At the risk of becoming an audio ambulance chaser at this point, I thought I’d serve up an Aretha Franklin post. The poor Queen of Soul has been in serious bad health as of late, with people going so far as holding all night prayer vigils for her. Pull through Reethie!
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Aretha’s Rock Steady. When I lived in New York I subletted an apartment from a programmer slob (the worst kind of slob btw) named Charlie who insisted on keeping most of his crap in the apartment while he was not living there. Well long story short one day a large pipe burst and quickly proceeded flood the apartment. Within about 5 minutes the studio was under a half a foot of water, no joke. While I was able to quickly rescue a lot of my belongings whilst the super shut off the pipe, poor Charlie & the slob factory’s stuff was not. Shortly after the waters receded one of my more enlightened crate-digging friends decided to stop by. Surveying the miniature hurricane Katrina disaster that now constituted my apartment, he quietly stepped over the wreckage to Charlie’s now defunct record collection, and without saying a word he picked up the one record in the heap that didn’t get soaked; a copy of Aretha’s Young, Gifted and Black. With a small hmmmpf-that’s interesting grin on his face he threw on Rock Steady.
‘I fucking love that track.’, he said.
‘Yeah’, I smiled, now oblivious to the surrounding carnage, ‘Not bad.’
With that I have for you a small, but sublime, collection of VG-approved covers. Leading, as always, with reggae is a cut on PAMA by The Marvels (which btw trying to find Aretha’s version of ‘Rock Steady’ in a sea of reggae/rocksteady tunes should be the very definition of A Needle In A Haystack). Old school funk and soul cuts abound from (the very rare) La-Mars, Frank Owens, Jackson Sisters, Johnny Hammond Smith, Julius Brockington and Ruby Delicious as well as some new school funk/soul from The Perceptions and a surprisingly not half bad one from Ex-En Vogue diva Dawn Robinson. And lastly for my more dance-oriented colleagues out there, a Trax Records bronze-age (1986!) house version from Dalis
The Marvels – Rock Steady
La-Mars – Rock Steady
Frank Owens – Rock Steady
Jackson Sisters – Rock Steady
Johnny Hammond Smith – Rock Steady
Julius Brockington – Rock Steady
Ruby Delicious – Rock Steady
The Perceptions – Rock Steady (Craig Charles Show Session)
Dawn Robinson – Rock Steady
Dalis – Rock Steady
PS Bonus re-edit for those in the Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, you know where to look…