What's crackin', soul kids?
I was inspired to deliver an especially fat post today, if for no other reason than to dispel the myth that I kevorked the On Second Thought/Cover Your Ass chronicles. I may be incorrigible...and lazy...but did you really think I'd be insensitive enough to hijack a series rivaled only by Souled On Samples in terms of overall popularity and...ummm...sex appeal???
Anyway, I genuinely hope that you will....uhhhh...shake your booty down to these fine selections, but...you know...I'm kinda relieved at the same time that I don't have to watch.
Forever spinnin' out of control,
"California Dreaming"---Lee Moses (LimeLinx)
"California Dreaming"---Lee Moses (YSI)
*Written by John & Michelle Phillips; originally recorded by Barry McGuire for his This Precious Time LP. The Mamas & The Papas sang backing vocals on his rendition, subsequently releasing their own version as a 7" in November 1965.
McGuire was responsible for the group's first major break, as he connected them with Lou Adler, the producer and head of Dunhill Records. Adler likened his initial reaction to how George Martin must have felt upon discovering The Beatles, although he admits that the foursome were "very dirty and funky and had probably been in those clothes for quite a while." Ultimately, the group offered "California Dreamin'" to McGuire as gratitude for the opportune hook-up with Adler.
*The song did not achieve instantaneous success for The Mamas & The Papas. It was erroneously assumed that the song would be a hit in Los Angeles, but it actually was blessed with its breakthrough moment via a radio station in Boston. By early 1966 the song had peaked at #4, remaining on the pop charts for a total of 17 weeks.
*According to John Phillips, the song came to him as a dream in 1963 and he woke Michelle up to help him write it. The couple was living in New York at the time, and were members of the folk group The New Journeymen.
There's a longstanding rumor that Phillips wrote the song during his tenure at the United States Naval Academy, dreaming of warmer climates while enduring a harsh winter with short daylight hours. There doesn't appear to be any veracity to this claim whatsoever.
*The Mamas & The Papas broke up in 1968 due to what might be dubbed the Fleetwood Mac effect: drug abuse and complex interpersonal relationship issues. All four members released solo efforts, but none of their individual offerings fared nearly as well as "California Dreaming".
After disbanding, the group occasionally reunited until "Mama" Cass Elliot passed away. Elliot died, not of choking on a ham sandwich (as rumored), but of heart failure. She was staying in Harry Nilsson's flat in Mayfair, London at the time of her death. Strangely enough, Keith Moon (drummer for The Who) passed away four years later in Nilsson's flat as well. Apparently, Nilsson rented the property out to his friends during his sometimes lengthy absences. After Moon's death transpired in the same exact room as Elliot's, Nilsson was understandably spooked and immediately sold the flat to Keith's former bandmate, Pete Townsend.
*While the song has been covered by a wide range of artists (The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Bobby Womack, The Four Tops, José Feliciano, George Benson, and more), Lee Moses recorded the only version as far as I'm concerned. I posted this track a long time ago, but I'm pretty sure the link is dead and it's supreme excellence makes it more than worthy of revisitation.
"That's How Strong My Love Is"---Laura Lee (LimeLinx)
"That's How Strong My Love Is"---Laura Lee (YSI)
*Written by Roosevelt Jamison; originally recorded by O.V. Wright and released as a 7" b/w "There Goes My Used To Be" (Goldwax, 1964)
*Although his rendition wasn't exactly a chartbuster (peaking at a modest #74), Otis Redding released what many consider to be the definitive version of the tune in 1965.
*The Rolling Stones also covered the track later that same year on their Out Of Our Heads LP. Redding reciprocated by recording a version of one of The Stones' most beloved songs, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
*Other takes on the song have been rendered by Percy Sledge, The Hollies, The Sweet Inspirations, Bryan Ferry, Humble Pie, Iggy Pop, Taj Mahal, and more.
*Laura Lee released her phenomenal rendition of "That's How Strong My Love Is" on her Women's Love Rights LP in 1972 (Hotwax, HA 708). Her unique style, gritty vocals, and willingness to tackle women's issues in a frank and uncontrite manner set her apart from many of her female contemporaries in the '60s and '70s. Without a doubt, the most enthralling and educational exploration of her legacy comes by way of my friend Colin's blog, Ms. Laura Lee: Dedicated to the Lady of Soul Music.
"Let Me Down Easy"---Cold Blood (LimeLinx)
"Let Me Down Easy"---Cold Blood (YSI)
*Written by Wreich-Holloway, an alias for Dee Dee Ford; originally recorded by Bettye LaVette and released as a 7" b/w "What I Don't Know (Won't Hurt Me)" in 1965 (Calla 102).
