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Black musicians interpret the Stones
June 14, 2011 8:40 PM   Subscribe

It's no secret that throughout their long career, the Rolling Stones have covered lots of tunes by black singers and bands from the worlds of soul, blues, R&B, reggae and early rock'n'roll, and have, of course, been heavily influenced by these various genres in their own performance and songwriting. Perhaps a bit lesser known is that several of the most iconic and legendary figures in black music have covered Stones songs as well. Here's Brown Sugar by Little Richard, Satisfaction by Aretha Frankilin and Otis Redding, Under My Thumb by Tina Turner, Start Me Up by Toots and the Maytals and, rather unexpectedly, Let's Spend the Night Together by blues great Muddy Waters
posted by flapjax at midnite (52 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is neat! Great post, dude.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:55 PM on June 14, 2011


The Aretha and Otis versions of "Satisfaction" are truly awesome.

The rest of these, though, sound forced and dated and very much like contractual obligation filler--not their best work... kinda ironic, that the Stones helped bring black music to white audiences, and the black artists' cover versions of the Stones' songs sound much whiter than the Stones appropriations of their music?

[apologies if that remark seems racially insensitive; I'm an oaf when it comes to gracefully voicing my questions about race and culture...]
posted by not_on_display at 8:58 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Omg, I loved seeing Aretha and Otis doing their versions, they are both my deep heart music heroes. When Tina does Under My Thumb it's extra meaningful, knowing her history with Ike.

Seconding not_on_display's thoughts.

You do such great posts flapjax.
posted by nickyskye at 9:04 PM on June 14, 2011


Aretha has also covered Jumpin' Jack Flash.
posted by Flunkie at 9:10 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the Rolling Stones and I love this post. Great work flapjax.
posted by arcticseal at 9:13 PM on June 14, 2011


hal_c_on writes: Great post, dude.

Thanks!

not_on_display writes: The rest of these, though, sound forced and dated and very much like contractual obligation filler

Gotta say I wouldn't entirely disagree with that, but with the following clarifications:

The Toots piece just sounds like straight-up reggae/ska to me, not especially "dated". Isn't it mainly the sounds (80s synth and drum sounds, for example) and production (cheesy backing vocal parts, etc) on some of the other numbers that make them seem dated? I'd argue that those things are generally not the fault of the respective singers, though, and that the vocal performances from Little Richard and Tina Turner are both very good. Oh, and Muddy, well, hell, his voice always sounds great.

nickyskye writes: When Tina does Under My Thumb it's extra meaningful, knowing her history with Ike.

I had exactly the same thought.

Aretha has also covered Jumpin' Jack Flash .

D'oh! In the back of my mind I knew that, too! thanks for linking to it, Flunkie!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:14 PM on June 14, 2011


Hmmm... with a little unexpected Fat Boys action.
posted by Flunkie at 9:15 PM on June 14, 2011


Or Merry Clayton covering her own performance on Gimmie Shelter
posted by creade at 9:17 PM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Toots is the reggae cover master. I love the Let Down cover on Radiordead.

Also I cannot listen to a Tina Turner cover without thinking about the "easy and rough" Proud Mary cover.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:23 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Satisfaction by Bill Preston.
posted by GeckoDundee at 9:41 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, that Muddy Waters track sounds positively psychedelic. I love, love it.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:43 PM on June 14, 2011


It's from Electric Mud, an album that really deserves its own FPP.
posted by GeckoDundee at 9:49 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dude, that Muddy Waters track sounds positively psychedelic. I love, love it.

Love it too. That was a nice way to start my Wednesday. Thanks flapjax.
posted by three blind mice at 9:54 PM on June 14, 2011


Not a black singer, but one of the first white singers to appear on Soul Train, David Bowie's Let's Spend the Night Together.
posted by HotPants at 9:57 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


More Tina: Honky Tony Woman
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:15 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's Spend the Night Together by blues great Muddy Waters

Worst track off a fucking phenomenal album. I mean, listen to this shit. I mean, seriously, listen to this shit.

Muddy's one psychedelic album. Listening to this, it's not hard to see where Jimi and Jimmy got their inspiration.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:22 PM on June 14, 2011


Satisfaction by Bill Preston.

GOD, that was good. Effortless vocal power and ease. Seeing that makes you wonder: why didn't Billy Preston just get up off that organ and sing sometimes? You know, just be a singer? I mean, not that everybody has to, and his organ playing is fine and all, but I can't help but think he'd have ben a much bigger name in music if he'd done that. Well, maybe he just didn't want that.

Funny to think, though, that for the overwhelming number of casual listeners, Preston will always just be that black guy who played with the Beatles.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:24 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, listen to this shit.

