Marva says “OH! OH! OHHHHH!”
Hey! Look who scanned the wrong side of the 45!
“Listen – Things Got To Get Better (Get Together) MP3″
I wasn’t 100% positive that I was going to get something posted before Thanksgiving. As I’ve mentioned previously, I work in the production end of the newspaper business, and the days leading up to Thanksgiving (one of the biggest papers of the year) are pure hell.
However, I gave it some thought, and figured that if I was going to drop something, it should be especially hot as it should commemorate both Thanksgiving, and the impending arrival of the latest installment of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions.
On that note, I bring you a powerful little 45 by no less a diva than the mighty Marva Whitney.
But wait…on slightly freaky note, I remembered that I had posted Marva’s ‘It’s My Thing’ and went back pick up some background, and check this shit, I posted that burner right around Thanksgiving (shortly afterward) last year.
Spooky, n’est ce pas??? Methinks it’s kismet!
Marva Whitney was, like Lyn Collins and Vicki Anderson, a crucial part of the James Brown Revue. She worked (including a tour of Vietnam) and recorded with Brown from 1967 to 1970, making several superhot 45s and an excellent (and rare) album.
Though all of the Brown-associated divas were powerful vocalists, I am of the opinion that Whitney was the most intense. One need only listen to ‘It’s My Thing’ to realize the eardrum stretching capacity of her voice. That she took that mighty power, and applied it to the funk is to the lasting benefit of all involved.
That particular record was an R&B Top 20 hit in 1969. I would posit that its failure to chart any higher (or perform similarly on the Pop side of things) is a testament to its intensity.
That the record she followed it with – ‘Things Got To Get Better (Get Together)’ – was less successful is, once you’ve heard it, inconceivable. Was the listening public so stunned by ‘It’s My Thing’ that they were unable to process further funk power properly, forcing them instead to fill their ears with bubblegum, hippie rawk and other unsuitable – yet easier to digest – substitutes?
As was the answer in the old ‘How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop’ conundrum – “The world may never know.”
However, that the listening public of 1969 did itself – and Marva Whitney – a disservice by failing to properly reward her genius, is undeniable, and getting this track up into the ether of the interwebs, where it might be exposed to a new world (and maybe a few old ears still searching for the truth) is the least we can do.
The tune, if you don’t already know, is a stone killer with an unstoppable groove rolling under Whitney’s blistering vocals. Give it a close listen and check the combination of organ, bass and sax that build the rhythm from the bottom up (there are points where the bass seems to be pushing the limits of the tape), especially during the breakdown in the middle of the song where Marva drops a couple of ‘OH!’s that are the very distillation of soul sisterhood.
Powerful stuff indeed.
In a further bit of grooviness, that picture above is a capture from a film (on YouTube) of Marva performing this very song on the David Steinberg hosted ‘Music Scene 69’ TV show (that’s James and the JBs in the background).
So, dig the song, have a fantastic Thanksgiving, and if there’s any way you can drag yourself to Asbury Park on Friday night, do so, because if you like what your hearing, you’re gonna get about 100 times that goodness at he Asbury Park 45 Sessions (check out this article on DJ Prestige in the local paper). Vincent the Soul Chef will be joining us again, as will the ultra-deepcrated Devil Dick. It’s going to be heavy brothers and sisters.