21 May 2006
Mad Dogs and Originals
Listening again to Joe Cocker's live album of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, I was startled to realise that this is now a generation old, a bit over 35 years.
At the time it was a joy, and I still marvel at how far rock'n'roll had come since my early teens, when the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion took off. Joe Cocker wouldn't have been a star in 1963, he would've been laughed off the stage, and yet here he was in 1970, unkempt, idiosyncratic, unlikely and just wonderful.
I was thinking, as I do, about the sources of the songs, songs that were often reworked and transformed into something fresh. Apart from Cocker's (then) alarming delivery, credit is due to the arrangers, notably Chris Stainton - a member of Cocker's Grease Band - and Leon Russell, who produced Cocker in the studio and was the musical director of Mad Dogs & Englishmen.
Here's a list, with writers and original versions. I'm guessing that the Ray Charles versions of some of these songs would've been the significant ones for Joe Cocker.
Honky Tonk Women (Mick Jagger - Keith Richard)
The Rolling Stones, 1969.
Sticks and Stones (Titus Turner - Henry Glover)
Ray Charles, 1960.
Ray Charles had the original release: an earlier recording by co-writer Titus Turner was unreleased at the time. It was also recorded in the 60s by Billy Fury, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, The Righteous Brothers, and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and others.
Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton)
Julie London, 1955.
Slow burning torch song rocked up by Leon Russell.
Bird On The Wire (Leonard Cohen)
Judy Collins, 1968.
Recorded by Leonard Cohen himself (in 1969), among others.
Feelin' Alright (Dave Mason)
Writer Dave Mason was a member of Traffic, along with Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.
Superstar (Leon Russell - Bonnie Bramlet + Delaney Bramlett)
Delaney & Bonnie, 1969.
Nothing to do with the rock opera, but a song originally issued as Groupie. More details at my own Superstar page at PopArchives.com.au.
Let's Go Get Stoned (Valerie Simpson - Nickolas Ashford - Josephine Armstead)
The Coasters, 1965.
Once again, Ray Charles had a version (1966), among others.
I'll Drown In My Own Tears (Henry Glover)
Sonny Thompson & Lula Reed, 1951.
Original title: I'll Drown In My Tears. Notably recorded by Ray Charles (1960) among others.
When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (Isaac Hayes - David Porter)
Sam & Dave, 1966, but hang on a minute:
The Originals gives the original to Charlie Rich, by a couple of months.
I've Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding - Jerry Butler)
Otis Redding, 1965.
Full original title: I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now).
Girl From The North Country (Bob Dylan)
Bob Dylan (with Johnny Cash), 1969.
On Nashville Skyline.
Please Give Peace A Chance (Leon Russell - Bonnie Bramlett)
A Mad Dogs & Englishmen original? I think so.
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (John Lennon - Paul McCartney)
The Beatles, 1969.
On Abbey Road. Cocker had previously recorded this on the 1969 Leon Russell-produced album Joe Cocker!Space Captain (Matthew Moore)
This is the original, here on Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Matthew Moore was one of the band. Matthew Moore's own version didn't appear until 1979, on his album The Sport Of Guessing. (The travel guide company Lonely Planet was named after co-founder Tony Wheeler's mishearing of lovely planet in Space Captain.)
The Letter (Wayne Carson Thompson)
The Box Tops, 1967.
Written by Nashville-based singer-songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson, aka Wayne Carson, whose demo version that 'sounded like the Everly Bros' was The Box Tops' source. Wayne Carson released his own version on Life Lines (1972).
Delta Lady (Leon Russell)
Joe Cocker, 1969..
Studio version on the album Joe Cocker! that predates Mad Dogs & Englishmen
[Link to 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' at Amazon.com.]