Curren$y - Living for the City

My World is Empty Without You” was penned by the Motown powerhouse Holland-Dozier-Holland. The song was written for the superstar girl group The Supremes but only peaked at number 5 on the charts. The track was covered by The Smith Connection on their 1972 release Under My Wings.

I couldn’t find much info on the group. They were on the Music Merchant label, which was a subsidiary of the short-lived Invictus, ran by Holland and Dozier. Their album was produced by Ronald Dunbar who did a lot of work for Holland-Dozier-Holland and also appeared on several Parliament-Funkadelic songs. Regardless, The Smith Connection’s cover of “My World is Empty Without You” is a blazer.

The track was sampled most recently by Curren$y for his cut “Living for the City“. It was also sampled by Keith Murray and P Brothers. The song has several change ups and break downs which give it a ton of sampling flexibility.

It’s worth mentioning that the Smith Connection album is straight heat. Other tracks have been used by Pete Rock, Rakim, Evidence, AZ, and Cormega. If you see it, pick it up.

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A.D.O.R. - Let it All Hang Out

The song “California Soul” has been sampled a few times. The most notable being Marlena Shaw‘s version used by Gangstarr (DJ Premier). This is a lesser known version of “California Soul” by the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

Gerald Wilson was a Jazz-band leader who decided to take a Soul/R&B approach with the album named after the title track. Other notable tracks on the LP include “Light My Fire“, “Lullaby from Rosemary’s Baby” and the Lalo Schifrin cut “Down Here on the Ground“. Pete Rock used the title cut intro for the underground classic by A.D.O.R. “Let it All Hang Out“.

Many of you probably never heard of A.D.O.R. but he was Latino rapper originally from Washington Heights. He eventually moved to Mount Vernon where he became friends with Pete Rock. Being that they were friends, Pete Rock decided to give him a beat for his debut single in 1992 – “Let it All Hang Out“. Despite an underground classic, he never really caught on to mainstream appeal. Check out his album from 2003 “Classic Bangerz, Vol. 1″.

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George Kerr - If This World Were Mine

Why am I posting up a mediocre cover of a Marvin Gaye classic? Because George Kerr deserves some credit. He’s not the best known artist amongst soul and sample fans, but he’s done more for Hip-Hop than you probably realize.

Kerr hails from New Jersey and is responsible for producing some of Hip-Hop’s favorite breaks including The WhatnautsWhy Can’t People Be Colors To?” and The Skull SnapsIt’s a New Day“. He worked with several other (sampled) artists such as The Manhattans, The Escorts, Linda Jones, and the O’Jays. Later on, he worked with Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill Records and produced several of their Hip-Hop/Electro singles.

If This World Were Mine” is off his debut album from 1970. This version of the song is… well… 8 minutes too long. George only sings for about 2 minutes. The rest of the song is some woman making really sexual noises begging him to “not kiss her” but eventually asks him to at the end of the song. This may not be the best work by Kerr, but give it a listen and then research some of his production work.

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Mama Lion - Ain’t no Sunshine

Mama Lion was a rock/blues/soul group out of California that dropped 2 albums in the early 70’s. The album pictured above, “Preserve Wildlife“, is credited to being produced and directed by Artie Ripp who is notoriously famous for signing Billy Joel as a solo artist and then ripping him off for the next 10 years. The lead singer of Mama Lion, Lynn Carey, is an interesting chick. She originally started her career as a model/actress and then formed her band shortly after being featured as Penthouse‘s “Pet of the Month“. With that being said, it makes sense that this album is a gatefold which features a topless picture of her breast-feeding a lion cub!?

Mama Lion does Bill Withers justice by covering his hit “Aint’ No Sunshine” in a rocked out soul version, with blues undertones. Her raspy voice fits perfectly with the deep bassline, rock guitars, and organs backing her. Her version probably has more in commmon with the Lyn Collins cover than Bill Withers, but equally as dope. Check it out.

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The Shirelles do Al Green

Here is another dope cover track from the Shirelles self-titled album from 1972. This time, the trio takes on Al Green and his classic cut “Let’s Stay Together“. The sound of this version is totally different from Willie Mitchell‘s trademark Hi Records productions. The track sweet soul all the way through with horns, strings, piano, and a soulful/funky bassline. No one can top the Al Green version, but this one does come pretty close. You decide.

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The Shirelles do Marvin Gaye

I posted up a Shirelles cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” last week. To my surprise, the track got 300+ plays on YouTube in 1 day. I decided to post a few more of the choice cuts from the album since it seems the people like it. For in-depth info on the Shirelles album and the group, check out the previous post.

In this track, The Shirelles take on the master, Marvin Gaye – medley style. In a pure funky and soulful 6 minute groove, they take on the hits from Gaye’s landmark album “What’s Going On?” including Mercy Mercy Me“, “Inner City Blues“, and “What’s Going On?. The sweet harmonies do justice to the Marvin Gaye classics, giving them a much different feel than the originals.

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Eleanor Rigby

I don’t like The Beatles. I actually think they are the most over-rated band in the history of music. However, I do like 2 of their songs “Eleanor Rigby” and “Come Together“. Given their immense popularity, there are hundreds of Beatles cover songs/albums floating around. Some are good, some are terrible, and some are amazing. Bossa Rio’s version of “Eleanor Rigby” is one of those amazing covers.

Bossa Rio is a Brazilian Jazz/Bossa Nova group on Blue Thumb records. Blue Thumb dabbled in several genres, but many of the releases were Jazz-oriented. The overall sound of Bossa Rio is extremely similiar to Brasil 66 so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the group was produced by the oft-sampled Sergio Mendes and recorded in A&M‘s studio.

Bossa’s version of “Eleanor Rigby” is given a laid-back, lounge feel by changing the whole groove to a bossa nova beat. The female/male vocal harmonies, guitar, organ, and strings make for a super relaxing track, perfect for sitting on a beach sipping a Corona – if you can get past their Porteguese accents. Check it out.

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The Shirelles - Ain’t No Sunshine

The Shirelles, from Passaic, NJ (holla!), are best known for their string of hits in the early 1960’s. Songs like “Mama Said“, “Dedicated to the one I Love“, “Soldier Boy“, and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” were chart toppers pre-dating the Motown sound. In the later part of the 1960’s, the British invasion was fully rocking and soul took on a harder sound, driven by the Civil Rights movement. Like many other groups at the time, The Shirelles had trouble keeping up.

Many labels gave them a second shot during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in hopes they would return to their previous glory. Unfortunately, that never really happened. One of their later attempts was a self-titled album released on RCA in 1972. While it didn’t chart, it’s ripe with cover versions of dope Soul cuts (many of which were sampled). Songs include Joe Simon‘s “Drowning in a Sea of Love“, Al Green‘s “Let’s Stay Together“, and Marvin Gaye‘s “Inner City Blues / What’s Going On“.

My personal favorite is a cover of the Bill Wither‘s classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine“. The song starts out with some bongos and leads into a very Alchemist-ish horn loop. Not sure if it’s been sampled or not? Once the song kicks in, it has a slightly reggae feel to it. Check it out.

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