Friday, April 18, 2008

Do You Know The First Thing About Music? Part 2

As promised, here is the second installment of original songs that became more famous after they were covered by other artists. If nothing else, I had to revisit the concept so I could see how long it takes this genius to plagiarize my entire post again. Damn...I'm all about peace and love, but some peoples are just downright uncivilized, ya know?

Today's post is dedicated with respect to the genuine soul children in the know who you are.

Be easy, kids...

"Tainted Love"---Gloria Jones (zShare)

"Tainted Love"---Gloria Jones (savefile)

*Written by Ed Cobb, a musician, songwriter, record producer, and sound engineer. He was affiliated with a wide array of artists in some capacity or another, including The Four Preps, The Standells, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Brenda Holloway, and Steely Dan.

*Gloria Jones became fully immersed in the music business as a backing vocalist for many popular artists, including Etta James, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Phil Spector, and Jerry Garcia. She was also a songwriter, penning tunes for Motown acts such as The Jackson 5, The Commodores, and The Four Tops.

*In 1964, Jones released the original version of "Tainted Love", a slice of northern soul that ultimately met with greater success in the UK than it did in the United States.

*Jones joined the group T. Rex in 1973 or '74 (depending on whose account you believe), playing keyboards, clavinet and assuming background vocal duties. She became romantically linked with the group's lead singer Marc Bolan, with whom she had a child in 1975 (model/musician Rolan Bolan). Marc Bolan played guitar and assisted with the songwriting on Jones' Vixen LP, released in 1976. One of the more memorable moments on the album was a revamped version of "Tainted Love". Jones has always been forthright in admitting that she didn't particularly care for the song in its original form.

*Jones' life changed drastically in September of 1977 when she crashed into a tree, and was subsequently accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. Bolan died instantly in the passenger seat, and Jones sustained numerous injuries, but recuperated during hospitalization and managed to survive the incident.

Although Jones is generally vilified as a result of this unfortunate event, it's been reported that both parties were drinking at least moderately on the night of the accident. Although Bolan is known to have had somewhat of a fascination with cars (they were the subject matter in many of his songs), he never had a driver's license and adamantly refused to get behind the wheel.

Another point of interest: the license plate on the vehicle Jones was driving that fateful day was FOX 661L. It's a bit creepy, but Bolan's song "Solid Gold Easy Action" (1972) contains the following lyrics: "Life is the same and it always will be, easy as picking foxes from a tree,", eerily foreshadowing some of the tragedy's specific details. The sycamore tree the couple crashed into now acts as a shrine memorializing Bolan and is still frequently visited by his fans.

At the time of the accident, the couple had been residing in the UK, but Jones soon relocated to Los Angeles with their son, apparently evading the allegations she faced in the UK. After achieving minor musical success in the 1990s, Jones moved to Africa, where she currently runs an orphanage based in Sierra Leone.

*In the early '80s, "Tainted Love" became a huge hit for the group Soft Cell. Their version appeared on their Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret LP, reaching #8 on the U.S. charts and #1 in the UK. In 2006, the SC rendition was sampled on Rihanna's "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)".

*Other covers of this tune have been rendered by Marilyn Manson, Ruth Swann, Coil, Inspiral Carpets, Paul Young, and many more.

"(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me"---Lou Johnson (zShare)

"(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me"---Lou Johnson (savefile)

*Music written by Burt Bacharach; lyrics by Hal David

*Despite having cut some very good soul records, Lou Johnson remains a relatively unknown figure in popular music history. Johnson's first signing as a solo artist was with the Big Top label in New York. During his tenure there, he teamed up with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who provided the uptown soul singer with some very promising tunes in their formative years as a songwriting duo. Despite the possibilities inherent in their collaboration, Johnson was plagued by a series of career misfortunes. For example, his recording of "Reach Out For Me" essentially flopped, while Dionne Warwick's cover turned the song into a commercial success. "Kentucky Bluebird (Send a Message to Martha)" didn't even crack the Hot 100 for Johnson, yet when British teen idol Adam Faith revisited the tune, it became a chartbusting hit.

"(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" ended up being Johnson's most successful recording, but it reached its peak in 1964 at #49. Hopeful that the single may be more appealing to soul fans in the UK, Bacharach arranged for Johnson to perform the song on the British television show Top Of The Pops. Johnson failed to establish a strong fan base as a result of the appearance, but Sandie Shaw enjoyed a #1 hit in the UK when she released her cover of the song later that same year.

