Got To Get You Into My Life / Eleanor Rigby – The Third Wave

The Third Wave were an American-Filipino vocal jazz group featuring five teenage sisters from San Fransisco – Georgie, Reggie, Jamie, Stevie and Jody – who released one album Here and Now in 1970, and what a gorgeous platter of vocal harmonies, inspired arrangements and production it is. I mean, just listen to those voices and that piano solo on Got to Get You Into My Life.

Eleanor Rigby and Got to Get You Into My Life first appeared on The Beatles 1966 album Revolver, with the latter being iintended as an homage to Motown as well as (according to McCartney) “an ode to pot.”

The Third Wave presumably took their name from an experimental social movement created by California high school history teacher Ron Jones in 1967. Intended to demonstrate to his students how the German population could have accepted the actions of the Nazi regime during the rise of the Third Reich, as with a lot of social psychology experiments in the sixties, things got out a bit out of hand.

The late George Duke was a prolific keyboard player, bandleader, solo artist, music producer and musical director for film and television. As well as working with artists ranging from Sonny Rollins to Frank Zappa and Michael Jackson, he recorded 32 solo albums and his tracks have been sampled by hip-hop artists such as A tribe Called Quest and MF Doom. American bassist Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) recorded a version of Duke’s For Love (I Come Your Friend) for his 2011 album The Golden Age of Apocalypse.

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Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Charlie Palmieri

Charlie Palmieri’s cover of Uptight (Everthing’s Alright) appeared on his 1968 album Latin Bugalo. First released as a single in 1966, Uptight was written by Motown songwriters Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby to fit 15 year old Stevie Wonder’s new deeper voice, as it had recently dropped. Wanting to record a song with a driving beat along the lines of The Rolling Stones(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Stevie presented Moy with the chorus to the song but that was all he had. Cosby worked on an arrangement and Moy finished the lyrics on the day of the recording but as she hadn’t had time to find a braille translation, she sang the song to him as he was recording it, one line ahead of him, and he simply repeated the lines as he heard them, with Moy later commenting that “he never missed a beat”.

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You Keep Me Hanging On – Ken Boothe

Reggae legend Ken Boothe first recorded his cover of You Keep Me Hanging On in 1968 for Studio One. In 1983 he recorded it again for the Nura label, but the Studio One version produced by Coxsone Dodd is definitely the better of those two. In 2017 he recorded it yet again with Inna de Yard; another good version but I still like the first recording best.

You Keep Me Hangin’ On was originally recorded by The Supremes for Motown in 1966 and was their eighth number one in the U.S, following their previous single You Can’t Hurry Love.

Reach Out – The Pleasure Seekers

It’s a real shame there isn’t a better quality clip of this out there, because not only is it a great cover, it’s a great perfomance, especially from an 18 year old Suzi Quatro on lead vocals, putting out some spectacular sixties dance moves.

The Pleasure Seekers were formed in Detroit, 1964, and were one of the first all-female groups to be signed to a major record label (Mercury). Founded by Patti Quatro, the band featured three other Quatro sisters – Suzi, Arlene and later, Nancy. In 1969 the group changed their name to Cradle and adopted a sound more akin to Black Sabbath. A couple of years later, Suzi was signed by British producer Mickie Most and began a successful solo career that continues on to this day.

Reach Out was first recorded for Motown in 1966 by The Four Tops. Written by Holland, Dozier and Holland, Lamont Dozier said that he wanted to write a song which contained “a journey of emotions with sustained tension, like a bolero.” He developed the lyrics with Eddie Holland, stating that they were strongly influenced by Bob Dylan: “We wanted Levi [Stubbs, Four Tops vocalist] to shout-sing the lyrics… as a shout-out to Dylan“.

I Want You Back – The Esso Trinidad Steel Band

The Esso Trinidad Steel Band’s cover of the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back appeared on their 1971 album Esso.

Founded in Trinidad in 1942, The Tripoli Steel Band changed their name to the Esso Trinidad Steel Band when the oil company began sponsoring them. When Esso ceased its backing, the band changed their name to the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band and spent over two years supporting Liberace.

Released in 1969, I Want You Back was the Jackson 5’s first single and is one of the most sampled songs in history.

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I Heard it Through the Grapevine – The Slits

The Slits’ cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine first appeared on the B-side of their single Typical Girls in 1979.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong for Motown in 1966. The song was first recorded by The Miracles, although their version did not appear until 1968. Marvin Gaye’s was the second recording and appeared on his 1968 album In the Groove, only later being released as a single after the success of the third recording of the song by Gladys Knight and the Pips, which was the first time the song was released as a single, in 1967.

The Slits were formed in London, 1976 by members of The Flowers of Romance and The Castrators. Their 1979 debut album Cut is regarded as one of the defining releases of the post-punk period.

The best cover versions make you hear a song you thought you knew in a completely different way, and the very best cover versions can go on to supplant the original in your consciousness. These days the Slits’ version of I Heard it Through the Grapevine is the version that plays in my head whenever I hear the title.

All Along The Watchtower – The Brothers and Sisters Gospel Choir

From Dylan’s Gospel, a 1969 album by The Brothers and Sisters Gospel Choir, a one-off gathering of Los Angeles session singers. Produced by Lou Adler, who went on to work on Carole King’s Tapestry, and arranged by Gene Page, noted for his work for Motown, the performers were at the time largely unknown, but included Gloria Jones who recorded the original version of Tainted Love as well as Edna Wright, Merry Clayton, Ruby Johnson, Shirley Matthews, Clydie King, Patrice Holloway and Julia Tillman.

All Along the Watchtower was originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967. The Jimi Hendrix version was released in 1968. Dylan said of the Hendrix version: “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”