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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When Black Is Not All That

posted by on April 1 at 11:39 AM

We only hear about white people taking black music and ruining it. But that is not always the case. Sometimes a white singer takes a black song and makes it better. I give you the greatest example:

The original version of “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” by a sister, Cherrelle.
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And the appropriation by a white man, Robert Palmer:
robert80s2.jpg

Palmer killed that tune. No diggity. It’s his forever.

RSS icon Comments

1

Weird trivia: The song was co-opted as the "breakthrough hit single" of Mariah Carey's alter-ego in Glitter.

I hate that I know that.

I also hate when I accidentally turn people on.

Posted by David Schmader | April 1, 2008 11:57 AM
2

I much prefer Colette's version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXwIr3OgGpY

A white girl re-interpreting a white guy interpreting a black girl.

Posted by NaFun | April 1, 2008 12:52 PM
3

Is that a greater example than "Tainted Love"?

Posted by pgreyy | April 1, 2008 1:25 PM
4

@3 REALLY? um, better than Gloria Jones version? thas fucking nuts.

Posted by nipper | April 1, 2008 2:25 PM
5

I asked it as a question, Nipper...opening it up for debate.

Your vote is "No." Counted.

Personally, while I appreciate the Gloria Jones original (and am a fan of Northern Soul in general), I believe an argument could certainly be made for which love seems more "tainted"--and in that argument, the advantage would go to Almond.

My problem with using Robert Palmer as the greatest example of "white cover of a black original" is that far too often Robert just copied and pasted his "white Englishman doing rote tech-funk covers" approach (see also his take on "You Are In My System" or "Early in the Morning".)

Better to use as an example someone who didn't simply apply blackface (or worse, Bolton-ness) to their efforts but found a way to incorporate the emotion of the original into their own particular circumstances.

So, I picked Soft Cell.

I'm not sure if Soft Cell's version is "better" (which is why I asked it as a question)--but I do know that it's definably theirs.

(It could have been worse, Nipper. I could have tried to take the indefensible stand of defending Billy Idol's take on "To Be a Lover...")

Posted by pgreyy | April 1, 2008 2:45 PM
6

Coil's "Tainted Love" pwns u all

Posted by mackro mackro | April 1, 2008 3:14 PM
7

'tainted love' is great both ways, but gloria jones belts that shit out. if it were any lesser singer, i would give the trophy to almond, but she's all over that song.

Posted by cosby | April 1, 2008 4:06 PM
8

Relative whiteness into blackness notwithstanding, seems like I once read the Meters backed Palmer on his first LP...that true?


BTW - Never heard Idol's version of "To be...", love him in Gen X, but that was as far as I got with him!

Posted by nipper | April 1, 2008 4:22 PM
9

@8:
yup.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneakin%27_Sally_Through_the_Alley_%28album%29

the more i read about music, the more that i realize that allen toussaint is running shit just about everywhere.

Posted by cosby | April 1, 2008 4:27 PM

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