“Listen – It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To) MP3″
Here’s hoping all of you had as nice a holiday weekend as I did, and that you do not find yourselves too crestfallen on being forced to return to your cubicles.
Here on the East Coast, aside from the fact that Thanksgiving itself was a soggy mess – which is really of no consequence unless you feel the need to eat your turkey in the out of doors – the rest of the weekend was composed of a series of perfect fall days; crisp, but not too cool, and sunny. We got lots of fresh air and west and wewaxation was had by all.
The only downside is that in addition to the all consuming drag of coming back in to work, I find that four days away from the keyboard may have dulled my edge a bit. It’s not that my mind isn’t working at full capacity (as it is), but rather that I feel that all of the familial good times, cool autumn air and colorful foliage may have momentarily redirected my eyes from the prize, and I am in dire need of focus.
I suspect – no offense intended – that some of you may be suffering from a similar malady, and I’m happy to say that when it comes to remedying same, I have just what the doctor ordered.
Back a month or so ago, when I was selecting and digitizing a potpourri of delicious and satisfying soul and funk sides for presentation herein, I made sure that I included a couple of sure fire, TNT loaded bangers, capable of rousing a leisure-dulled mind from hibernation, forcing it back into laser like concentration. I would be remiss if I didn’t whip one of these killers out and serve it up this very morning.
It should come as no surprise that the James Brown-and-related catalog is a vast repository of such records, starting with the Masters very own sides (which cannot, should not and will not be “fucked with”), and right on up to and including the work of his many talented associates.
As we saw recently with a very tasty 45 by Miss Vicki Anderson, the ladies of the JB organization were capable of records as hard hitting as anything the Godfather himself might conjure up, and today’s selection should go a long way to cement that idea in your mind (or more directly, your ears).
Marva Whitney started out in Kansas City, singing gospel and then R&B, before hooking up with the James Brown Revue in 1967. She toured extensively with the Revue (even accompanying them to Vietnam) before beginning to record her own records in 1969.
As you’ll here with today’s tune, Whitney (like her sisters in funk Lyn Collins and Anderson) was possessed of a mighty instrument. I’d go as far as to say that her performance here is the most powerful of all of the JB-related sister funk 45s. It has long been a favorite of mine, and I hesitated to bring it to you only because my first copy was a scratch-tastic piece of crap, and I needed to get my hands on a somewhat cleaner copy before slapping it up here on yon blog.
The tune in question – you were wondering when I was going to get around to telling you what it was, weren’t you?? – is a very poorly disguised reworking of the Isley Brothers super popular and much imitated ‘It’s Your Thing’, entitled ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’. Now, you could probably create a boxed set based solely on covers and reworkings of ‘It’s Your Thing’. I’m not sure whether Miss Marva’s record would be better classified as a cover or an answer record (probably both), but it’s scorched earth approach to the relaxed, sexy funk of the Isley’s original is so brutal, so peel-back-your-eyelids powerful, that it comes close to wiping any trace of the source material off the face of the earth.
I’m not kidding. Download and listen. From the opening guitar licks, right on up through Marva’s first words, it’s like someone is sitting behind you with a funk-soaked hammer, hitting you in the head over and over again. The cool thing is, despite the fact your head is now filled with cartoon-style lumps, your feet and ass are moving so forcefully that you really don’t mind. It kinda hurts so good, if’n you get my drift.
The record was an R&B Top 20 hit in May of 1969 (settling just inside the Pop Top 100), and I’m positive that the only reason it wasn’t a bigger hit is that it was so insanely heavy. I mean, there are various and sundry levels of funk – many of which have been discussed in this space – and ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’, exists on a plane all its own. It’s like, if your run of the mill funk 45 is a late-60’s Mustang, ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’ is that car, with a bundle of dynamite under the hood, a gas tank full of nitroglycerin and a rabid wolverine at the wheel.
In fact, it may be too heavy for first thing in the morning. Go get a cup of coffee, toss in four or five sugars, let the sweet rush of caffeine move through your system, and then click on the link. If this doesn’t get your ass back in the proverbial saddle, ready to do battle with the dipshits, slackjaws and officious supervisors that beset you at every turn, I’ll eat my hat.