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Real Moody Blues

Or Under The Covers with Mick Jagger. Now there’s a thought ladies. He’d be all hips, lips ‘n finger slips. Gads!

In the mid 70s, the Rolling Stones released Metamorphosis, a long-delayed compilation of demos, outtakes and Decca-era odds ‘n sods. Although subsequent releases would include a few of the tracks, Metamorphosis didn’t stay in print very long, becoming something of a Stones’ collectable (until recently, that is, when it was made available on SACD). It’s rumoured that some of the demo tracks (eg Heart Of Stone and Out Of Time) featured uncredited appearances from seasoned sessioneers Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan and that Mick Jagger was in fact the only actual Rolling Stone on some of these tracks. Included amongst the flotsam and jetsom of discarded Stones nuggets was I Don’t Know Why, a cover of Stevie Wonder’s I Don’t Know Why (I Love You). Recorded the very night that Brian Jones died/drowned/was done in (July 3rd 1969), it finds the Stones in fine form, with the newly recruited Mick Taylor contributing a fine slide guitar solo to the proceedings. Loose and funky, with its Gimme Shelter guitars, brass section and keys courtesy of the ugly Stone, Ian Stewart, it’s the real moody blues, all descending atmospherics and impending sense of doom. Shame on Jimmy Miller who in his wisdom decided to fade it out just as the band were beginning to sizzle and things were getting interesting.

The original Stevie Wonder version was released alongside My Cherie Amour and found its way onto either the a-side or the b-side, depending on which ‘territory’ (to use horrible record company speak) you were in, creating what must surely be the strangest pairing of Stevie tracks on the one slab of vinyl – the sugar coated lovey dovey one side coupled with the fuggy paranoia of the other side. I know which side I prefer.

And talking of saccharine-sweet, even the Jackson 5 got in on the act.  Their version is from their second LP (ABC) released in 1970 and is full of little Michael’s trademark whoops, yelps and heart-stopping helium high vocals. It builds and builds on a crescendo of strings and the pistol-crack of the Motown snare, the Jackson brothers allowing Michael to take centre stage as if his life depended on it (which, of course given the reputation of Father Jackson, it kinda did).  He nails it, of course. It’s pretty bloody fantastic if truth be told.

He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother.

*Bonus Track! Saving the best for last…..

Stevie Wonder is a musical genius, there is no debate over this. Child prodigy, autocratic studio pioneer, groundbreaking, etc etc (you know all this already). By 1974 he was on his 17th album, the unfashionable and often overlooked Fulfillingness First Finale. Coming towards the end of a phenomenal run of albums – 1971’s Music Of My Mind, 1972’s Talking Book, 1973’s Innervisions, 1976’s Songs In The Key Of Life. What was lazy-arsed Stevie up to in 1975, eh? Well, given that Songs In The Key Of Life is a double, you could still argue that he was making an album a year. That’s an album a year, Thom Yorke. And everyone a bona fide stone cold classic. Food for thought, eh? Anyway, Fulfillingness First Finale is equal parts dancefloor Stevie and socio-political pop Stevie. You Haven’t Done Nothin’ is, rather thrillingly, Son of Superstition, right down to the funky clavinet, horn breakdown and hi-hat heavy drums. What’s particularly impressive is that except for the bass guitar part, Stevie plays everything on this record. Everything! He even ropes in our old friends the Jackson 5 to sing the ‘doo doo wop‘ backing vocals. And he took it all the way to Number 1.

If this doesn’t have you doing the white man ain’t got no rhythm but digs it anyway dance, there’s no way back for you. If you only download one thing from Plain Or Pan this year….etc etc….blah blah blah……..

2 thoughts on “Real Moody Blues”

  1. Three brilliant versions of yet another great song that I hadn’t laid ears on before. Top work sir. Fulfillingness was the first Stevie W album I ever bought (2nd hand shop, Jamaica St, 1987) Good to hear your praise for that ripper bit of work too.

  2. Craigee Boy
    sorry for tardiness, but better late than never.
    We all know the famous Stevie early 70’s trio/quad of classic albums that quite frankly changed modern music. But did you know that he also released a trio of Fantastic Funky singles in the early 70’s, all about the same person – “You Havent Done Nothing”, “Dont You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”, and “He’s |Mistra Know it all”……………
    Yep, the one and only Richard Milhous Nixon!

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