Welcome to part four of an ongoing series of freaky, funky, cool, and occasionally downright weird cover songs! A great cover can not only put a smile on our faces by delivering a familiar song in a new light, but also show another side of the performer's personality.
First off is this amazing, funky take on Dolly Parton's masterpiece, "Jolene". Gloria Ann Taylor is a relatively mysterious singer from Toledo, OH with a MASSIVE voice. Matching this song to her was a brilliant move by her and producer (and husband) Walt Whisenhunt. I'm guessing this record was probably released sometime around 1975, as Dolly's original version came out in '74. This version still retains the paranoid feel of Dolly's original recording, but adds a far more menacing vibe as well.
Keeping it within the female vocal bag, here's another excellent female soul piece in this fantastic reading of (Chicago soul pioneer) Jerry Butler's collaboration with (Philadelphia
soul architects) Gamble & Huff soul classic. The Shirelles is a name that is virtually synonmous with girl groups, and by 1969 (the year of this release) the group had been recording for over ten years and also added Shirley's name as top billing. The quartet was reduced to a trio by 1968, but those heavenly harmonies are still as full as ever on this track. The group continued on until 1973, leaving behind a legacy of some 55 singles!
I'm a massive fan of Simon & Garfunkel, and always loved this freaky and downright disturbing song from their excellent Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme LP from 1967. The song captures the paranoid side of the '60's counterculture in a brilliant way. The Joyride from L.A was probably a studio concotion- this is their second single from 1968 (the first, the previous year, was a cover of the Doors ballad "The Crystal Ship'). I really dig how the groups changes the rhythm into something less jarring than the original version of the song here but still captures the stoned paranoia heard on the Simon & Garfunkel track. have confused the Blocking Shoes for The Shocking Blue, but The Karmeys do a VERY convincing take on "Last Night" that could just about fool me until the spoken European accent gives us the spoken "ahhhh Last Night' that differentiates it from The Mar-Keys original take. Turns out that this is a French release (I found my copy in Brussels)
Finally, here's a downright bizarre Spanish take on The Shocking Blue's freakbeat classic "Venus". If the band or the label were trying to cash in on The Shocking Blue's success, why have a male singer??? Anyhow, it's a fun version with some killer Hammond organ and fuzz tone guitar. However, the vocals are nowhere near the majesty of powerhouse Mariska Veres.
Until next time! Derek See