“Listen – The Coasters – Down Home Girl – MP3″
I’m a little tired (the stay at home dad thing is not an occupation conducive to piling up a surplus of sleep), but happy that spring appears to be here in both the de jure and de facto senses. Of course that means it’s time to get the mower tuned up and the rake out of the shed so that the perimeter is once again presentable (I believe the old phrase my Pop used to use was “Police the area!”), balancing the joy of breathing fresh Spring air with the pain associated with manual labor (and of course pollen….oh the humanity!?!?).
That said, tapping away at the laptop, so that the blogging might continue requires almost no (physical) labor at all.
What better way to get things going than with a very groovy cover of one of my all time favorite records ‘Down Home Girl’.
First waxed in 1964 by the mighty Alvin Robinson for the Red Bird label (one of my all time fave records), ‘Down Home Girl’ was written by Jerry Lieber and Art Butler. In it’s original form (produced by Lieber and Mike Stoller and arranged by Joe Jones) it is one of the grittiest pieces of New Orleans-associated soul ever to hit wax.
The following year, the Rolling Stones, knowing a good thing when it crawled into their ears, recorded a version of their own.
The version I bring you today see’s Lieber and Stoller taking the song out for a stroll once again, with one of their favorite groups, the legendary Coasters. By 1966, when the group went into the studio with L&S (Stoller producing) they were a few years past their last big hit (‘Little Egypt’ hit the Top 40 in 1961).
The 45 that ‘Down Home Girl’ appeared on – bearing the extremely cool ‘Soul Pad’ (possibly the greatest/only soul song to namecheck Thelonious Monk) on the flipside really should have been a hit. It’s possible that the audience of 1966/67, newly attuned to all things far out may have associated the Coasters name with a bygone era of good time-y rock and roll, but like their contemporaries the Platters, they were clearly up to the task of making era-appropriate sounds.
The Coasters version of ‘Down Home Girl’ – taken at a slightly more deliberate pace than Robinson – opens with a horn/drums/vibes riff that is verily begging to be looped by some enterprising producer, and features some classic group harmony. Much of the humor associated with the Coasters is there, though it gets delivered not via the performance itself, but rather through Lieber’s hyperbolic lyrics. Where Robinson’s reading of the song is dripping with unbridled lust (thanks in large part to his awesome, soulful growl) the Coasters vocal arrangement, with tenor and bass trading lines allows them to highlight the absurdity of some of the lines.
It really is a lost classic, and one of the finer versions of a truly great song.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Friday.