Welcome to a part two 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, we have a SMOLDERINGLY sexy take on the late-period Beatles track "Get Back" presented in a style that only Tina Turner can lay out. The band plays it pretty straight compared to the Beatles original, emphasizing the soulfulness of the original cut. for all his unspeakable nastiness, Ike was one hell of a guitarist and I'm relatively certain that's him taking the guitar breaks.
It took Oakland, CA's Pointer Sisters (June, Bonnie and Anita) quite a few years to hit their commercial peak, which hit in the late '70's and continued through the 80's. The sisters' earlier sides on Atlantic and Blue Thumb deliver some SERIOUS heat, as the sisters harmonies are gorgeous, and the assembled backing band kicks some serious ass. On this track, the sisters update the Willie Dixon vis KoKo Taylor classic and give it a superbad, funky 70's take that feels SO RIGHT. Not as majestic, frightening and mysterious as KoKo's original, but damn good nonetheless.
Ketty Lester is best known for 1962 hit "Love Letters In The Sand" which shows off her slick voice on a slick L.A production. By the end of the '60's after several unsuccesful records, ketty was one step away from leaving the music business to concentrate on an acting career. Her final single (released 1969, before a brief return to recording in '84) was this killer update of Joe Tex's "Show Me" (aka one of the greatest records ever made). While the musical arrangement is a tad slower but still swingin' (ala Tex' original), Ketty's smooth but soulful vocal adds a groovy, sassy and super sexy edge.
I'll leave you with a weird one. The What Four were an all female garage rock group, and are best known for their punky track "I'm Gonna Destroy That Boy". By the time of this '68 release, the young ladies seemingly took a cue from the dramatic and HEAVY soul reworkings as made de rigeur by The Vanilla Fudge. Slowing the tempo down to a crawl and adding some weird time shifts actually WORKS here, and makes for a cool listen and a bizarre study into how music was changing rapidly between the dance oriented years of mid-60's rock n roll into the "rock' of the late 60's which was far more appropriate for stoned musings and free form writhing.
Happy Birthday Ike Turner! (November 5, 1931 ~ December 12, 2007)
"Aired in 1959, here are Ike Turner & his Kings of Rhythm featuring Jimmy Thomas performing three popular song on that period on the "PARTY TIME" St. Louis TV show, produced by George Edick, the famed owner of the Club Imperial. Ike Turner & his Kings of Rhythm were the resident band."
"Charlie Brown has a hit in 1959 by the Coasters." "So Fine was a hit in 1959 by The Fiestas." "Splish Splash was a hit in 1958 by Bobby Darin."
Here's the final installment of my three-part series on the pre-Funkadelic productions of George Clinton. I've left out the Parliaments (plural) recordings from '67-'69, as they are relatively well known, amazing and easily obtained. Original copies of Pat Lewis' INCREDIBLE 1967 release "No One To Love" are nearly impossible to track down (no, I do not own an original, but this weird bootleg, probably pressed in the UK in the '80's). This record is a milestone in Detroit soul, and why it's so rare is a mystery (even a beat up copy will fetch over $2000). Perhaps it was hastily withdrawn; I have never heard a plausible explanation to its scraceness, but I can attest to its greatness.
No One To Love Clinton, along with the great J.J Barnes fully realized the soul potential found in the Beatles "Day Tripper" when this groundbreaking record was released in late '65, and they cut a VERY hard driving version to wax in '66. J.J's career, which begain in 1960, never achieved the fame that this exceptionally talented singer (and songwriter) so deserved.
This week's entry picks up more or less where I left off last week, though I'm not *exactly* in chronological order as I present these; merely arranged in a way that I feels tells the story of thse amazing records that in effect, show the birth of the P-Funk empire!
While J.J Barnes 1968 version of "Our Love (Is In The Pocket)" is the more revered version, the original take (1966) by Darrell Barnes is practically just as good! This is the b-side of Banks' debut single, and the song was co-written and co-produced by George Clinton.
Lewis' second solo release was written and produced exclusively by
Clinton, and Pat's vocals reach a new level of sultry and sexiness on
this recording. This track was also recorded by The Parliaments in 1968,
and while it's a cool version, it does not COME CLOSE to Pat Lewis'
magical performance of the song.
girl group The Debonaires knocked their 1967 recording of "Headache In
My heart" into another galaxy! This moody, stomping track is one of
Clinton's finest, and the influence of psychedelia is certainly seeping
into the potion by the time of this recording. The track was later
re-worked by Funkadelic s "Some More" on their 1970 LP "Free Your Mind
And Your Ass Will Follow". My UK copy shown here was issued a few years
later when the demand for obscure American soul records was starting to
become massive and fanatical. Too bad they couldn't be bothered to find
out who wrote the track!Headache In My Heart
Clinton used the expressiveness in Pat Lewis' voice to great effect; not only could Pat completely OWN an uptempo number, but she on "I'll Wait" (the b-side of "Warning", a classic with no Clinton involvement) she shows off her abilities with a moody, almost bluesy number.
I'll Wait There is some debate over this record by the all-white Detroit soul/ funk band The Flaming Ember; it has been reported that this two-sider marks the first appearance of (then teenaged) Eddie Hazel on lead guitar, and to my ears it *is* him. Eddie is one of the unsung geniuses of electric guitar, and the way the guitar playing is phrased so soulfully here, I firmly believe that Eddie is playing on the tracks, which truly sound like a dry run for Funkadelic!
After an initial couple of doo wop singles starting in 1958 (issued under the Parliaments name) while this visionary musician/ hairdresser was still a teenager, George Clinton seems to have sat out the first few years of the sixties musically and focused on running the barber shop which he co-owned in Plainfield, NJ.
Perhaps it was a new found connection in the music business or pure perservearance that brought Clinton to Detroit, but whatever it was, music is certainly a better place because of it.
After a few unreleased Motown sessions in 1964, The parliaments name was back in action for the incredible double sider "Heart Trouble b/w That Was My Girl" which was released on the "mini-Motown" Detroit label Golden World (in which George developed a strong relationship with for the next few years). 'heart trouble' shows that Clinton & company were ready for the soul era, with a sophisticated track that must have sounded incredibly modern at the time, but still with one foot rooted in doo wop. "That Was My Girl" is a great uptempo ballad that shows the groups' doo-wop roots in full flight. This record proves that George was full of unique creativity a few years before he was psychedelicized!The intro theme was later re-used (like so many of George's early work) as the intro to Funkadelic's "You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure".)