Cover Versions, Gone but not forgotten, Studio master tapes

Phew, What A Scorcher ‘n All That…

*Disclaimer 1

I wrote this on Saturday, telling myself I’d finish it later and went out to enjoy the weather. It’s now Tuesday and the storm clouds are gathering.

Y’know, I make a point of digging deep to turn up the rarest of the rare when sometimes it’s the obvious ones that are the best. With the school holidays nearly over, the weather has (naturally) taken a turn for the better and we’re currently basking in what the tabloids of yore might refer to as a heatwave. Phew, what a scorcher and all that. There’s no denying. I’m in shorts. I’ve cut the grass. The smells of barbecuing meats are wafting from somewhere across my back door. The shrieks and high pitched laughter from wee ones in paddling pools is competing for ear space with the football on the radio and I’m contemplating painting my fence, safe in the knowledge that the job’ll be done before the rain comes on. Because at the moment it looks like we’ve as much chance of rain as the Costa del Sol. Great, eh!

Heat Wave was a 1963 hit single for Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. From the collective pen of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the oft-forgotten about songwriting team who are up there with your Lennons & McCartneys and Jaggers & Richards in the Sixties Premier League of hit songwriting teams, it’s sometimes referred to as (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave. Straight off the Motown production line, it’s a Funk Brothers piano-led, hand-clapping, gospel-tinged, giddy call-and-response shout-out to the joys of being in love, ell you vee love and all that, and it gave the Vandellas their first big hit single, reaching number 4 on the Billboard charts. Since then, it’s been covered by all manner of artists, from label mates The Supremes (a facsimile of the original), via celebrity coat ‘n hat checker Cilla Black (Surprise, Surprise, it’s very good!) to Linda Ronstadt’s mid 70s FM-friendly AOR version, replete with subtle bongos and meanderingly polite soft rock guitar solo, the sort of thing you might expect a half-arsed covers band to be playing at a Holiday Inn in the background of a TV movie. The most effervescent covers tend to have been by the boys. Both The Who and The Jam channeled their inner mod and bashed out R ‘n B tinged faithful reworkings. The Who’s version is fast. The Jam’s is faster.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave:

Martha & the Vandellasoriginal

Diana Ross & The Supremesversion

Cilla Black‘s version

The Who‘s version

Linda Ronstadt‘s version

The Jam‘s version

Martha & the Vandellas‘ vocal-only studio outtake. These vocals gained the group a Grammy Nomination. And rightly so. They’re terrific!

*Bonus Track!

Martha & the Vandellas‘ vocal-only take of Jimmy Mack.

That fence painting job? I’m just contemplating, though. Not doing. This weather doesn’t happen too often. I think I’m going to get some sounds on and sit in the sun and enjoy it. I might even pour myself a drink. Costa del Sol, or Costa del Peroni, it won’t matter.

*Disclaimer 2

I’ve since painted the fence. It looks fine.

3 thoughts on “Phew, What A Scorcher ‘n All That…”

  1. The NME review of The Jam’s Setting Sons when it came out in 1979 described the inclusion of Heat Wave as ‘incongruous’ – I remember as a kid having to look up what it meant.

  2. Coming just after The Eton Rifles, it’s hardly out of place at all. A great way to end an album.

    I bet whoever wrote the NME review had to check what ‘incongruous’ meant as well.

Comments are closed.