Archive for the ‘Bobby Hebb’ Category

Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Listen: Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald
Sunshine Of Your Love / Ella Fitzgerald

Always found a weak spot for 60′s jazzy covers of then popular Top 40 hits. A lost art nowadays I suppose.

Right through to the mid 70′s, there seemed an abundance of them tailor made for cocktail lounge jukeboxes. No idea how many versions of ‘Misty’ I own, and certainly have even more pressings of an all time favorite, both as an original and a cover, Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’.

My guilty pleasure Ella Fitzgerald track has to be ‘Black Coffee’, which was never issued on 7″. Not that I know her work extensively, but I do recall hearing it, just one time, on the radio, in a friend’s parent’s car, with both of them smoking upfront. Nasty but a time period snapshot still vivid in my brain.

Her rendition of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ comes pretty close. Hey, it’s flip is ‘Hey Jude’, imagine that. But hands down, this A side documents an, at times, raspy vocal that I find most uncharacteristic of Ella Fitzgerald. And then there’s the song choice, The Cream! Come on, that’s pretty funny.

Wouldn’t be surprised if it was “Alright, give me the lyrics, I’ll sing it already. Let’s just get this over with.”

Marlena Shaw

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Listen: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy / Marlena Shaw
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy / Marlena Shaw

Like with Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’, I also have a similar penchant for ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’. Basically, never do I pass up a copy, in fact, the loungier the better.

There are plenty of renditions around by everyone from Jaco Pastorius to Nils Lofgren. Not to mention versions buried in jazzy muzak albums that came fast and furious in the late 60′s.

’67 was the year that saw the song hit Billboard’s Top 5 twice, The Buckinghams version with lyrics, and the original instrumental from The Cannonball Adderley Quintet which went to #1, no doubt a surprise to both artist and label. Big fan of both.

Those in the know, like England’s mods, would attest that the grooviest, hands down, is from Marlena Shaw. Here’s a lady that recorded for the who’s who of RnB/Jazz labels during her career: Chess subsidiary Cadet, Blue Note and Verve.

In ’63, after initially deciding to go for the big time, and get into a record company, she auditioned for, but was turned down by Columbia. Several years later, they changed their minds and signed her away from Blue Note after releasing the wonderfully titled WHO IS THIS BITCH, ANYWAY?

Sounds familiar. I got invited in to Columbia for an interview in the late 80′s, never heard another word from them. About ten years later, out of the blue they rang again, this time offering me a job. I figured, give it a try. Lasted twelve years.

Roscoe Shelton

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Listen: Wedding Cake / Roscoe Shelton
Wedding Cake / Roscoe Shelton

Always moth to flame when it comes to food related songs, I can admit an implied dessert tray will always, hands down, be the most attractive. From that box in storage mentioned a few posts ago which my sometimes fried memory does not recall the origins of, that same brain has no problem recognizing the ripping power of a God given voice. Enter Roscoe Shelton.

As for ‘Wedding Cake’, marvel at the building swagger of the song’s greatness, but howl too at it’s double entendre lyric. Plain and simple, they’re brilliantly clever and a Blowfly style riot.

The guy was close friend to Bobby Hebb as well. Hard to top that.

Roscoe Shelton. One of too many unsung, under appreciated RnB gems.

Richard Groove Holmes

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Listen: Misty / Groove Holmes RichardHolmesMisty.mp3

There are many, many covers of Erroll Garner’s ‘Misty’ from ’54. Some people will complain it’s schmaltzy, a bore or that it’s too adult. But be informed, the greats have done it in varying styles: Aretha Franklin, Donald Byrd, Johnny Mathis, Sarah Vaughan, The Vibrations, Donny Hathaway, Julie London, Stan Getz even Timebox.

Almost forty years later, in ’91, ‘Misty’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame, not surprising given one of the most common jokes about the RIAA’s recognition process is how out of touch they can be.

It’s a fact: like Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’, ‘Misty’ weathers just about every genre well.


Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Listen: A Satisfied Mind / Bobby Hebb BobbyHebbASatisfiedMind.mp3

I hated his hit ‘Sunny’ when it was current in ’66. Absolutely loathed that sucker. Got rammed down everyone’s throat, plus being so safe and mellow it managed to cross all the formats – you literally couldn’t get away from it. Logically it peaked at #2 during it’s healthy fifteen week US chart run.

