If you’ve ever wondered what Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix might have sounded like together, this southern soul gem is for you. "Mercy, Mercy", off of See-Saw, Don Covay’s 1966 LP reportedly has the young Mr. Hendrix playing session man (though Covay was reportedly no slouch himself). What sticks out even more though is Covay’s tenacious shout-speak bluesy wail, which played a large influence on Mick Jagger’s vocal style. The song itself is a funky-blues gumbo, something you’d expect to hear come out of roadside bars in the Louisiana night. Both Wilson Pickett and The Rolling Stones would later cover it, but the original is a definitive lost classic.
Johnnie Taylor falls into the category of soul singers whose talents outweigh their commercial legacy, but “I Got To Love Somebody’s Baby” is an incredible cut from his debut Wanted: One Soul Singer that begs to be heard. It’s not just the incredibly raw recording, or the scene-setting guitar intro. Taylor has an incredible ability to bend words to his will, no longer just a description, but the actual events themselves. Co-written by Stax Records stalwarts Isaac Hayes and David Porter, “I Got To Love Somebody’s Baby” is a bluesy narrative of a lover done wrong, a man who’s “got to love somebody’s baby/ cuz somebody, somebody, somebody, sure been lovin mine” and while the band is in peak form, like so many other great soul songs, it’s the vocal performance that drives it to perfection.
Culled from the excellent Take Me To The River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977, It’s no overstatement to say that this little known single might rival “Hold On, I’m Coming” in being among the top soul songs ever recorded. I’ve had it on repeat for the last week.