Friday, September 15, 2006

Dave Hamilton Week: Funky Permutations

The Ebonettes - Just a Mistake (aka Side By Side)

The fact that Dave Hamilton's master tapes were far from efficiently organized, and the fact that Dave was willing to try out multiple versions of songs built around certain rhythm tracks, has caused the Ace compilers to feature certain songs multiple times on the Detroit Dancers series and other compilations featuring Hamilton's recordings. Sometimes it's a matter of finding "finished" masters of songs that appeared on earlier volumes (James Lately's "Love, Friends and Money" on Volume 3 of Detroit Dancers features strings and a quicker tempo than the version appearing on Volume 1) or finding versions of the song by other artists (Little Ann takes on "Sweep It Out In The Shed" on Volume 3). Then sometimes it's just a case of Hamilton experimenting, like in the case of "Ain't It a Groove" from Wednesday's post and today's selection.

"Just a Mistake," also titled "Side By Side," was recorded in alternate versions by the Ebonettes (apparently a completely unknown group) and the Barrino Brothers, with either party providing back up on the other recording. Although the Barrino Brothers' version of this tune, which appears on Volume 2 of Detroit Dancers, is probably the best-realized version of the song, as the group (who would go on to have some fame on Invictus after their tenure on Hamilton's TCB label) provides solid leads and background vocals for the song's interesting lyrics, I prefer the Ebonettes' version which appeared on Volume 1. I particularly like how the lead singer trades lines with an uncredited male vocalist, who I think probably was one of the Barrino Brothers, and that the background vocals, although buried somewhat in the mix, are very nice. The backing track cooks nicely also, featuring nice horn work and a good funky groove. Another Ebonettes take of the song appears on Volume 3, but it's the weakest of the three featured so far - although the different background vocals demonstrate how "Side By Side" is a good alternate title, the whole performance comes off just wrong to me, from some of the notes the girls sing to the stilted delivery the lead singer gives the lyrics. Fortunately the featured version was the first one I heard! It's great femme funk.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - If all goes well this weekend, in addition to two more "Dave Hamilton Week" posts I will record and upload Episode #11 of the podcast!)

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