The incomparable Sam & Dave performing one of my favorite songs of theirs on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969. The riff in the chorus is so boneheadedly simple and yet so perfect. Everything about this song is stripped down to the absolute essentials and executed flawlessly by an ultra-tight band. This is just a glimpse into what was apparently their legendary live show.
For songwriting nerds, this song is notable for doing something that’s generally difficult. With a couple of minor variations, the chord progression in the verse and chorus are identical, and so is the melody (although Ruffin sings it with some liberty in this live version). However, it’s very clear when the song is in the verse section and the chorus section. There are other songs that do this, one of my favorites being Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. However, what makes this song even more unique and interesting is that it changes keys for the chorus before masterfully changing back to the original key for the next verse.
Yes, some folks such as myself get great enjoyment from these things.
Damn, this song is hot. This is the 1977 version of the original 1972 Shuggie Otis song. Wikipedia sums it all up nicely. If it sounds familiar, it’s because this song has been covered and sampled extensively, but depending on how old you are, the bridge section will probably be most familiar as the basis of Color Me Badd’s 1992 song I Wanna Sex You Up.
The track was produced by one of my all time favorite music dudes, Quincy Jones (written about earlier here). This song and its corresponding album came out a year before Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, and while the music doesn’t quite have the dynamism of Michael’s songs, you can hear a common thread. Most obvious is the fact that Louis Johnson, the bass-playing half of the Brothers, lent his incredible talents to several of Michael’s biggest albums, including Thriller.
In college, my room mate turned me on to The Dude, which is a great summer record. This album came out in between Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall and Thriller, both produced by Quincy Jones. Since it’s of the same era, it shares a large number of the same musicians, as well as several songs by Rod Temperton, who wrote a number of Michael’s biggest hits. It has a similar vibe to those MJ records, maybe skewing a little closer to Off The Wall.
This song is the lead track on the album, and I have a pretty strong memory associated with it from my college days. My room mate and I were just hanging around our dorm room listening to records when an extremely drunken girl who was pursuing our third room mate knocked on the door. She mumbled something about how our third room mate had told her to stop by, so we let her in and continued to listen to music and ignore her. As she was lying in his bed waiting for him to get back, I noticed that she was beginning to heave. My second room mate was blissfully unaware, as he was getting down to this very song. By the time I got his attention, it was too late. She had projectile vomited all over our third room mate’s bed, desk, and the carpet. Then she started crying. I can’t think of anything else whenever I hear this song, but it makes me laugh.
This video is from some live performance in Japan in 1981 at Budokan. I haven’t been able to find any more footage from that show, but I’m sure there’s more out there. The band is amazing, and they pull off the song flawlessly, with an excellent solo section that begins at around 2:53. I don’t think Quincy Jones has any idea what he’s doing there, honestly. He only produced the song but didn’t play anything on the record itself. As the famous name attached to it, I guess he had to be there. He spends the entire song awkwardly flailing around “dancing” and “directing” the band, and it’s a little painful to watch, like watching your dad dance at a wedding.
Work To Do by The Main Ingredient (via puchersoul)
Here’s a 1973 cover of the Isley Brothers’ excellent song “Work To Do,” which was released only a year earlier.
The Main Ingredient’s biggest hit was 1972’s “Everybody Plays The Fool,” and they only enjoyed modest success afterwards. Lead vocals here are handled by Cuba Gooding, Sr., father of actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. (obviously).
While I think Ron Isley’s vocal performance on the original recording is superior (although Mr. Gooding still does an excellent job), I prefer this version a bit more overall due to the slightly glossier production.