". Their cover of Cat Stevens' "Moon Shadow" is one of the best covers EVER! Dig IT!

Peace and SOUL,

Anonymous said...

wow.. i love it!!
too bad the 'high and dry' doesn't work.. could you fix it, pleeeease?

best, paula

Lily Kane said...

yes fix high and dry i must have it! another amazing post, thank youuu

Scholar said...

Deni---Thanks for the props. I stopped by your blog for a minute and it looks like you've got a nice mixture of stuff over there. I'll stop by again soon.

Dave---Gratitude for your kind words. This was a pretty big post for me in terms of time spent on research and searching for quality photos and videos. I do it for the love of music, but getting some positive feedback helps me stay energized.

I like Labelle's version of "Moon Shadow" a lot, too. I was raised on the Cat Stevens version, so their take kinda rocked my world. Freddie King was a powerhouse---just been getting into his stuff in the past year or so.

Be well, Dave. Glad you came by.

Paula---Sorry about that...the link is fixed now.

Lily--Thanks. I almost just mailed the song to you because I'll be writing you soon about our little project anyway. You're the best, Lils ;)

The Stepfather of Soul said...

"Hard Times" IS a cover. The song was recorded by Gene Chandler as "In My Body's House," his last single for Checker from around 1969. I featured it on the blog a long time ago, and it also appears on Episode #12 of the "Get on Down ..." podcast.

Scholar said...

Jason---Thank you for explaining that whole thing. I actually first heard that track on a Chicago soul compilation. After doing research on Baby Huey and consulting a website on Secondhand Songs, I cocluded that Chandler's version must have come later. Thanks for the info.

For anyone who actually reads the comments and wants a copy of Chandler's version, here's the mp3:

Scholar said...

Errr...that would be conclude...ahem...

soulbrotha said...

Great stuff as usual!

Off topic, I have a question: Have there ever been any Halloween songs recorded by soul artists? I don't think I've ever seen any.


Anonymous said...

Hey Scholar.
Took me a minute to get through this post with kids and all, but it was definitely worth the wait ~ fantastic as usual. Still thinking about Bobby Byrd's version of When Something Is Wrong With My Baby...stuck on the's what I grew up with, but this one is O.K., too.
High and Dry was absolutely icing on the cake for this post. Keep it coming master mind.


floodwatch said...

This is exactly why I stop by here, Scholar - this post is all kinds of lovely. Hope you're doing well.

Commish CH said...

yo brah, this ish is solid, just plain great work.
Two comments/questions from over here:
One- old school heads may remember Smooth Ice sampled Sam & Dave "Hold On..." on his debut CD in 1990.
Two- I never knew there was actuall a Willie Bobo. Pete Nice had a track "Kick the Bobo" and even referred to "kick the Willie Bobo." For some reason I always though it meant drinking heavy. Any thoughts to the meaning?

Scholar said...

soulbrotha---I'm pretty terrible at thinking along conceptual lines. I can think of lots of ghost and devil tracks. There were a ton of blues joints about ghosts, and much of Screamin' Jay's material was kinda spooky. "Halloween In Harlem" by Sun Ra just came to mind, but space jazz wasn't really your question, now was it?

Larry Grogan always comes up with a few choice rarities--his Halloween mix this year is great:

If I start compiling now, maybe I'll have some things to rattle your bones and shake your teeth by next year ;)

PK---Thanks for the feedback. Covers and remixes can take a while to sink in, so hopefully the Bobby Byrd track grows on you.

Bilal is one of the few so-called neo-soul artists who I find interesting. Glad you liked his take on "High And Dry".

Flood---It's always significant to me when you like a post. Makes me think I'm doing something right when you have some positive feedback for me.

We should get in touch soon---been way too long my man.

Commish---Thanks for the props. Your Bobo question is a good one. Bobo was renowned for being a percussionist, so it might be synonymous with kickin' some drum loops. I only have a couple of Bobo records, so it's possible too that there's a sample of his material on the joint. I read before that the Dust to Dust LP had a lot of uncredited samples. In '93, it still wasn't as commonplace to be sued for jackin' loops, so it's hard to tell what Nice might have thrown into his beat blend. The only jazz artist I remember seeing in the liner notes was Cannonball Adderley, but I don't even have my copy anymore.

Hopefully someone else will weigh in if they know the answer, because I've got nothin' but bullshit on that one.

I do think, however, that your T-shirt might have influenced your supposition that drinkin' had something to do w/ it..haha...

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