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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Soul Covers - Stevie Wonder does The Beatles

George writes:

There are 5 albums on the shelves that call themselves an anthology:

  1. The Immediate Record Company pop anthology
  2. The dust blows forward (an anthology)
  3. Anthology
  4. The American song-poem anthology. Do they know the difference between bigwood and brush?
  5. Anthology

(just look at the splendid selection of albums in that advert)

One of those anthologies is a triple-LP set released in the 1970s, that I purchased from Chalmers &Joy record shop in Gellatly Street, Dundee. I was convinced it had today’s cover version on it, said song being in the time-frame covered by the collection.  Imagine my surprise, as I read and re-read the track listing to see it was absent. “For Once In My Life”? Yes. “My Cherie Amour”? Yes. “I Was Made To Love Her”? Oh Yes. “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours”? Yup. Today’s song?. It is, though, on the Signed Delivered & Delivered album. . Unlike the inspiration of this series it comes under the soul genre, not country

(Yes,  I still have the booklet)

The original song, 50% of the UK’s first ever double-A side, features the music of a  bass guitar, acoustic guitar, tambourine, drums, and a harmonium. I was slightly disappointed that the last instrument was not played by Ivor Cutler.

Mr Wonder’s isn’t the only soul version of this song, but Maxine Brown’s 1966 version is a smooth bland copy, there’s a drawn-out, string-heavy version by Valerie Simpson with a vocal suggestive of a poor poor poor imitation of what she thought Donny Hathaway might have made of it, and Chaka Khan’s discofied version is simply dreadful. Well, the 31 seconds I listened to, and as Mr McCartney himself wrote “life is very short, and there’s no ti-i-ime for fussing and fighting listening to this bollocks ever again”. But Stevland’s 1970 version is tremendous, there’s real feeling in his vocal, and, of course, his version is the one I like the most. By far.

I could find no portuguese-language version, but I did unearth Brazilian band Day By Day’s 1972 version, but it’s not sung in portuguese. I also found a version that heavily features the bongos. And there was one that I hoped would be a sort of prog-folk version but after a minute or so of promising mindless meandering it just became a straight copy. And neither country or soul, so banned under the rules.

Before I forget, looking at the 5 albums listed at the top, the first was a cheap compilation purchased in a FOPP record shop somewhere, the second is a Captain Beefheart career-spanning double-CD compilation I bought on ebay solely to get my hands on the song Hard Workin’ Man, the third is a Hoodoo Gurus double CD compilation, the fourth is a tremendous album where people in the USA write lyrics to a song then post them off to someone who will provide the music, and the last is the Stevie Wonder compilation of his 1961-1970 work, released by Motown in the 1970s in no way to cash in on Mr Wonder’s successes of the mid-1970s (of which motown had little control but still made a bob or two from)
Possibly another one next week.

CC writes
No possibly about it - there is another one in the can.
Thankfully George did not share Stevie's version of Blowin' in the Wind


  1. APolgies for sending the wrong picture of teh Stevie Wonder album. My copy is called Anthology, and comes with a big booklet

  2. I have this too- The American song-poem anthology- and it is magnificent

  3. I can always make time for Stevie Wonder. George, it's probably not quite to your taste, but my favorite cover of this song is by Dislocation Dance.