Last year I wrote a blog post about how there’s been an onslaught of artists that are producing truly world-class R&B and soul, including Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and Shemekia Copeland (not to mention Adele and Bruno Mars).
There have been many discussions about which artist had the greatest influence on Michael Jackson. One name that pops up on many lists is Jackie Wilson. Consider this clip from the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream that dramatizes “Mr. Excitement” mesmerizing a young MIchael Jackson.
The actor here is doing a fine job, but readers should really check out the real deal. Here’s Wilson closing “Shindig” in 1964.
If you look carefully you’ll see the Righteous Brothers and a very young Bobby Sherman joining Wilson on stage. Willy Nelson was also on the show that night, but I’ve not been able to spot him during the show’s “dance off”.
Here’s another clip of Wilson performing the same song a year later (keep your eyes out for Fontalla Bass).
In addition to Wilson just killing it, I love the house band, which features the likes of Leon Russell, Billy Preston, and Glen Campbell.
(Note: It’s nice to know these folks were in fact mortal. Check out some problems with the form around 1:50 where only some people in the and move to the IV chord).
I’ll leave you with a clip of one of my favorite Jackie Wilson songs, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” which Wilson recorded in 1967. The Top Shelf performs this from time to time.
And yes, that is James Jamerson on bass even though it’s not a Motown recording.
I love writing new arrangements of familiar tunes but I shy away from Beatles songs as many attempts by others have resulted in horrible failures. Just listen to the Sleepy’s commercial that uses “In My Life” and you’ll hear what I mean.
That said, there are some exceptions and one truly astonishingly arrangement is Earth, Wind, and Fire’s version of “Got to Get You into My Life”.
Don’t get me wrong; the Beatles’ version is great, but I think Maurice White and company’s take is the definitive version of the song.
There was no way I was going to improve upon this gem, but given that the recording fades out I did write a tag so we could have a tidy ending.
We haven’t performed this for a while but we’ll take this on — along with some Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears — at our next show at The Cutting Room on June 7.