Johnson would later be signed to both Cotillion and Volt, but significant fame and fortune would continue to elude him . He maintained a bit of a cult following and became somewhat of a fixture on the LA club circuit, but his career as a studio recording artist came to a halt in the early '70s.

*Bacharach and David were working with Dionne Warwick at same time they were trying to assist Johnson with establishing his career. She was allegedly the first to record the tune, but only for demonstration purposes. Eventually, this first take was rearranged and re-recorded, being officially released in 1967 as the B-side to her "Who Is Gonna Love Me" single.

*In addition to Sandie Shaw's cover, other versions of "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" were offered by Brenda Lee, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells, Barbara Mason, The Stylistics, Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, R.B. Greaves, Johnny Mathis, José Feliciano, Stanley Turrentine, and more. The group Naked Eyes released a very popular cover that peaked at #8 in the U.S. in 1983. Their rendition can still be heard to this very day on an elevator near you. I ain't gonna lie, though. That shit used to be my...ummm...jam.

"Hard To Handle"---Otis Redding (zShare)

"Hard To Handle"---Otis Redding (savefile)

*Written by Otis Redding

*As I mentioned when I posted Patti Drew's cover of this song, Redding's original version of this song wasn't released until the year after his death.

*Unlike many of the other artists featured here, Redding's music is hardly an obscurity amongst popular music fans. However, that certainly doesn't mean that none of his songs became more commercially viable in the hands of other artists. As just one example, consider that everyone and their mama associates "Respect" with Aretha Franklin, despite the fact that Redding wrote and originally recorded the song.

"Hard To Handle" has endured a somewhat similar fate. Otis' version of the song peaked at #51 on the popular music charts in the U.S., while The Black Crowes revisited the tune more than two decades later, when it climbed to #26.

*Other covers of this song have been rendered by The Grateful Dead, Etta James (in her Otis medley), Tony Joe White, Andrew Strong, Dynamo's Rhythm Aces, and more.

"You're No Good"---Dee Dee Warwick (zShare)

"You're No Good"---Dee Dee Warwick (savefile)

*Written by Clint Ballard, Jr.

*Forever relegated to the shadows of her superstar sister, Dee Dee Warwick is yet another artist whose enormous talent never fully blossomed into commercial viability.

After singing in gospel outfits and recording as a backing vocalist, Dee Dee began cutting her own records in 1963, when she released the original version of "You're No Good" (Jubilee 5459). Although the track was produced by the celebrated duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the record failed to properly launch her solo career. It likely didn't help matters that Betty Everett released a rendition of the tune that same year, especially considering that her cover met with some modest success on the charts. To this day, Betty Everett is often mistakenly cited as the artist who released the original version of the song.

Over the course of her recording career, Dee Dee did manage to crack the R&B Top 20 a few times. However, she still qualifies as an underappreciated soul artist in my book blog. It seems she never had a chance to truly flourish in the spotlight, having been eclipsed by not only her sister, but by Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, and a host of other beloved soul sisters who were on the scene at the time. It's largely a matter of personal opinion whether the oversight was due to Warwick lacking superstar qualities, or the fault of the music industry for not backing her with enough promotional weight.

For those wishing to dig deeper into her career, Dee Warwick: The Collection LP (pictured above) makes for a worthy introduction.

*"You're No Good" has also been covered by artists such as Van Halen, José Feliciano, Elvis Costello, and Wilson Phillips.

Undoubtedly, the most popular rendition was sung by Linda Rondstadt, who had a #1 single with the tune in 1975. I've never particularly been a fan of Rondstadt's music ("Blue Bayou" might just make my list of the worst songs of all time), so I think I'll shut up before I type something stupid.

"Harlem Shuffle"---Bob and Earl (zShare)

"Harlem Shuffle"---Bob and Earl (savefile)

*Written by Bob Relf and Earl Nelson; co-arranged by Barry White and Gene Page; produced by Fred Smith. Relf would later admit that the song was based on Round Robin's "Slauson Shuffletime", a tune that namechecked an avenue in Los Angeles. The duo decided to give the track a bit of a New York twist, and the rest is music history.

