Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ryan Shaw, Cover Songs and Two Coincidences (Pt. 1)

Ryan Shaw - Lookin' for a Love

Jimmy Ellis & The Riverview Spiritual Singers - I'm Waiting on the Lord

It's funny how coincidences can happen. I recently burned an MP3 disc to keep in the car and while listening to it over the last few days it turns out that there are two situations on the disc where new R&B singer Ryan Shaw and vintage gospel artists happened to cover the same classic soul songs. Today I'll feature one such pairing and will discuss the other tomorrow.

Georgia native Ryan Shaw has begun to make some noise with his debut CD, This Is Ryan Shaw (Columbia), which finds the 26-year-old stage veteran (most notably from Tyler Perry's I Know I've Been Changed) doing his thing with covers of an interesting range of soul classics (most notably a fine cover of The Sharpees' "Do The 45") and more contemporary-oriented stuff. I'll defer to his official website for his bio and details about the CD. I'm pretty impressed with the album, although I admit that I think there's just a touch too much of a "pop" sheen to it in some places. His cover of the classic "Lookin' for a Love" is pretty good, although the "pop" problem appears here and there. All in all, though, it's a fun version of the Valentinos / Bobby Womack classic, and I enjoy listening to it.

Gospel covers of soul songs are always interesting, and I encourage everyone to check out the feature that John Glassburner and Karl Tsigdinos did for the Sir Shambling deep soul website on this topic (see links section). To discuss a gospel cover of "Lookin' for a Love," however, is to discuss an unbroken circle of sorts, considering that when the Valentinos made their splash in 1962 with the SAR single they were merely doing a secular version of "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," which the group had recorded earlier for the same label as the Womack Brothers. Jimmy Ellis (no relation to the "Preacher" namesake who recorded "Put Your Hoe In My Row" and other rare soul gems) and the Riverview Spiritual Singers' reworking of "Lookin'" seems to have been recorded after Bobby Womack's remake of the tune had topped the R&B charts in the '70s. I particularly like the Ellis track because of the driving "wookah wookah" guitar line, over which the falsetto-heavy group effectively puts over their new lyrics.

(Special thanks to John Glassburner for the Jimmy Ellis track, and thanks to Dale Yarger for the correction re: the group's name.)


Roger said...

Some more records for my wants list. Fantastic stuff.

mochilli said...

Greetings from Louisville Ky, home of Jimmy Ellis & the RSS. His version, from the self title LP ATLANTIC SD R-024, was recorded in Sept of 1968.