leave your inhibitions at the door
A lot of people don’t like when musicians do covers of others’ songs, but I do. Sometimes it’s done tongue-in-cheek, but most often they do it because they love the song or are inspired by the artist in some way. It’s interesting when they cover something from a different genre and put their own spin on it. It’s even MORE interesting when some of the whitest, non-funky people around cover R&B and Hip Hop.
The first two Honky Covers posts were pretty lopsided affairs. Bastille’s version of TLC’s “No Scrubs” was no match for the original. And T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” proved way too funky for Anya Marina.
Is there any hope for the honkies?
(Thanks to The Drunken Cyclist for suggesting this one.)
On one side…
The Reverend Al Green’s original version of “Take Me to the River”
Fast-paced and full of the funky horn riffs – 70s soul at its best. This wasn’t his biggest song by a long stretch. He was already a mega-star with his “Tired of Being Alone” and “Let’s Stay Together” and several other hits. Back when he was just “Al Green,” before the infamous “grits incident.”
Never heard of it?
Like I said, he was a major star in the early 70s. Think Jay Z, Prince, Bieber, Justin Timberlake all rolled into one.
On October 18, 1974, he was at his home, chillaxing in the tub. All of a sudden, one of his girlfriends came into the bathroom and poured a pot full of boiling grits all over him and then committed suicide. That incident forced him to change his life and became an ordained minister and started recording gospel music.
As morbid as it sounds, I often think of some of his songs when I’m making breakfast.
On the other side…
Talking Heads were one of my favorite bands in high school. As Al Green epitomized soul, these guys were the essential New Wave band – punky, artsy, cutting edge. They were getting semi-famous because of “Psycho Killer,” but were still pretty raw and edgy. Their version of “Take me to the River” was their first big hit and appeared on More Songs about Buildings and Food, the Brian Eno-produced album where they started to explore their funky side.
As much as Al Green defined early R&B, I think Talking Heads’ version out-funked him. David Byrne’s vocals were far more plaintive and that walking base line was downright sick.
Who do you think won?