Posts Tagged ‘Jr. Walker & The All Stars’

‘Will My Love Grow . . .’

Friday, December 11th, 2015

When I decided last week to put together an alternate version of Joe Cocker’s second album – the 1969 self-titled outing with an added exclamation point – there were a couple tracks that had me a bit concerned: Would I find enough covers to make a decent selection? (In the case of one track, which we’ll get to by and by, I wondered if there were even any other versions of the song out there.)

One track about which I had no worries was the second one on Side Two: According to several sources I’ve seen in the past week, George Harrison’s “Something” has been covered more than 150 times, making it the second-most covered Beatles song after “Yesterday.” The song first showed up on Abbey Road in September 1969 and went to No. 1 in November that year as a two-sided single with “Come Together.” (And I suppose I maybe should have tackled the tracks on the Cocker album in order, but I didn’t.)

As it happened, Cocker was one of those who had the first chance at recording the song, according to Walter Everett in his 1999 book The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Everett says that Harrison offered the song to Joe Cocker in March 1969, before the Beatles recorded the song (and while the group was working on the album that became Abbey Road).

But Abbey Road came out in September 1969, and Joe Cocker! came out that November. Still, Cocker’s version of the tune was among the first covers – if not actually the first – to be released. Second Hand Songs notes that Peggy Lee’s version also came out in November 1969 (and cites a recording date in April of that year), as did a version by Tony Bennett. The most recent cover listed at Second Hand Songs is one by Billy Sherwood, released in April this year on the tribute compilation Keep Calm and Salute The Beatles.

Here at the EITW studios, there are thirty versions of the tune on the shelves; those include multiple versions by the Beatles (from Abbey Road and Love), by Harrison himself (from the 1990s Anthology, from The Concert For Bangla Desh and from the 1992 set Live In Japan), and by Paul McCartney (from several live sets, including the 2002 Concert For George).

Among those I passed over for this portion of the Cover Cocker project were easy listening versions by Ray Conniff, the Lettermen, the Mystic Moods Orchestra and Ferrante & Teicher, a faux Twenties take by the Templeton Twins with Teddy Turner’s Bunsen Burners, a stellar instrumental by Booker T & The MG’s (from McLemore Avenue, the group’s Abbey Road tribute), and an eleven-minute version by Isaac Hayes.

I was tempted by Booker T & The MG’s, but then I wandered a bit further down the list and clicked on the cover of Harrison’s tune by Jr. Walker & The All Stars. It’s from the 1971 album Rainbow Funk, and it went right to the top of the list:

‘Run Just Like The Wind Will . . .’

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Doing some of my usual wandering through Billboard Hot 100 charts and videos at YouTube this morning, I found myself sifting through several reggae versions of the same Neil Diamond song. I started here:

The 1970 cover by Jr. Walker & The All Stars of Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy” – a No. 6 hit from 1969 – got only as high as No. 75 in the Hot 100. In fact, that’s where the record was sitting forty-two years ago today: No. 75. (It went to No. 33 on the R&B chart.) Even though I was a dedicated Top 40 listener back in those days, I don’t recall hearing the Walker cover, which is not at all surprising. At Oldiesloon, a quick scan of surveys from the Twin Cities’ stations KDWB and WDGY around the time 1970 turned into 1971 showed no sign of the Walker version. (The highest Walker’s cover of “Holly Holy” got in any survey listed at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive is No. 14, at KASR in Astoria, Oregon, which is surreal even for 1971.)

I wondered, as I often do, about other covers, so I took a quick look at Second Hand Songs. Now, I imagine that I’ve dug into titles at that website more than a hundred times over the past few years, and on occasion, I’ll find a listing for a reggae cover of a specific tune. But four reggae covers of the same song? Never.

I don’t know much about reggae, being at best a casual listener. There are some LPs in the stacks, mostly Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Ziggy Marley. I recognize Marley’s stuff when it comes on the radio on WXYG. But beyond that, the data banks are pretty clean. So I did not recognize the three solo performers listed at Second Hand Songs as having recorded covers of “Holly Holy.”

The 1970 cover by John Holt, which sounds to me a little like reggae light for some reason, was released as a single on the Bamboo label. Also in 1970, Jackie Mittoo recorded “Holly Holy,” releasing it on his album, Now. Four years later, Willie Lindo included the song on his album Far & Distant. Of the three, I think I prefer the Lindo version, but Mittoo’s is okay. (There are entries on both Holt and Mittoo at Wikipedia. Information on Lindo is a little sketchier, but there are a few pages out there with some stuff.)

The fourth reggae version listed at Second Hand Songs was by a more familiar group: UB40. The group from Birmingham, England, included the tune on their 1998 album, Labor of Love III, and it’s pretty good: