‘How Does Your Light Shine?’

As we’ve discovered over the past week or two, covers of the song “Shambala” – the Daniel Moore-penned song first recorded in 1973 by B.W. Stevenson and covered almost simultaneously by Three Dog Night – are relatively few. (I should note that the order in which the first versions of the song were recorded is offered here as I find it online. Faithful reader and pal Yah Shure made a comment in an email the other day that calls that order – Stevenson, then Three Dog Night – into question. I’ve meant to ask him about that, but I have not yet done so.)

Beyond the two 1973 versions and the two other covers noted here last week, I’ve found three other covers of “Shambala” and clear evidence that there’s at least one more cover out there: At least two used record outlets online are offering a 45 rpm single of the tune by soul legend Solomon Burke. Neither listing shows an issue date, nor does the generally reliably Soulful Kinda Music list the single at all. All Music Guide has the track listed on a 2004 anthology. If I get hold of it, it will show up here.

Writer Moore released one rootsy self-titled album in 1971 and then focused on writing and production for more than twenty years before establishing his own label – DJM – and releasing a series of albums starting in 1997, with the most recent listed at AMG being 2011’s Fittin’ To Go Off. His rather bland take on “Shambala” showed up on his 1998 album, Riding a Horse & Holding Up the World:

One of the covers of “Shambala” mentioned here earlier was Rockpile’s a capella 1992 offering. A similar version showed up in 2009 via a group that was formed at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. That’s when the Bear Necessities included their version of the tune on their album Teaches Of Peaches, a take on the song that, to my ears, owes an immense debt to the Swingle Singers.

And finally, the last cover I’ve found of “Shambala” is a good live version of the tune recorded by country star Toby Keith and his band. The performance – recorded in June 2010 at New York City’s Irving Plaza during one of Keith’s low-profile Incognito Bandito gigs – was one of four live tracks included in the deluxe version of Keith’s 2011 album Clancy’s Tavern.

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2 Responses to “‘How Does Your Light Shine?’”

  1. Tim McMullen says:

    Your coverage of the Daniel Moore tunes had me seek out his work. He appears to have a number of CDs available with quite a few good tunes. Quite a variety in styles as well, from R & B, to Gospel, to Country, to Rock.

  2. Yah Shure says:

    Whiteray, to clarify what I’d sent you earlier via e-mail: there’s no doubt Stevenson had his version of “Shambala” in the stores even before Three Dog Night had committed the tune to tape. If Cory Wells’ recollections are accurate, 3DN had been offered the song first. To quote from liner notes of the 2-CD ‘Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story 1965-1975’ set:

    Cory: “That one had all kinds of repercussions. An unethical song pitcher pitches me the tune, and I tell him to freeze it. He takes it to B.W. Stevenson. You see, people wanted to know what we were gonna do so they could beat us out.”

    Chuck (Negron): “Cory and I had a big fight, because I didn’t want to put it out as a single. I said, ‘You are letting RCA, who had Stevenson, decide our next single’ instead of releasing the album and letting radio and the public decide.”

    Richie (Podolor, producer): “We had two days to do it. Michael (Allsup) did one overdub, but I ended up playing seven guitar parts because not everybody was available. It was such a rush-rush thing. We used helicopters to fly out acetates to DJs to get that going. We didn’t have it pressed, and we were reviewed and we had a hit with it, just hand-carrying it to stations.”

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