Yeah, it's fuckin badass. Muddy's singing just, yeah, hits the blues stratosphere.

The phenomenal Pete Cosey (guitar) tore it up all over that record, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:28 PM on June 14, 2011


Re: what I wrote above on Billy Preston - lo and behold, seems he did get out from behind those keyboards, at least once. And check out those moves, too!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:42 PM on June 14, 2011


Thelma Houston's Jumping Jack Flash
Merry Clayton's Gimme Shelter
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:47 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ack. Missed creade's post.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:48 AM on June 15, 2011


Also: Big at Wigan Casino, but not *really* soul -- Love Sitars' Paint it Black
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:52 AM on June 15, 2011


Susan Boyle's Wild Horses! OH FUCK NOW Y'ALL ARE STABBING ME WITH KNIVES THE PAIN THE PAIN OH GOD I DON'T WANT TO DIE
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:26 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall reading that Otis Redding moped and pouted about having to record "Satisfaction". Apparently, he hated the song, and complained that it had "too many words". Indeed, it was remarkably insensitive to ask him -- a true folk artist, and a genius within a very narrow musical confine -- to sing this culturally inapposite song. This fine post reinforces my impression that all these late 60s experiments in reversing the flow of influence did nothing so much as to point out the vast cultural and generational gulf between the old and new practitioners. For instance, the many attempts at bringing hippie-country and Nashville country artists together around the same time. Listening to Flatt & Scruggs doing hippie music was just embarrassing.
posted by Faze at 4:38 AM on June 15, 2011


a true folk artist, and a genius within a very narrow musical confine

I would argue that with "Dock of the Bay", Otis was rapidly moving out of that "very narrow musical confine". It's just terribly tragic that his untimely death robbed us the privilege of witnessing the musical growth that that song signaled.

Listening to Flatt & Scruggs doing hippie music was just embarrassing.

i don't doubt that it was, but I'm curious: what projects, specifically, are you referring to? The only one that I'm familiar with that might fall into the category you describe is "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", where the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded with a great number of country/bluegrass old timers, including Earl Scruggs. But that record was actually, IMO, very successful, and in fact was pretty much just the youngsters (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) playing and emulating the music of their heroes, in an essentially faithful old time style. Certainly not an embarrassing showing from the old timers in attendance, including Merle Travis, Roy Acuff, Doc Watson and Maybelle Carter.

So yeah, I'm curious, any links to some of the "embarrassing" stuff?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:54 AM on June 15, 2011


For instance, the many attempts at bringing hippie-country and Nashville country artists together around the same time. Listening to Flatt & Scruggs doing hippie music was just embarrassing.

Listening to you call Otis Redding a "genius within a very narrow musical confine" with a straight face is what's embarrassing.
posted by blucevalo at 4:55 AM on June 15, 2011


I don't share Faze's assessment of it as embarrassing, but here is a sampling: The Byrds & Earl Scruggs - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" 1969.

Great post, Flapjax, you've managed to include so many of my musical heroes. Otis, dead at 26 - what a crime.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:13 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dammit, there goes my music diet.

...and here's Aretha doing Eleanor Rigby in a way that makes me actually love a Beatles song. Queen of awesome.
posted by mimi at 6:13 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whlie we wait for Faze to return, here's a few you might not know about:

Lady Jane covered by Rotary Connection (featuring the incredible Minne Ripperton)

Ruby Tuesday also covered by Rotary Connection (with Minne Ripperton)

The Last Time covered by The Blind Boys of Alabama

Miss You covered by Etta James

Paint it Black covered by Eric Burdon and War
(OK Eric and Lee Oskar are white, but the other cats are all black. Previously covered by Eric Burdon and The New Animals.)

Albert King and The Meters among others have also covered Honky Tonk Women, but I don't see any audio online.
posted by Herodios at 6:14 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


for the overwhelming number of casual listeners, Preston will always just be that black guy who played with the Beatles.

Flap, that's a shame, cuz I think of Billy Preston as, yeah, the guy who played Dig A Pony and Get Back on the roof with the Beatles, but also as the guy who hit the charts in the 1970s with:

Outa-Space (cool instrumental)
Will It Go Round in Circles
Nothing from Nothing
Space Race (not quite as cool instrumental)
That's the Way God Planned It

and
I Wrote a Simple Song
posted by Herodios at 6:21 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's an album called "Reggae Summer" that has a lot of Stones covers on it, including the one from Toots: Link to Amazon
posted by Runes at 6:30 AM on June 15, 2011


Gah....Can't. Listen. Until. After. Work.
posted by dry white toast at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2011


Another album that might be of interest to folks who enjoyed these song is Paint It Blue, which isn't quite a cover or tribute album. Amazon's listing doesn't give artists but some of them are mentioned in this review (for those not wanting to click through, folks like Junior Wells and Alvin "Youngblood" Hart).
posted by immlass at 6:41 AM on June 15, 2011


Did somebody say Rolling Stones samples? The biggest Stones break is, no question, 'Honky Tonk Women,' but 'Monkey Man' is another recurring one.