Yet ‘Sunny’ was so strong that everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and The Electric Flag to Georgie Fame and Les Mc Cann were covering it too. Now I wish I’d had better taste at the time. Not only has it become a favorite through the years (I’ve collected over 30 covers on 7″) but I’m hooked on his voice as well. Like Jon Lucien years later, and probably Mel Torme prior, he has this calming tone that appeals to my valium side. His follow ups were pretty great too. I think he should’ve been around a lot longer.

The followup single, released just after ‘Sunny’, was a great double sider. ‘A Satisfied Mind’, despite possibly being a bit ‘Sunny’ sounding, has held up – I know cause it’s on my jukebox and plays a lot. I never tire of it. Not so with the public, peaking at #39, and lasting only six weeks total on the Billboard Top 100.

Listen: Love Love Love / Bobby Hebb BobbyHebbLoveLoveLove.mp3

The B side, ‘Love Love Love’, is now considered to be his ‘other’ hit – having gained UK Northern Soul success in ’72. When re-released there due to demand, it sold well and charted at #32. Most tracks on his one and only Philips LP, SUNNY BY BOBBY HEBB are worth many listens too. Get it if you can.

Boney M

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

BoneyMRivers, Boney M, Atlantic, Sire

Listen: Rivers Of Babylon / Boney M BoneyMRiver.mp3

BoneyMBrown Boney M, Atlantic, Sire

Listen: Brown Girl In The Ring / Boney M BoneyMBrownGirl.mp3

If ever there was a double sider, this one qualifies. Probably by accident, Boney M’s massive worldwide success, their cover of The Melodians’ Jamaican hit ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ was coupled with ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’. Who knew? The A side was such a smash in the UK (#1) that even the flip took hold, got played and charted on it’s own right (also #1). It was a time when Boney M could do no wrong, German accents and all, one of many consistent ‘phenomenas’ in England. When they get themselves worked up, they really get themselves worked up.

Boney M was everywhere – and seemingly all walks of musical taste liked them. I know I did.

BoneyMRasputin Boney M, Atlantic, Sire
BoneyMRasputinUSA Boney M, Atlantic, Sire

Rasputin /Boney M BoneyMRasputin.mp3

Their NIGHTFLIGHT TO VENUS album contained both ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ and ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ as well a bunch of other classics: the title track, a version of The Creation’s ‘Painter Man’, ‘He Was A Steppenwolf’ and ‘Rasputin’ (which became the followup reaching #2). One of those huge selling albums, like we don’t really have much anymore, the ‘Painter Man’ track became a single, charting at #10, a whole year after the double A whammy peaked.

BoneyMPainter, Boney M, The Creation, Atlantic

Painter Man /Boney M BoneyMPainter.mp3

Somewhere in that team, good taste prevailed. Not only did they cover The Creation, they had a go at The Smoke’s ‘My Friend Jack’, Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny’, The Yardbirds’ ‘Still I’m Sad’ as well as Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich’s ‘Zabadak’.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.

Billy Preston

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

billyprestonbagsue, billy preston, apple, george harrison, doris troy, beatles, sue records, capitol, sunny, bobby hebb

Listen: Billy’s Bag / Billy Preston BillyPrestonBag.mp3

Sticking with the euphoric fantasy of 60′s Mod clubs around London’s Soho I touched on in the last few posts, it’s irresponsible not to include Billy Preston. ‘Billy’s Bag’ was christened hip, no small reason being it’s issue on the Sue label. Nice hammond groover, as the in crowd would say.

billyprestonsunnyuka, billy preston, apple, george harrison, doris troy, beatles, sue records, capitol, sunny, bobby hebb

Listen: Sunny / Billy Preston BillyPrestonSunny.mp3

It’s not news that I’m a sucker for covers of ‘Sunny’. I hated the song when it was current, check my Bobby Hebb post from November ’08, but have since sobered up and done my penance. Amongst my collection is this fake (I’m guessing) live version apparently attempting to recreate one of those very club nights mentioned above. Again, nice hammond groover, again as the in crowd would say.