When I was a wee lad, my father went to work creating an oldies mix tape for us while on road trips and weekend visits. This mix tape would serve as the backbone of my musical education - it’s romantic gestures, funky backbeats, great stories, killer grooves, amazing voices and just… yeah. Here’s half the tape, 11 songs.
Score! I found a beautifully maintained record store in Charlottesville, Virginia while kicking it with my pops and girlfriend. It’s not a hipster hangout but a place for genuine music fans, a sort of clubhouse for psychedelic rockers and punkers, for those who are looking for just that right sound, for those who know how to skank to the beat and for those jazz cats who always know where the downbeat is. Ask for Gwen Berthy and tell him Jason sent you.
I picked up this superb stash of 45s:
I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown
Cold Sweat - James Brown
In the Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett
I’m a Midnight Mover - Wilson Pickett
Gimme Little Sign - Benton Wood
Last Kiss - J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley and his Comets
Funky Chicken - Willie Henderson and the Soul Explosion
Promised Land - Chuck Berry
Wooly Bully - Sam the Sham and the Pharohs
Tighten Up - Archie Bell & The Drells
Super Freak - Rick James
Long Tall Sally - Little Richard
(I’m A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker and the All Stars
You see, covers songs are remarkably overrated. What I dig are the original versions of killers. If you dig deep enough you may find they’re sublimely different and often better than the cover versions.
This is not to discredit Otis Redding’s “Respect.” His version is absolutely incredible, but a clear difference exists between incredible and legendary. Aretha took that song and made it so. When Bob Dylan does All Along the Watchtower now he plays it like Jimi did. Even still, the original version of classic cuts often provide deeper insight, especially once one gets beyond the mystique or vocal talent. Frankly, some tunes are better in rough fashion. Some jams work best when they’re loose shambles before a slick producer gets his hands on it. Here’s to the authentic.
These songs were covered by Johnny Cash, The Clash, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett and more.