Tag Archive: Marvin Gaye


Happy New Year!  I’ve got my pork und kraut in the crock pot, American style collegiate football on the telly, the Stones on the stereo, and my little baby boy is chillin’ in his rocking chair.  Life is good.  Welcome to 2018!

So, when I finished my master’s degree about 5 1/2 years ago, the Princess gave me a gift card to Bestest Buy as a graduation present.  So I remember picking this up for $10, along with the blu ray edition of the PJ20 movie, and some PS3 games.  I remember at the time I was on a Stones kick, and I wanted to have “Satisfaction” on CD.  Which, I suppose I should note that this is the American version of this album, with “Satisfaction” on it.  Like many albums from that era, the British version had a different track list, omitting “Satisfaction” completely, and different artwork.  But while the Beatles catalog was eventually “canonized” with the British versions of their albums, no such thing ever happened with the Stones, so often it is the American versions that are most familiar to folks on this side of the Atlantic.  However, like the Beatles moptop era records, this album contains a lot of covers.  Actually, it’s half covers, but that’s what makes it fun.  On this record, Mick and company cover Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and even some Otis Redding (who returned the favor by covering “Satisfaction” that same year).  The result is a straight up R&B record that showcases the band’s ability to groove.  Of the six Jagger/Richards originals (of which “Satisfaction” is obviously the highlight), only “Play With Fire” breaks the mold and delves into the Baroque influenced sound the Stones would explore on their next album, Aftermath.  There is a little bit of a country influence on “The Spider and the Fly”, but it still winds up being more of a blues tune.  Overall, this is a great record that showcases the Rolling Stones’ early R&B influences.  In short, it rocks and it rolls.

Other lists: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is also #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Rolling Stones’ Songs, along with “The Last Time” at #23, “Play With Fire” at #36, “Cry to Me” at #72, and “That’s How Strong My Love Is” at #79.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from it’s original position at #114.

My favourite track: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

Honourable mention: “The Spider and the Fly”

Quote: “So don’t play with me, ’cause your playing with fire.”

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portrait-of-a-legend

Before I dug into this album, which I picked up on Amazon Prime for $9 (two day shipping baby!), the only Sam Cooke song I thought I knew was “A Change Is Gonna Come.”  And I was aware of that song mostly because we studied it as a civil rights era anthem in one of my music history classes in college.  And like most things, one can study it in a class, but it wasn’t until I became a music teacher that I realized the true power of the song, as it truly has become transcendental in that it has been passed down from generation to generation.  More than any other song, and I include Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in this statement, “A Change is Gonna Come” has been embraced as an anthem for change and equality and human rights by the old and the young across the nation.  And sadly, Sam Cooke didn’t live long enough to see the impact his masterpiece had on people across the country, but that is another story for another time.

So anyway, when I listened to this album, which is essentially a greatest hits package, I discovered that i knew several of the songs on it.  Songs like “(What a) Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Another Saturday Night”, and “Good Times”, were radio staples when I was kid.  I just never knew those songs were sung by Sam Cooke.  And as a singer, I certainly enjoyed Sam’s voice on this record.  Stylistically, his tenor voice sits somewhere between the silky smoothness of Marvin Gaye and the raw emotional power of Otis Redding.  And he sings in a full voice, rarely, if ever, using falsetto, which is a plus to me.  But, as much as I enjoyed Sam’s voice, I felt his talent was wasted on most of the songs on this album.  For the most part, these songs sound like same trite 50s pop you would have heard on the juke box in a soda shop.  And listening to this album, I just kept yearning to hear Sam sing something more substantial.  Maybe I need to look up his gospel recordings, as I really do like the first song on this album, “Touch the Hem of His Garment” a lot.  At any rate, he was a great singer, even if the quality of these songs doesn’t quite live up to the level of his talent.  And his take on the Gershwin classic “Summertime” is pretty awesome.

Other lists: “A Change is Gonna Come” is #12, “You Send Me” is #115, “(What a) Wonderful World” is #383, and “Cupid” is #458 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Sam Cooke is ranked at #4 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and at #16 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

Ch-ch-changes: Like most of the albums through this section, it is one spot lower than its original ranking at #106.  Kid A!

My favorite track: “Summertime”

Honorable mention: “Another Saturday Night”

Quote: “Yeah, come on and let the good times roll.  We’re gonna stay here till we soothe our souls.”

There's a Riot Goin' On

So here we have another answer to Marvin Gaye’s essential question What’s Going On?…well, apparently there’s a riot goin’ on.  And that may be a reference to riot that happened at a concert when Sly went on stage late (shades of Axl Rose there), or it could be a general statement on the racial violence gripping American in the aftermath of the civil rights movement.  Either way, this is not the fun, happy Sly Stone we met on the Greatest Hits record.  This album is much darker, and while it still grooves, it certainly isn’t the fun summertime party music he had been making previously.  For the most part, it sounds like one long, extended jam session that has been cut up into separate tracks.  Except it’s not really a jam session, nor is it really a Family Stone album, because it’s mostly just Sly doing the Prince/Trent Reznor thing (prior, of course, to Prince or Trent Reznor doing the Prince/Trent Reznor thing) and playing most of the instruments himself with a few guest artists like Billy Preston (who played with Beatles), Ike Turner, and Bobby Womack helping out.  I picked this up for $7 at the Exchange in North Olmstead this past summer when I was up in the Land for a weekend at the Princess’ alma mater.  It takes a few spins to really dig into it.  And even the remastered CD is still a little murky from all of Sly’s overdubs.

Other lists: See entry #61 on Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits.

My favorite track: “Time”

Honorable mention: “Spaced Cowboy” (nice yodel work)

Quote: “My only weapon is my pen, and the frame of mind I’m in.”