*They recorded the song in 1963 and it was was released as a 7" on the Marc label. It peaked at #44 on the pop charts, but its main success came upon re-release in the UK in 1969. The song rose to #7 on the UK charts, but by that time, the duo had already gone their separate ways. Nelson was recording under the alias Jackie Lee, and had enjoyed success with a hit dance record called "The Duck". The duo briefly reunited for a tour, but by the early '70s they had parted company once and for all.

*George Harrison of The Beatles once called their version of the song the greatest record of all time.

*The song was most famously sampled on House Of Pain's "Jump Around".

*The track has been covered by Booker T & The MG's, The Righteous Brothers, The Belle Stars, The Boogie Kings, and more.

Released on their Dirty Work LP and as a 7-inch single in 1986, The Rolling Stones issued what is undoubtedly the most well-known cover of the tune. Their incredibly popular rendition reached #5 on the U.S. charts and peaked at #13 in the UK.

A fact about their version you may not know...Bobby Womack and Tom Waits were two of the background singers on the track.

"Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)"---Lorraine Ellison (zShare)

"Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)"---Lorraine Ellison (savefile)

*Written by Jerry Ragovoy and Chip Taylor

*If Lorraine Ellison is remembered at all, it's usually for recording the original version of another song penned by Jerry Ragovoy, the oft-covered "Stay With Me" (Loma, 1966). Although she had previously charted with "I Dig You Baby" in 1965, "Stay With Me" reached #11 on the R&B charts and #64 on the pop charts. As legend has it, Ellison was blessed with a stroke of good fortune when Frank Sinatra cancelled a studio session, and she stepped in to record with an orchestra who'd been left hanging when Ol' Blue Eyes failed to appear.

Ellison had another modest hit in 1967 with "Heart Be Still", her last single that made any headway on the charts. She released "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" the following year, but the song failed to gain any recognition until Janis Joplin recorded it for her I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! LP (Columbia, 1969).

Lorraine Ellison's voice absolutely blows me away on some of her recordings. She was another exceptional vocalist who should be honored with a more prominent placement in music history. If you ever have a chance to pick up any of her material on vinyl or CD re-issue, I sincerely doubt you'd disagree. Her rendition of "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)" is damn good, but it's hardly her most stunning moment on wax. If you like this, you should love the rest.

"Fever"---Little Willie John (zShare)

"Fever"---Little Willie John (savefile)

*Written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell (under the pseudonym John Davenport); some sources suggest that Little Willie John co-wrote the tune, but this hasn't been confirmed to my satisfaction.

*Without doing an actual count, my guess is that I've posted more versions of "Fever" than any other song I've ever featured on these pages. Why? I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I think of "Fever" as being one of the sexiest songs of all time. Its appeal on that level may be a bit understated in comparison to the vast of array of explicit bump-and-grind records I could obviously brand with that distinction, but for me, R. Kelly ain't got shit on Little Willie John. (I can think of a few lewd jokes I could crack right about now, but...ahem...guess I'll just leave that alone for the time being)

At any rate, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel and mention all of the cover versions there are of this tune. If you can read backwards, there's plenty of information about other renditions of this tune in previous posts. Instead, I'd prefer to do a brief introduction to Little Willie John for the benefit of the unfamiliar:

John was easily one of the most essential recording artists of the '50s and '60s. His gospel-tinged vocal style undoubtedly had a profound influence on the evolution of soul music, having been blessed with a voice that was far more powerful and mighty than his small stature (he was only 5'4") might suggest. He recorded for labels such as Savoy, Rama, Prize, and King, frequently enjoying hit records that crossed over from R&B into the popular music sector.

On March 1, 1956, John recorded the original version of "Fever" at King Records studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although the record was quite successful, Peggy Lee's cover would get more play on the radio and end up garnering a higher position on the popular charts. Many have contended that despite this, Little Willie John's version actually sold significantly more copies.

On May 18, 1966, John was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison for allegedly stabbing a man to death. He died in Washington State Prison on May 26, 1968. His official cause of death is listed as a heart attack, although conflicting reports suggest he died of pneumonia or asphyxiation. On December 19th of that same year, James Brown released an LP called Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things as a tribute to the deceased legend.

