Who says we don’t do requests? Regular reader Big Stuff emailed to ask for some Bobby Womack and such stuff in a soulful vain. So for him and every other soul brother or sister out there, read on.
Firstly, not Bobby Womack, but The Temptations. ‘Ball Of Confusion’ is a stone cold funk/soul classic, in any of it’s various forms. Five-part harmonies backed by the Funk Brothers is always going to be a winning combination in anyone’s book. Released on the ‘Psychedelic Shack’ album in1970 it took the sound of The Temptations onto a whole other level. Here‘s an unreleased alternative mix of the version you know and love.
If that version is on a whole other level then this version takes the original 4 and a half minutes of funk and propels it into the stratosphere. At 10 minutes + (!), the 1971 Undisputed Truth version is the one that does it for me every time. Every time. The Undisputed Truth was essentially a nom de plume for in-house Motown producer Norman Whitfield. He was getting tired of the Motown sound he had helped make so ubiquitous, and with a love for Sly Stone, Parliament, Jimi Hendrix, Funkadelic and so on, decided he was going to create a similar sound for himself. He took The Temptations basic backing tracks, got in a couple of singers and got to work.
His take on ‘Ball Of Confusion’ features phased, fried and wah-wah-ed guitars, “Right on…take me higher” vocals, the greatest 3 note bassline ever and quite possibly the goddam kitchen sink. Basically, Whitfield took The Temptations out of Detroit and put them on a Greyhound bus with a one-way ticket to flare city. Listen to it with loud with the lights out and prepare to fry yer mind.
The Undisputed Truth
You might be surprised to learn this, but Bobby Womack was the writer of the Rolling Stones 1964 hit ‘It’s All Over Now’. Or maybe you knew that already. You probably do know that his track ‘Across 110th Street’ was used in Tarantino’s blaxploitation homage ‘Jackie Brown’. And you’re probably also aware that it was also used in the 1972 film of the same name. (110th Street, not Jackie Brown)The soundtrack for the film features 3 versions of the same track. The first one is the one you know and love. The other 2 are more interesting. Firstly, there’s an instrumental version that sounds like the incidental music in a long-forgotten episode of Starsky & Hutch. It also sounds like the funkiest elevator muzak you could ever wish for. It’d sound great on Celebrity Come Dancing. Honestly.
There’s also Across 110th Street (Part II). Featuring minimum vocals and maximum brass stabs and wah-wah, it should get those ants in yer pants a-dancin’. Get on the good foot!
D’you want to hear my Louis Walsh impression? Read this with an Irish accent….
“Y’know what? You’ve got a lotta soul in your voice, a lot of soul.” Sheeesh. The word ‘soul‘ is bandied about these days in front of anyone who can hold a note for 2 seconds. Louis Walsh wouldnae know soul even if a huge afro continually kicked his arse shouting “I feel good!” at the same time. Those X-Faxtor contestants are really quite sadly deluded and buffoons like wee Walshy don’t help matters.
Real soul, real soul is all about feeling. And no-one felt it better than Aretha. With 2 kids to her name by the time she was 16, she’s lived it more than most of us will ever know. Her 1967 version of ‘Chain of Fools’ is a belter. Even better is the rare version featuring Joe South’s extended tremolo’d twanging guitar. Man, you should hear it! Here it is. Dig it brothers and sisters!