Lyn Christopher: Take Me With You
From S/T (Paramount, 1973)
Tyrone and Carr: Take Me With You
From 7″ single (Jam, 1973). Also on Kings of Diggin’.
Here’s a bit of a musical mystery…
Unless you’re a hardcore KISS fan – or are just into LPs with foxy ladies on the cover – “Take Me With You” is probably the only Lyn Christopher song you’ve ever heard. And even then, had it not been for the Smut Peddlers, you probably wouldn’t even say that much. Nonetheless, Christopher’s self-titled debut – and the 7″ version of “Take Me With You” – have been heavy collectibles by at least two different crowds. The first are KISS fans; Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley played on her album before they would blow up as KISS (technically, I think the band existed but their debut album wouldn’t come out until 1974).
After Smut Peddlers looped this up lovely in 1998, it then got “outed” on Dusty Fingers Vol. 3 and that all helped blow things up for sample hounds who began to chase after the LP and 7″ versions. It’s easy to see why: it is so downright sultry and funky, possessed of a seductive sensuality that rings through when Christopher croons, “every morning/every evening.” Yes, please, take us with you.
But here’s the thing…I heard what I thought was a cover of this song by Tyrone and Carr on the Kings of Diggin’ compilation by Kon, Amir and Muro (this being one of the songs on K&A’s half). It’s a very similar version, especially with that telltale bassline that’s such a distinctive part of both. Tyrone and Carr’s approach is more modern soul-y (if you had told me this was recorded in the early ’80s, I would have totally believed that). Very smooth stuff and nice use of both acoustic guitar and electric keys. The interplay between male and female vocals is also an interesting approach, as is the shift in the back half of the song with the addition of horns and more percussion.
It took a minute but I was lucky enough to come two copies of their single – one of Jam from 1973, the other being the second issue on DJM from ’75. And this is where things get interesting…
Which is the cover? I think most have assumed it was Christopher first but only because hers is, by virtue of its noteriety, the definitive version. But all that means is that she has the best known version, not necessarily the first.
Both releases are credited to 1973 though this site puts Tyrone and Carr’s single as a March 1973 release, making it less likely that they’re covering Christopher unless her album came out Jan 1 or something. However, on Christopher’s own site, it says the album was recorded in 1972, which would put it ahead of the Tyrone and Carr 7″.
However, “Take Me With You” was written by Kaplan Kaye, a producer and songwriter who worked for… Jam. It seems more likely to me that Kaye gave his song to an artist on the label he works for and that song goes on to get covered elsewhere than for him to give the song to Christopher and then return to find a Jam artist to record it.
Moreover, musically, I feel like it Christopher’s version sounds like a cover insofar as it adds something that isn’t there on Tyrone and Carr’s – the very beginning of the song with that haunting back-and-forth between the (what the hell is it? A guitar? A horn?) and bassline. That sounds like something a smart arranger throws on to distinguish their cover from the original. In contrast, the Tyrone and Carr don’t have anything like that – the bassline is there but that’s it. It’s possible they could have stripped off Christopher’s intro but it’s so distinctive, you’d think if theirs was the cover, they’d try to riff off it somehow.
There’s nothing “at stake” here except simply establishing a correct timeline of who-covered-who. Personally, I love insider baseball stuff like this and besides, it gives me the opportunity to post up what I think are two excellent tunes, regardless of which came first.
Update: Through the wonders of the interweb, Kaplan Kaye – the original producer of the song – wrote in to tell me: “The Tyrone and Carr version was in fact the demo of the song I wrote and I put it out on Jam records as I was the A&R manager at that time, I then sent it to Dick James’s US office to Louis Ragousa who worked at DJM in the States and was at that time married to Lynn Christopher and she recorded it in the States.”