Friday, April 21, 2006


Johnson 3+1 - Testify

Occasionally I hear songs that leave me scratching my head and stating "it's a wonder they didn't get sued" because the songs are nothing but reworking of other tunes. These songs, naturally, fall short of being cover versions because they have new titles and claim different songwriting credits and are just different enough to not be the real thing. Several songs immediately come to mind: "Ruby Dean" by Bobby Womack (later recorded by Joe Hicks), which took on the Kenny Rogers song "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town"; "I Could Never Be Happy" by The Emotions, which liberally borrowed from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," as done by Diana Ross; "The Ballad of Mr. Pitiful" by Charlie Whitehead, which does an awesome job working around the Otis Redding classic; and today's selection, which took Archie Bell & The Drells' 1968 mega-hit "Tighten Up," added some crowd noise and new lyrics and got busy.

This MP3 came from Barry "Soul Brother" Fowden, who also has a great page about the Venture label, on which the song was recorded. (Barry, if you want me to remove this file please let me know. It's just too hot of a groove for me to sit on!) While you're reading the article, check out his entire Soul Cellar website, which has lots of good material about many artists (especially Phillip Mitchell) and is the home of his awesome radio show, which he does more frequently (and better) than I do!


Barry said...

After all those
glad to help.. my motto has always been.. spread the word....and keep listening to the Radio Show(every 2 weeks)


electrovybe said...

This single was actually the first recording of The Brothers (George & Louis) Johnson + another brother ( i think Thommy/Thomas Johnson).
The single is mentioned on the Bros. Johnson's MySpace :

electrovybe said...

There's actually a better history-description of
"Johnson 3 + 1" on their Facebook-biography :

"...Guitarist/vocalist George and bassist/vocalist Louis formed the band Johnson Three Plus One with older brother Tommy, and their cousin Alex Weir, while attending school in Los Angeles, California.[1] When they became professionals, the band backed such touring R&B acts as Bobby Womack and the Supremes. George and Louis Johnson later joined Billy Preston's band, and wrote Music in My Life and The Kids and Me for him before leaving his group in 1973. In 1976, The Brothers covered the Beatles' song, Hey Jude, for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II..."