Fundamental Supplementalz:

In the first installment of the series, I briefly discussed the way that hip hop generally handles covers. As I said, it isn't commonplace within the genre for all of a song's elements to be duplicated from one artist to another. However, I mentioned that freestyling is one of the essentials of the game, in which MCs deliver improvisational lyrics over an instrumental version of a track previously recorded by another artist or crew. Here are a few prime examples:

"WPFW Freestyle (1994)"---Black Thought and Malik B of The Roots

"You Ain't A Killer '08/ Hot 97 Freestyle"---The Clipse/Re-Up Gang

"Stretch and Bobbito Freestyle"---OC/ Large Professor

When I mentioned last time that I was going to fire shots at an MC for dropping the same basic "freestyle" on 3 separate occasions, you probably never guessed that I was going to snitch on Jay-Z. My regular readers know that I've been a loyal Hov fan since day one, but right is right and wrong is dead fuckin' wrong. Judge for yourself, but I think his wordplay is a bit too similar to be considered off-the-dome:

"1991 Freestyle at Big Daddy Kane's B-Day Party"---Jay-Z

"1993 Freestyle"---Jay-Z

"1995 Freestyle w/ Big L on Stretch & Bobbito (Part 2)---Jay-Z
(*Yo...if you're offended by misogyny, violence and/or homophobia, you may want to skip over the first portion of this joint. Big L was a dope MC (R.I.P.), but he was known to get downright raw and ignorant at times. If you just want to hear Jay's verses, start listening at about 1 min. and 19 secs. into the track.


Vintage footage of Gloria Jones performing "Heartbeat" live:

A Gloria Jones performance from 1977, singing "Go Now". Marc Bolan introduces her at the beginning of the clip:

Word From Your Moms:

"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence."---Frederick Douglass


The Incredible Hawkes said...

Once again it's on! Dope post you can't go wrong with anything by Otis Redding he had some much energy it's ridiculous, as for Lil Willie John I don't think he'd get much shine if he tried to come out now but his version of Fever is pretty good. Props as always dude

Julie_Gong said...

oh man do i love gloria jones - tainted love. after hearing that none of the remakes even come close to doing it justice or evoking the feelings she does. so very good.

Commish CH said...

Very nice stuff my man. I never knew the sample from House Of Pain's Jump Around. I guess Muggs and em were true beat diggers.

Freestyle, big up for pointing out the true meaning of it. I HATE when cats "freestyle" in the BET booth or at your local radio station and their man is rhyming along with him! Freestyle my a**. Schooly Scholar, do you think Hov could come off the dome, ie hang in a true battle with someone?

Anonymous said...

Aren't the first notes of the Otis Redding tune the sample of "the symphony"? if so, is an update possible?

Bonus Beats said...

Wow! Your blog is amazing!

Anonymous said...

This is a great little series - keep 'em coming.

RK said...

God Scholar, this blog is the most dangerous drug, most dangerous...

Anonymous said...

Gloria Jones' video of 'Go Now' simply gave me chills. Love it.

I intend to stay true to the 'Word from your moms' quote this week. It's what empowers me and defines who I really am ;).

Always much love, Scholar

red one said...

Thanks again for the dropping all the music and the knowledge, Scholar. I;m enjoying Dee Dee and Little Willie John.

Special appreciation for the Douglass quote at the end. I've always thought he was a thinker ahead of his time (apart from his other achievements) and it is always good to see a quote of his pop up somewhere.

But I've got to admit I'm laughing at the thought of that bastard reproducing it at the end of a stolen post... heh.

They can't steal your class, your dignity or the big love and respect of your readers. And that's the truth.

tony li said...

imitation is the most sincere form of flattery scholar.

Scholar said...

Hawkes---I agree that Lil' Willie might not sell millions, but that's probably more a commentary on the industry than his talent. People buy Lil' Scrappy CDs---'nuff said.

Finally got you linked up, cousin.

Julie---I'm glad you like the Gloria Jones track, and I hope that interests you in seeking out more of her material. She was a stunning vocalist, and as much as I like her soulful rendition of "Tainted Love", it really doesn't showcase her range as much as some of her other work.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Commish---I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Muggs. He got into some trip-hoppy stuff on Dust a lot of heads failed to appreciate, but I admire his production skills.

As for Hov---I'm skeptical. You watch Fade To Black and think dude is rhymin' off the top like he's Biggie Smalls or some shit. I don't think most MCs can kick a truly improvisational freestyle these days. At this point, I'd be satisfied if he'd just put out another truly solid matter how long he takes to write it.