King Tee - Diss You
Ultramagnetic MCs - Traveling at the Speed of Thought
Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina
Mr. Lif - Madness in a Cup
Celph Titled - Playing With Fire

And here's a rap song where the hook is an, uh, interpretation of a Stones song by Betty Wright, who you may know from songs like 'Clean Up Woman' (itself a popular break--man, hip-hop can be recursive):

Lil Wayne - Playing With Fire

posted by box at 6:49 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Last Time covered by The Blind Boys of Alabama

That one is a beautiful gospel number, sung with typically satisfying soulfulness by the Blind Boys, but it isn't a Stones cover, it just shares a title with the a Stones song.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:52 AM on June 15, 2011


(Also, if you like Electric Mud, you might also like '69's The Howlin' Wolf Album. Or maybe not.)
posted by box at 6:55 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


(And there's a reggae-Stones-covers album, Paint it Black.)
posted by box at 6:58 AM on June 15, 2011


The Last Time covered by The Blind Boys of Alabama . . . isn't a Stones cover

Gak! I can't view yoot tube (well, only with difficulty) where I am, and foolishly (lazily) jumped to an invalid conclusion. That's the only one I hadn't heard and -- typically -- got burned. In retrospect, it wouldn't make much sense, would it?
posted by Herodios at 7:02 AM on June 15, 2011


That one always makes me cry, Pa.
posted by maggieb at 7:21 AM on June 15, 2011


Listening to this, it's not hard to see where Jimi and Jimmy got their inspiration.

Are You Experienced? : Released May 12, 1967
Electric Mud : Released October 5, 1968
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:36 AM on June 15, 2011


Not that Muddy Waters isn't totally fucking awazing, but Hendrix didn't rip off his psych album.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:37 AM on June 15, 2011


Funny to think, though, that for the overwhelming number of casual listeners, Preston will always just be that black guy who played with the Beatles.

I thought Billy's Bag was a pretty big hit. Maybe just in the UK?

The only time I ever saw The Stones -- the tour before they became tax exiles in the South of France -- Billy Preston sat in on organ along with Nicky Hopkins on piano, Bobby Keys and Jim Price on horns -- all in a 1000 seat venue.

It's still the best gig I ever did see.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2011


As long as we're talking about the Blind Boys of Alabama, their cover of the Stones' "Just Want to See His Face" is pretty excellent -- if a little divergent, lyricswise.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown doing "Ventilator Blues."
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 8:57 AM on June 15, 2011


Muddy Waters covering The Stones is like The Stones covering Aerosmith.
posted by punkfloyd at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2011


Muddy Waters covering The Stones is like The Stones covering Aerosmith.

Your favourite plagiarst sucks.
posted by Herodios at 9:14 AM on June 15, 2011


More info on the Electric Mud sessions, the album, and its impact.
posted by Herodios at 9:24 AM on June 15, 2011


Not that Muddy Waters isn't totally fucking awazing, but Hendrix didn't rip off his psych album.

Huh. Didn't mean to imply that. Just that Hendrix and page were influenced and inspired by it, which I'm pretty sure they were.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:27 AM on June 15, 2011


"Brown Sugar" is a vile song. That radio stations continue to play it amazes me; It think I heard it in Whole Foods the other day. "Scarred old slaver knows he's doing all right, hear him whip the women just around midnight. Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?"

That said, Little Richard sure sings the hell out of it.
posted by Greenie at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2011


Then Greenie...don't listen to "Some Girls".
posted by punkfloyd at 4:14 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except Keith Richards claims he's not saying "scarred old slaver," he's saying "skydog slaver," skydog being Duane Allman's nick, which Jagger overheard a few times during that muscle shoals date. He just liked the sound of it and they left it in.

Another keith story from the same time -- that's producer Jim Dickinson playing piano on "Wild Horses," not Ian Stewart, who was present, but as a matter of principle refused to play in a minor key: "fucking chinese music."

"Life" is out in paperback now and is the best rock autobiography I've ever read, and maybe the best autobiography period.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:10 PM on June 15, 2011


Paint it Black by Africa
posted by duomo at 8:53 AM on June 18, 2011


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