*"Let Me Down Easy" became LaVette's signature song (climbing to #20 on the Billboard charts), and has long been revered by Northern soul enthusiasts as one of the finest records of all time.
*LaVette has spoken rather candidly about what inspired her to lay down such stirring vocals on the track:
"When I was recording the vocal, the guy I was thinking about came into the control room, so I was singing the song to him. When we finished recording, everyone in the control room was in tears: except him."
*LaVette re-recorded the song in Detroit in 1990 and she was captured on film in the studio. It always fascinates me how effortlessly she belts out songs~ she inexplicably stays cooler than a fan, showing no visible sign of strain even when hitting her high notes. Not to mention the fact that she's seriously workin' those stunna shades...
*It's pretty much a soul commandment that thou shalt not place any covers of "Let Me Down Easy" before LaVette's stunning original. I can get down with that...I mean, I'm not hatin' on Steve Winwood, but I wish he hadn't gone there. That said, I'm unashamed to admit that I adore Cold Blood's rendition of the song. Lead singer Lydia Pense has always gotten the same dismissive once-over that many soul enthusiasts give Janis Joplin, but it's difficult to deny that Lydia has a whole lot of heart. I would gladly give away my mother-in-law to have seen the show Cold Blood did with the Ike & Tina Review, but then again~ I'm not sure that's much of a sacrifice.
"The Rip (Hidden Cat Remix)"---Portishead (LimeLinx)
"The Rip (Hidden Cat Remix)"---Portishead (YSI)
*Written by Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley; released both as a single and on Portishead's Third LP. The song was originally called "Mystic".
*The animated promotional video for "The Rip" (created by Nick Uff) is pretty fuckin' strange. I can assure you that even if you happened to...ahem...drop a ridiculous amount of acid in the '90s, you may still not possess the expansiveness of imagination to fully comprehend what's going on here:
*Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke performed an acoustic cover of the track backstage in St. Louis last year. In addition to exorcising his everyday demons, Thom Yorke may also be lamenting the fact that his hair stylist obviously doesn't love him anymore:
*Hidden Cat (aka Madison Bullard) hails from Raleigh, NC. His redux of "The Rip" is easily one of the illest remixes I've heard so far this year. More about Hidden Cat here.
"Heaven and Hell"---El Michels Affair (LimeLinx)
"Heaven and Hell"---El Michels Affair (YSI)
*Written by Corey Woods (aka Raekwon) and Dennis Coles (aka Ghostface Killah); the track was originally produced by RZA and contains a sample of Syl Johnson's "Could I Be Falling In Love?"; Blue Raspberry performed the backing vocals
*"Heaven and Hell" was Raekwon's solo debut single, released in October 1994. The joint later appeared on his Only Built For Cuban Linx LP, an album that's highly exalted by hip hop heads worldwide.
*El Michels Affair, a collective of ridiculously talented musicians based in New York, were approached by Scion in 2005 with the possibility of performing with Raekwon for their Metro concert series. The collaboration made for such a perfect synthesis that the group went on tour with the MC, as well as doing several live performances with other members of the Wu-Tang Clan. In 2006, El Michels headed into the studio to begin recording their instrumental interpolations of classic Wu beats, ultimately releasing singles as part of the Shaolin Soul series on Truth & Soul Records.
I've been trying to draw attention to these guys for years, and the release of their complete album of Wu covers on Fat Beats provides yet another opportunity to give these guys a well-deserved shout. So far, this is my favorite release of 2009~ hands down. Resist the temptation to grab a bootleg version...it's more than worth the purchase price. There are so few artists producing authentic soul music these days that we need to support those who are struggling to keep the art form alive and prosperous.
"Cash Run (The White Stripes + Notorious B.I.G. & 2Pac)"---Adrian Champion (LimeLinx)
"Cash Run (The White Stripes + Notorious B.I.G. & 2Pac)"---Adrian Champion (YSI)
*"Runnin' (Dying to Live)" by 2Pac and Biggie was the first single issued from the posthumous soundtrack album Tupac: Resurrection in 2003. The track was produced by Eminem, and featured a sample of Edgar Winters' "Dying To Live".
Pac and B.I.G. originally recorded the track in 1994, but it was produced by Easy Mo Bee and was called "Runnin' (From The Police)".
*"Cash Grab Complications" by The White Stripes appears as the B-side to the acoustic mariachi version of "Conquest".
*Adrian Champion was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but relocated to California shortly after high school to pursue his creative aspirations. His many talents include rapping, producing, composing, singing, playing guitar, and songwriting. Although he's been a lifelong fan of hip hop, he's fully committed to pushing the boundaries of his creativity by continuously switching up his style and experimenting with fresh ideas.
