Thursday, March 13, 2008
Stu, That's Deep!
Stu Gardner - Home on the Range (Everybody Needs a Home)
Stu Gardner has been discussed twice on the blog in connection with funky 45 collaborations with Bill Cosby. Gardner's still-ongoing career extends much further, however, to include great soul, funk and jazz sides for quite a few labels and work as a composer for quite a few television programs (including "The Cosby Show," "Living Single" and "Little Bill," just to name three). I've always been taken by Gardner's vocals, which are just overflowing with soul, whether as part of the Cosby sides I featured earlier or on more serious fare, like today's selection.
"Home on the Range" was one of his sides for Hugh Masekela's Chisa label, which was distributed by Motown from 1969 to 1971 (it's actually the A-side of the first Motown-distributed Chisa single). To be fair, when you think of deep soul sides, you don't think of an adaptation of the old chestnut "Home on the Range," but Gardner manages to pull it off on this record. Stu really brings home the goods with his vocal performance, and the dramatic arrangement and strong background vocals (underscoring the deeper "everybody needs a home" theme that gives gravitas to such a soulful treatment) seal the deal. It's one of those tunes that makes you go "wow" when you first hear it. Evidently, somebody agreed, as a longer take of the tune would receive a second issue on Chisa, and Gardner would revisit it on his Enterprise LP Stu Gardner and The Sanctified Sound.