Cover Versions, Get This!, Hard-to-find

Third Degree Burnin’

Here’s a thing. In the post-Winehouse search for gin-u-wine authentic blue eyed soul, any pretty young thing with a gritty voice and a decent set of breasts found themselves in a dusty, analogue recording studio listening carefully to whatever it was that the svengali their record company had plucked from indieland’s dole queue was telling them to do. Leader of the pack was Duffy; 60’s-steeped, Dusty-voiced (kinda) and produced by former hip young gunslinger Bernard Butler. Mercy, with its snapping snare and northern soul Perry boys in the video was, I’m not ashamed to say, a real favourite of mine way back in ’08.

It isn’t to hard to imagine that the Duffy track, with its wonky Stand By Me bassline and cooi-ing ‘yeah yeah yeah’ backing vocals was actually a cover of an obscure soul nugget from the late 60s. Which is exactly what some enterprising group did. The Third Degree add proper soul boy black vocals, a smokin’ pistol crack of clipped guitar and a horn section from heaven, making Mercy their own, straightouttanineteensixtyeight. Aye, it has the ever-so-slightly desperate whiff of cynical record company product placement and marketing (from the hip in ’93 Acid Jazz label), and was probably produced with the aid of a demographic spreadsheet, but drop yer snobbery for a minute and listen! Craig Charles played this on his show at the weekend and it’s terrific.

This was released in 2009! Why wasn’t I made aware of this until  now, eh? Tsk.

Listening to that cover of Mercy reminds me of The Seed by The Roots. It has a similar live-in-the-studio, retro-coated, vintage production which belies it’s relative modernity. And before you start thinking ‘Lenny Kravitz’, think again. The Seed is ace. A monster hybrid of live drums, clipped funk guitar and a duet of hip-hop stylee “1! 2! 1! 2’s” and properly sung vocals, I think you’ll like it. Released in 2002 (10 years ago! Ouch!) it is that rare thing – a hip-hop record made by a hip-hop group who play their instruments rather than simply sample and loop old Curtis Mayfield b sides. No doubt about it, The Roots can play. If you cannae shake yer bootee to this, there’s nothing I can help you with here. Dig it, soul brothers and sisters.

Useless Fact: Paul Weller loves The Seed.

*Bonus Track!

What’s that y’say? Old tracks re-done in the soul stylee? I’ve blogged this before, but here‘s Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed & The Trueloves making Ace Of Spades sound like Otis Redding with ants in his pants. Lemmy cannae like this. I think you might.

5 thoughts on “Third Degree Burnin’”

  1. While you’re talking about retro soul tunes that are actually modern I’m presuming you know ‘Cold Game’ By Myron & E & The Soul Investigators? One of my favourite singles of the last decade, especially the Hammond solo. Love a good bit of Hammond.

  2. And anybody who likes the Roots should dig out Michael Franti’s first album as Spearhead, which manages to be a funky hip hop meets Sly Stone. One of my favourite albums ever.

  3. Simon – thanks for the tips. I’d never heard ‘Cold Game’ by Myron & E & The Soul Investigators before. Like it!

    Jason – thanks for the kind comments. Much appreciated.

Comments are closed.