“Listen – Take Me for a Little While MP3″
I had an excellent weekend, and I hope you all did too.
It’s finally cold (or cold-ish) here at the Jersey Shore, and I’m digging it. I’m no fan of the schizophrenic late fall/early winter weather (it was in the high 30’s on my way in to work this morning, it was 70 last Thursday…), and while I can guarantee that I’ll be griping about the cold in a few months, right now it’s a refreshing slap in the face.
I’ve lived in this area for roughly 40 of my 44 years, and I have always had a special affection for the shore in winter. My first apartment – lo these many years ago – was a (short) block from the ocean, and I’m here to tell you that there is great therapeutic value in the stillness of a beach devoid of tourists. It’s like one huge, picturesque watercolor, except you get the synesthetic addition of sound, smell and temperature. It’s beautiful.
My wife and I too our sons for a walk on the boardwalk on Saturday, and aside from the fact that I soon regretted not bringing gloves with me, it was a great experience. In all honesty I have to say that it was hard to complain when faced with the sight of several surfers bobbing in the waves. That – I explained to my three year old – is what is known as hardcore.
That said, I couldn’t be less enthusiastic about returning to work. I didn’t get my full allotment of sleep last night and the prospect of dealing with another dose of the Monday Morning Numbskull Onslaught is not an appealing one. I’ll get through it (I always do) but I’m not going to like it.
What better way to alleviate such a short term malaise than the power of an excellent soul 45 (which I will listen to several times while composing this post).
Today’s selection comes to us courtesy of a group that you may not know, but have certainly heard (in one form or another), the Mirettes.
Featuring Vanetta Fields, Robbie Montgomery and Jessie Smith, the Mirettes had all done time (and I use that phrase deliberately) as Ikettes, and struck out on their own in 1966, recording several 45s over the next four years for Mirwood, Minit, Revue and UNI (as well as an LP apiece for the last two labels).
They also – along with fellow ex-Ikettes like Clydie King, sang backup on countless records in the 60’s and 70’s. I remember knowing the names Clydie King and Vanetta Fields from LPs by cats like Leon Russell and groups like Humble Pie years before I ever encountered them in a “soul” context.
Today’s selection appeared both as a 45 and as a track on the Mirettes 1968 LP ‘In the Midnight Hour’. ‘Take Me For a Little While’ is of course a reworking of the tune originally recorded in 1965 by Evie Sands (and covered in this blog just about a year ago). Sands version is one of the all time great girl group/blue-eyed soul 45s of the 60’s. It’s a slow motion explosion of yearning that is the equal of anything the Ronettes ever laid down under the iron fist of Phil Spector.
The Mirettes kick the tempo up a few notches, taking the tune from its New York City roots into a more Detroit direction. This is not to say that ‘Take Me for a Little While’ is in any way a conventional, Motown-ish production. The tune does have a couple of incongruous, poppy touches (which don’t bother me a whole lot, but I can imagine a couple of your more devoted soulies getting their feathers ruffled). The ringing (and slightly out of tune) piano that opens the tune, as well as the odd, theremin-esque electronic keyboard that solos throughout the record, while not in any way out of place in the Top 40, aren’t exactly hallmarks of classic soul. The vocals are of course excellent (though I couldn’t tell you who’s singing lead). The Mirettes driven approach strips the song of some of its heartbreak and angst, but Sands original performance is so unique that any attempt to tread directly in her footsteps would have been ill-advised.
I’ll tell you one thing, if I were spinning a soul dance and needed to get the crowd moving, despite my deep and abiding love for the Evie Sands side, the Mirettes version of the tune is the one I’d reach for.