In the 6th volume of soul covers, we have the great Grady Tate’s interpretation of the Theme of M*A*S*H and versions of songs previously recorded by Gil Scott-Heron, Bob Dylan, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Elvis Presley, James Taylor, Righteous Brothers, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Joe South, Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival, James Brown, Cream, Peggy Lee, The Beatles, The Flamingos, Julie Andrews, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Billy Joel and Cat Stevens. Quite a mixed bag. This mix features a fair number of country songs remade as soul songs, showing how close the two genres are.
Some of the songs here get a thorough reworking here. Cat Stevens would not recognise his hippie-friendly Moonshadow in Labelle’s astonishing funky improv version. The Rotary Connection, featuring Minnie Riperton, take some liberties with Bob Dylan’s Like A Rollin’ Stone.
We have encountered some of the featured artists before. Among those we haven’t is Una Valli, South Africa’s queen of soul. Una certainly had a mighty voice and bagsful of soul. The irony, given her country of origin, is that Valli (who still performs) is white. I wrote about her recently on Star Maker Machine, in relation to her version of Yesterday (here).
Madeline Bell featured on Covered With Soul Vol 3. Her long career included stints in Blue Mink (of Melting Pot fame) and French disco group Space, and an appearance as backing singer at the Eurovision Song Contest. Well, a girl’s gotta work. And she still works, touring as a jazz singer from her domicile in Spain.
Alas, Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons did not enjoy such a productive career. Her outstanding Soul Fever album, whence this version of Fever came, was her only LP. Until its re-release on CD in 2008, it was one of the great rare soul albums. Nobody, it seems, knows anything about whatever happened to Marie Lyons.
Likewise, Bill Brandon never had the great career he might have had. We’ve previously encountered Brandon in the second instalment of the Murder Songs series. He also recorded only one full album, released in 1977. Ten years later he quit the music business for good and became a truck driver. He now apparently runs a nightclub.
Another act with a solitary album were the Blossoms (who featured in Vol. 5), yet they had a rich history as a backing act, singing vocals behind the likes of Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Jan & Dean and Paul Anka. Formed in the 1950s, among their original members was Gloria Jones (original singer of Tainted Love and the woman who survived the car crash that killed Marc Bolan) and Merry Clayton. Darlene Love joined the band in the late 1950s, and she appears on the 1972 album, alongside Jean King and founder member Fanita James.
Junior Parker featured before (in Vol. 4) with his cover of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. Here he reappears with another Beatles track (and I have another one waiting). Parker was not really a soul singer but a bluesman, having started his career as a teenager in the 1940s backing Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, and then playing in a Memphis band with B.B. King and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland (the latter, of course, also crossed over to soul at times). Parker’s trio of Beatles covers was his last: Parker died of a brain tumor on 18 November 1971 at just 39.
1. Grady Tate – Suicide Is Painless (Theme From M*A*S*H) (1974)
2. Brother To Brother – In The Bottle (1974)
3. Rotary Connection – Like A Rolling Stone (1967)
4. Bill Brandon – (Take Another Little) Piece Of My Heart (1972)
5. Dee Dee Warwick – Suspicious Minds (1971)
6. Blossoms – Fire And Rain (1972)
7. Al Green – Unchained Melody (1973)
8. Candi Staton – Stand By Your Man (1971)
9. Little Esther Phillips – Hello Walls (1964)
10. Joe Simon – Help Me Make It Through The Night (1973)
11. Lee Dorsey – Games People Play (1970)
12. Una Valli – Satisfaction (1968)
13. Billy Paul – Proud Mary (1970)
14. Stevie Wonder – Please, Please, Please (1967)
15. Brothers Unlimited – Spoonful (1970)
16. Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons – Fever (1970)
17. Junior Parker – Lady Madonna (1971)
18. David Porter – I Only Have Eyes For You (1970)
19. Madeline Bell – Climb Ev’ry Mountain (1968)
20. Gene Chandler – Unforgettable (1970)
21. Margie Joseph – He’s Got A Way (1974)
22. Labelle – Moonshadow (1972)