Anon 1---Yeah---Marley Marl sampled Otis' "Hard To Handle" on "The Symphony". When I'm doing posts other than Souled On Samples I don't always include the sampling history, but good lookin' out. What kind of update were you checkin' for?

bonus beats---Much gratitude. And by the way, Rowlf was the coolest Muppet (except for maybe Animal and Dr. Teeth).

anon 2---Yeah, I wasn't quite sure if I was going to keep posting these originals, but I've got lots more in the vaults. Seems pretty likely I'll be revisiting this theme.

rk---It's a dangerous drug for me, too...believe me. I'll try to make sure you don't have to go through withdrawl.

PK---Her version of "Go Now" gives me the chills, too. Remind me to play you some Moody Blues---their cover is the most famous. Bessie Banks did it originally, but that's for another installment. xo, girlie.

red one---Thanks for your kind words. I always appreciate hearing from you. I wasn't happy about the reproduction initially, especially because this sort of thing has happened several times. C'est la vie---the people who really matter to me know where it came from.

Tony---You're right, fam. See my comment above---I'm resigned to this sort of thing happening at this point.

Glad to know you're still hangin' around here once in a while. Hope you're well.

RK said...

Teach, here's a link to a mix that contains a classic I've been looking for for years: the instrumental version of WAR's 'The world is a ghetto'. Maybe you have it on your shelves somewhere, but I couldn't find it on your blog. I love this song, both the vocal and instrumental versions.

hiphopfanatik said...

Ssup everybody !

Great blog with some great lessons of hip-hop ... someone knows what was the song/artist that Large Professor sampled in "It ain't hard to tell" (Nas) ?? I'm not talkin' about Michael Jackson - Human Nature or the breakbeat which was used behind, but more precisely that gimmick looped twice who sounds " Hahaha ... " (a female voice) any help 's appreciated ...

Thanks in advance

Peace Ya'll

Anonymous said...

Put this in the comment box below this set. So, I'll repeat..Thanks for Gloria Jones and lou johnson. Great tracks that prove "the original is still the greatest."
One song you never see or hear is The Joker-Billy Myles. I think it was on Ember. It doesn't have anything to do with the Steve Miller song but the same name made me think of ity.
Thanks again for reminding everyone where a lot of music started.

Vincent the Soul Chef said...

You know there's a reason why you are the "Scholar"... I never knew the reason behind Marc Bolan's demise; I just assumed he suffered the same fate as many of Rock's legends from that era.

Again, you educate and enlighten, and I for one am better for the knowledge. BTW, thanks for the shares too. I've always wanted the original of "Tainted Love" and "Try Just A Little Bit Harder".

Peace and blessings.

The Incredible Hawkes said...

To RK : what's funny I saw The Roots last night and they opened up with War " The world is a ghetto " I'll try to find it for you dude

Sade said...

peace yall..check it out:

live mix by DJ Dmadness (Oakland, CA)
recorded at SF soul party Devil’s Pie
all vinyl selections
for download link

1 i will be your friend
2 smooth operator
3 slave song
4 hang on to your love
5 never as good as the first time
6 pearls (somalia mix)
7 paradise
8 turn my back on you
9 kiss of life
10 clean heart
11 cherry pie
12 war of the hearts
13 keep looking
14 the sweetest taboo
15 tar baby
16 love is stronger than pride (mad professor remix)
17 king of sorrow (guru remix)
18 cherish the day (ronin remix)
19 is it a crime
20 no ordinary love
21 by your side (the neptunes remix)
22 your love is king

styler said...

another fine wee selection sir, all good, apart from jay z, he is clearly at the wind up, droppin the same rhyme every two years.

as for the glorious ms jones, 'tainted love' is still a massive floor filler in the uk clubs, be it northern soul revivals or student disco hops, it's a winner! (follow up with spanky wilson's version of 'sunshine of your love', for a storming night!)

keep it dusty homeboy


Robert - Chicago said...

This blog is incredible, thanks for shining light on these songs, and for gems like Lou Johnson.

paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paul said...


I've been lazy on the comments for a while.

You are in rare form, many thanks.

Menahan Street Band album is going to ridic-town.


comprar yate said...

It can't work in actual fact, that's what I think.

viagra online said...

Gloria Jones were incredible! there's no doubt about it!