Sunday, December 07, 2008

Covered Up #2

With this edition I will be looking at the song "Shake your Hips"

Slim Harpo was born James Moore in Baton Rouge, LA, in 1924. After his parents death he worked the juke joints, house parties, picnic and streets of Crowley to make living. He was discovered by J. D. Miller and was used as a side man for other acts, like Lightnin Hopkins.
Harpo's own style was in the laid back, down home style of Jimmy Reed. Harpo had several R&B hits including a few to enter the top 40 charts, during the early to mid 1960s. What separated Harpo from alot of other blues musicians was his adaptability, he could work rock'n roll rhythms into is song along with country and western vocal patterns. This gave him a broader appeal to his work. Which could be why such artist as The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams Jr., The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and Th' Legendary Shack Shakers have all covered his work.

Shake Your Hips By Slim Harpo
The Original. A great example of Harpo's style in general. Simple, high spirited, and fun, the song rhythm definitely borrows from a more rock style, while keeping the guitar and harmonica of more traditional blues

Shake Your Hips By The Rolling Stones
It was Mick Jaggers idea to covered this song on their 1972 classic Exile on Main street. He was big fan of Harpo. To the point that this was the second Harpo song The Rolling Stones had covered. Their version of Harpo's "I'm a King Bee" can be found on the Stones first album. The Stone keep pretty much everything that Harpo created, the rock rhythm of the drums and melody of the guitar. But add little touches and flairs of their own, by replacing the harp with subdued horn section and a slightly faster tempo.

Shake Your Hips By Robert Randolph and the Family Band
RR and the Band take Harpo's basic rhythm and melody, but expand it, to be the example of how Jam Bands should do a "Blues jam". Giving every member of the band a solo but never losing Harpo's framework, while adding touches of gospel, dance, and psychedelia.

Shake Your Hips By Th' Legendary Shack Shakers
By far the most wild, and my favorite version of the songs. Harpo's rhythm and melody framework are still there, but played now with so much attitude and fury that it sometimes seems like another song. The Shack Shakers, change tempo several time in the song, add some punk rock menace by slowing the lyrics down during slower parts of the song, and hysterical screaming during the up tempo parts. One of the key differences between this version and the other two, is this version retains the harmonica as lead instrument. I would go so far to say that it is more prominent than in the original version.

Slim Harpo died at the age of 46 in 1970. I have often wonder if his influence of rock would be greater if he had lived and what that influence would have been. Given only a small number of song that he produced his influence on modern rock scene is impressive.

Next Time: Some time you get the blues, some time the blues gets you.



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