Stars & Stripes: The White Stripes Reimagined, a dope collection of mashup mixes, can be downloaded for free here. Learn more about the making of the project and stay up on Champion's latest endeavors via his website.
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"---Bobby Bryant (LimeLinx)
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"---Bobby Bryant (YSI)
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"---The Breeders (LimeLinx)
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"---The Breeders (YSI)
*Written by Lennon/McCartney ; it was originally recorded by The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios in September 1968. The song was released on The Beatles LP, also known as The White Album in November 1968.
*The working title of the song was "Happiness Is a Warm Gun in Your Hand".
*The track is Paul McCartney's favorite on the album.
*In describing what inspired him, Lennon claims to have seen a magazine cover bearing the song title in the form of a phrase. He was quoted as saying "it was a gun magazine. I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something."
*As is the case with most Beatles songs, there are plenty of rumors that have circulated to explain the song's underlying meaning. One tale asserts that the track was a metaphor for Lennon's sexual desire for Yoko One, to which I say...puke. Others seem to believe that the song references Lennon's heroin usage, which is seemingly substantiated by the repetition of the line "I need a fix cuz I'm goin' down". This theory may not hold much weight because muthafuckas claim that every Beatles song ever written contained a subliminal drug reference. Also, if Lennon's assertions are to be believed, his preference was to snort smack, not shoot it. The loaded gun reference seems to more likely imply the use of a syringe.
*Donating to the National Trust (a memorable phrase in the song) means pooping in a toilet.
*The song's multiple sections allegedly inspired Radiohead to break "Paranoid Android" on OK Computer into three distinct parts. After struggling significantly with perfecting the song's complicated arrangement, the Beatles finally fused the first half of one take with the second half of another to complete the full song. It apparently took around 100 takes to record the track to their liking.
*The BBC banned the song on the grounds of sexual symbloism, concluding that the gun must be some sort of phallic symbol.
*Artists who've recorded or performed this song live include Guns N' Roses, Tori Amos, U2, World Party and Phish.
*Happiness Is A Warm Gun" appears on Bobby Bryant's Earth Dance LP (World Pacific Jazz, 1968). The Breeders' version was released 22 years later on their Pod LP (4AD, 1990).
Obviously these two interpretations are very different in terms of their stylistic approach, but I love them both equally, depending on my mood.
"Foxy Lady (Rob Tex Remix)"---Jimi Hendrix (LimeLinx)
"Foxy Lady (Rob Tex Remix)"---Jimi Hendrix (YSI)
*Written and originally recorded by Jimi Hendrix; first released on his Are You Experienced LP in 1967.
*The US/Canadian version of Are You Experienced had a typo on the track listing~ the song name was erroneously printed as "Foxey Lady". To this day, fans in North America still recognize the song by its misprinted title.
*Hendrix was quoted as saying this was the only happy song he had ever written.
*Rolling Stone magazine placed the track at #152 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
*"Foxy Lady" has been covered by a wide array of artists including Cee-Lo Green, Booker T & the MGs, The Cure, James Taylor & The New Mastersounds, Giant Sand, and Paul Rodgers and Company.
*Does anyone know who the hell Rob Tex is? This man, vegetable, or mineral (whichever the case may be) has done some interesting re-edits and mashes of material by Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson, too. He keeps a lower profile than I do though, and that's just wrong. He could be a fugitive, a masked phantom, or another one of Madlib's undercover aliases---who knows? Guess it doesn't really matter...this mix is pretty tight no matter what.
"Thriller (Instrumental)"---Speak Low (LimeLinx)
"Thriller (Instrumental)"---Speak Low (YSI)
*Written by Rod Temperton; originally recorded by Michael Jackson and released on his Thriller LP.
Temperton, once a member of the group Heatwave, also penned "Off The Wall" and "Rock With You" for Jackson.
*The track was produced by Quincy Jones and features a soliloquy from Vincent Price. The special edition version of the song released in 2001 features additional verses by Vincent Price that were cut from the final edit of the original.
Price was apparently given the option of taking $20,000 outright for his ghoulish rap or receiving royalties based on a percentage of the record's sales. Price opted for the $20,000, a decision which effectively cost him millions in lost revenue.
*Two working titles for the song were "Starlight Love" and "Starlight Sun".
*The track peaked at #4 on the US charts, and climbed to #10 in the UK.
*The 14-minute video for the track is considered by many to be the greatest of all time.
*The song has been sampled by numerous hip hop artists, such as Kool Moe Dee, Large Professor, Quasimoto, Public Enemy, NWA, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, and Biz Markie just to name a few.
*"Thriller" has also been covered by Ten Masked Men, Aerogramme, and Joe Dolce.
