The Truthettes: He’ll Open Doors For You
So Good To Be Alive
From Child’s Prayer (Malaco, 1981)
Brother Jesse Jackson and the Mighty Wings over Zion Singers: Can’t Nobody Take You There
From 7″ (Designer, 1973)
It should be fairly obvious now that I have a soft spot for gospel soul songs that interpolate existing soul songs. They’re covers of a sort but especially when lyrics get changed, they really transform the original source material into something else entirely.
One of the best examples I can think of is this Truthettes LP (thanks to Brendan for putting me up on it), recorded by a young female quartet out of Oklahoma City. As you can hear on “He’ll Open Doors For You,” the rhythm section is playing off of “Cruisin'” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Very grooooovy.
The real gem though is “So Good To Be Alive” which is an unexpected flip on Teddy Pendergrass’s “Love TKO.” Talk about taking the secular into the spiritual! The song is also just well sung beyond all that; very smooth and soulful (just the way Teddy would want it). In fact, if I didn’t know this came off a gospel LP, I would just assume it was an R&B tune that happened to jack Pendergrass.
The last example, by Jesse Jackson (not that one) and the Mighty Wings Over Zion does a rough job of interpolating the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There,” and it’s an intriguing “answer” song to the Staples’ big hit – they seem to be directly criticizing the source for suggesting that you can get to Heaven through any means but your own. I have no theological horse to back here but I am curious if the Staples Singers ever heard this and what their reaction might have been (beef beef beef!).