Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shoutin' With Freddie Scott

Freddie Scott - (You) Got What I Need

As a kid, Biz Markie's off-key, overwrought singing on the rap classic "Just a Friend" was funny but strangely soulful: "You ... got what I nee-eed ... but you say he's just a friend, you say he's just a friend - oh bay-bee ..." It wasn't until I was an adult that I heard today's selection, from which Markie created his tune, and I am so glad I heard it, because otherwise Biz would have to be the last word on the topic! (Just for the record, I do think "Just a Friend" is a great record in its own right; a recent remake of the tune by Little Mario, with a guest appearance by Markie, reflects the song's staying power.)

Freddie Scott had hit big for Bert Berns' Shout concern with the 1966 #1 R&B hit "Are You Lonely For Me?" This success was a break in what had been a drought for Scott, who had hit earlier for Colpix but then floundered when that label went under and Columbia Records, who inherited his contract, attempted to pass him off as a pop-oriented balladeer. "Are You Lonely For Me?" brought a funky Southern soul vibe to Scott's work that really showcased his deep vocals. They stuck with the funk but gave it a more uptown flair for today's selection, with great results. "(You) Got What I Need" starts off with the piano riff that Biz Markie built "Just a Friend" out of and then opens up into full orchestration. The background singers are not as churchy as they were on "Are You Lonely For Me?" but they lend strong support right out of the gate. But the tune belongs to Scott, who slings the lyrics over that great rhythm (check out the second verse for a master class on how to sing over a breakbeat) and really captures the spirit of the song. It's a great record, and it ended up being Scott's last big hit.

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