*Speak Low's jazz-funk homage to the MJ classic is a killer Hammond-driven remake that your dancin' feet can't help but appreciate.
"I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby"---Kellee Patterson (LimeLinx)
"I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby"---Kellee Patterson (YSI)
*Written, recorded and originally performed by Barry White; the song appeared on his 1973 debut album I've Got So Much to Give
*In the early parts of his musical career, White showed very little interest in being a recording artist. Producing, arranging, and writing songs for Felice Taylor, Viola Wills, and Love Unlimited, White had already established a viable career for himself behind the scenes.
One fateful night, however, he recorded himself singing a tune that would later be known as "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby". It crossed his mind that it might be plausible for him to record the song as an artist, but he was initially somewhat skeptical. After some time passed, White played it for Larry Nunes, his business partner, who subsequently spent the better part of two months encouraging him to record the track.
White eventually relented, and as the fairy tale ending goes, the song became a blockbuster hit. Selling more than a million copies, "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby" rose to #3 on the Billboard pop charts and occupied the top position on the R&B charts for two weeks in a row.
*The immensely popular track has been sampled on joints by De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, NWA, Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, Too Short, etc.
*Cookie Monster once parodied this on Sesame Street, calling his version "Me Going to Munch You, Munch You, Munch You". He was, of course, expertly backed by The Crumbs Unlimited Orchestra:
*Kellee Patterson's take on the track is pretty damn impressive as far as I'm concerned. My amigo DJ Prestige did a thorough write-up about her cover over at Flea Market Funk, so head over there to check out the interesting backstory.
"Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)"---New Birth (LimeLinx)
"Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)"---New Birth (YSI)
*Written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed; originally released by The Stylistics as a single and appeared on their 1971 self-titled LP.
*The song peaked at #39 on the pop charts and #6 on the R&B charts in the US.
*Many consider the definitive version of this song to be the rendition by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross which appeared on their 1973 duet album (Diana & Marvin). They also covered "You Are Everything" on the LP, another track that was originally recorded by The Stylistics.
The duo actually recorded this particular song, as well as many of the others from the LP, in separate studios. During the first sessions, Ross reportedly got pissed off at Gaye for refusing to stop smoking in the studio, so Berry Gordy arranged for them to record in different locations.
*Other renditions of the song have been rendered by Barbara Acklin, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Mathis, and Michael MacDonald. New Birth's 1973 remake is my hands down favorite, appearing on their stupendous Birth Day LP.
"Whiter Shade Of Pale (Live)"---King Curtis (LimeLinx)
"Whiter Shade Of Pale (Live)"---King Curtis (YSI)
*Written by Keith Reid and Gary Brooker; originally recorded by Procol Harum and released on their 1967 self-titled debut.
The group's organist, Matthew Fisher, claims to have co-authored the song despite the fact that he was not listed in the songwriting credits. There has been a lengthy court battle over the matter for the past few years. There seems to be some validity to Fisher's claims of co-authorship, yet his right to royalties has been ruled against on the grounds that it took him 38 years to seek compensation. In November 2008, Fisher was granted permission to appeal this decision in the House of Lords~ as far as I know, the matter is still pending.
*The music in the song was heavily inspired by J.S. Bach (check "Sleepers, Wake!" and "Air on a G String" if you don't believe me).
*When the song was released, it hit the top of the charts in several countries around the globe. Rolling Stone magazine placed it at #57 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
*The curious lyrics were penned by Keith Reid, who has often scoffed at the idea that the song carries an overwhelming amount of literary baggage. Critics have mentally masturbated over the subject matter for decades, but in all reality, most of the stoned hippies who purchased this record probably didn't give a fuck if the lyrics referenced Chaucer, Milton, and/or Roman mythology. I mean, hey~ "sixteen vestal virgins" sound pretty groovy either way, right?
*There have been nearly a thousand known covers of this song, but few hold weight against King Curtis' sublime take on the track which appeared on his Live at Fillmore West LP. The album brilliantly showcases the saxophonist's prodigious talent, but regretfully, it was released only a week before the musician was stabbed to death outside his apartment on New York's Upper West Side.
In case ya ain't heard, my homeskillet Has-Lo dropped his remix project, You Can Live Thru Anything If Magic Made It, a few weeks ago at WYDU. I've pimped, exposed, and shamelessly endorsed Lo's music enough times that you should know by now how highly I think of his skills. If you want to cop some ill remixes at the amazingly low price of...free...stop by Trav's spot (at the link above) to get your download on...
Word From Your Moms:
"He reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there's another dog."
"It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning."
"Truly to sing, that is a different breath."
"All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood."
~all above quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke