Posts Tagged ‘Kiki Dee’

From Rivers To Havens

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

In last week’s post about Jackson Browne, I noted that I had come across a few intriguing cover versions of some of his tunes, so in the interest of not letting my research molder on the shelf, here are those covers.

The music of Johnny Rivers has been a frequent topic at this blog, with singles, albums and videos having been posted more than twenty times, based on a quick estimate this morning. That’s not surprising, as I’ve long admired Rivers’ abilities. One of the covers I found this week turned out to be – as far as I can tell – the first released recording of Browne’s “Lady of the Well.” Rivers included his version on his 1972 album Home Grown. A year later, Browne included the song on For Everyman.

Maybe the most startling find during this brief bit of digging came from 1972, when the Jackson 5 covered “Doctor My Eyes,” which was on Browne’s self-titled debut (often retitled by fans as Saturate Before Using) that same year. The Jackson 5 version went to No. 9 hit in England. Here in the U.S., it was relegated to the status of an album track on Lookin’ Through the Windows, which – based on the review at All-Music Guide – sounds like a mish-mash of an album. Even if that’s true about the album, the Jacksons’ performance on “Doctor My Eyes” makes one wonder how it would have fared on the charts on this side of the pond.

A cover of “Doctor My Eyes” isn’t surprising – though hearing it done by the Jackson 5 was a little startling – as it’s one of the sturdier songs on Browne’s first album. It’s a little surprising, however, to find a cover of Browne’s’ “Song for Adam.” It’s a fine song, no doubt, but it’s far more personal in its stance and far more subdued than “Doctor My Eyes” (or the other track seen as a major statement on Jackson Browne, “Rock Me On The Water”). But Kiki Dee chose to cover “Song for Adam” on her 1973 album, Loving & Free. No doubt the production by Elton John and Clive Franks helped, but Dee did a pretty good job with the song.

There was one more surprise for me as I dug into covers of Jackson Browne’s tunes, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all, for I’ve heard the track in question numerous times and just forgot about it. I wrote in last week’s post that Browne’s two agit-prop albums of the late 1980s – Lives In The Balance from 1986 and World In Motion from 1989 – didn’t interest me much. Part of that was the content, and part of that was Browne’s performance; his rather slight voice didn’t seem up to the challenge of calling for revolution. But take the title tune from Lives In The Balance and hand it to Richie Havens, and you have a different thing entirely. Havens’ stirring cover of “Lives In The Balance” comes from his 1994 album Cuts to the Chase.

Saturday Single No. 177

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

(Altered significantly since original post.)

Not very enthusiastically, I was scanning the Billboard Hot 100 for March 22, 1975, looking for something from thirty years ago this week that would inspire me for today’s post. I was thinking about a game of “Jump,” offering up the Top 40 single that had moved the greatest number of places from the previous week’s list. For the list from March 22, 1975, that would have been Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” which had moved up twenty-four spots to No. 11. I shrugged; that’s never been one of my favorite Elton John tunes.

I’d already looked at the Hot 100 for this week in 1970, and a game of “Jump” there would have pointed out an amazing leap: As of March 21, 1970, the Beatles’ “Let It Be” stood at No. 6 after not having been listed in the Hot 100 or among the records in the “Bubbling Under” section the week before. That means that “Let It Be” went in one week from no higher than No. 121 to No. 6, an astounding leap of one hundred and fifteen spots. But “Let It Be,” as much as I loved it then and still like it today, isn’t all that interesting. (Well, there are the differences between the single produced by George Martin and the album track produced by Phil Spector, but I’ve alluded to those before, I think, and anyway, the thought of writing about the record this morning didn’t grab me.)

So I went back to the 1975 chart, looking for something. And at No. 22, I saw “Emotion” by Helen Reddy, in its seventh week in the Hot 100. I’d heard the song last evening. Not by Reddy, though. “Emotion” is the opening track of the new Patti Dahlstrom CD, which arrived in the mail yesterday.

The song has an interesting back-story, one that starts with a French singer-songwriter named Véronique Sanson. In 1972, she had a French-language hit record with a song titled “Amoureuse.” According to Wikipedia, Sanson’s single was released in an English version in the United States in 1973 by Elektra Records. and thus came to the attention of Artie Wayne, a producer and songwriter (and these days, an active blogger), who at the time was an executive with Elektra’s parent company, Warner Music Group, is also a long-time friend of Patti Dahlstrom.

In the liner notes to her CD, Emotion – The Music of Patti Dahlstrom – Patti says that Artie sent Sanson’s French album to her “for my consideration to write English lyrics. I was mesmerized by the music to ‘Amoreuse,’ but I don’t speak French and had no idea what the lyrics meant. I carried the melody in my head for weeks and then one day the first line – ‘Lonely women are the desperate kind’ – just fell out as my key turned in the lock, and the lyric to ‘Emotion’ wrote itself very quickly.”

“Emotion” was included on Patti’s second album, 1973’s The Way I Am, and was released as a single. A year later, Helen Reddy recorded “Emotion” for her Free and Easy album, and an edit of the track was released as a single in January 1975. The single peaked at No. 22, which was where I saw it when I looked at the Hot 100 from March 22, 1975. (Reddy’s version of “Emotion” did, however, spend a week at No. 1 on the Adult Contmporary chart.)

So here is “Amoureuse” by Véronique Sanson from 1972. (I should note that “Amoureuse” – with lyrics translated from Sanson’s French original by singer-songwriter Gary Osborne – was a No. 13 U.K. hit in 1973 for British singer Kiki Dee. Dee’s recording thus has the same melody as “Emotion.”)

And then,  here’s “Emotion” by Helen Reddy from 1975, your Saturday Single.


(My thanks to reader Yah Shure for clarification of points I’d managed to muddy.)