Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Dan Penn Files: Do Right Woman

As I wrote awhile back in this World Hum blog post, one of the best parts of my visit to Muscle Shoals was the songwriters' corner at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. There, I had the chance to see Dan Penn's original scribblings of the lyrics to 'Do Right Woman, Do Right Man' while listening to Aretha Franklin belt it out on a vintage jukebox. Classic, right?

Here's Penn's own version of arguably his most famous song:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cover Art: What A Man / Whatta Man

Salt'n'Pepa's 'Whatta Man' blurs the lines between cover and sample, borrowing heavily from Linda Lyndell but still remaining its own song.

Here's the original, playing in the background of a sketchy homemade video:

And here's the version I grew up on:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sasha Frere-Jones on Usher and the Audible Pain of Soul

Interesting few lines from the New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones, in a review of Usher's new album:

"If Usher is considered part of soul and R. & B., he is a quiet revolutionary, stripping out the pain audible in the work of so many great male soul singers: Otis Redding, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, R. Kelly. Catharsis has no place in Usher’s work, no matter the topic. The blood is all offstage, and Usher plays our Greek chorus, moralizing and reporting. It’s an easier gig than having to do the wet work. (R. & B. after “Confessions” has continued in this denatured, slight vein, from the cyborg come-ons of Ciara to Chris Brown’s Usher-lite routine.)"

You can read the full review here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

James Brown - Please Please Please

I'm fresh off a trip to New York City, where I stayed just around the corner from Harlem's famed Apollo Theater.

The Apollo's played host to plenty of big names over the years, but possibly its most famous act was James Brown, on the night he recorded his phenomenal, game-changing album, Live at the Apollo (1962) - called the "most apocalyptic non-gospel album ever recorded" by Peter Guralnick, and "almost certainly the greatest live album ever" by Peter Shapiro, author of the Rough Guide to Soul and R&B.

This clip isn't from the Apollo, but it's a taste of Brown's early live vibe.