Swing Out Sister: Am I the Same Girl?
From Get In Touch With Yourself (Fontana, 1991)

Nada Surf: Where Is My Mind
From Where Is My Mind: A Tribute to the Pixies (Glue Factory, 1999)

Sam Cooke: Smoke Rings
From Mr. Soul (RCA, 1963). Also available on The Man Who Invented Soul

The Soul Sides Squad is kicking back for the long weekend so I decided to jump back in to take up some of the slack (yeah, parenthood is an ass kicker but I’m starting to come back into the fold. Just don’t expect daily updates you greedy bastards).

Three more cover songs from a generously donated set of CDs sent to Soul Sides HQ (I still have a pack of mix-CDs about to go out to you – I swear). We begin with one of the all-time best female soul songs: Barbara Acklin’s “Am I the Same Girl,” done by Swing Out Sister. Many of you might be familiar with the instrumental version of the song – called “Soulful Strut” by Young Holt Unlimited. “Am I the Same Girl” is basically “Soulful Strut” with vocals (one presumes that Acklin’s backing band was YHU). The Swing Out Sister version is fairly loyal – its production is more “contemporary” but the, uh, soulful qualities of Acklin’s original are kept pretty much intact. I never get tired of this song – I wonder why more artists haven’t covered it?

Next up is Nada Surf’s version of one of the Pixies’ great songs: “Where Is My Mind.” What works is how NS’s drifting, disaffected vocals plays nicely on the same qualities of Frank Black’s original…but what’s missing for me are the searing guitars (and smashing drums) that kick off the song when the Pixies recorded it. It’s ok that most of the song is droning (in a good way) but that initial wake-up call is what nails the song’s power, early on. For anyone who’s seen Fight Club, the use of this song at the end is an incredibly great blend of sound and image.

Lastly, it’s the incomporable Sam Cooke (good god, he was blessed with an incredible voice), singing the standard, “Smoke Rings,” originaly composed by Gene Gifford. I don’t have much to say except that Cooke is an artist who I don’t spend nearly enough time appreciating but everytime I hear one of his songs, I try to remind myself to listen more. He’s so. Damn. Good.