The Impressions: I’ve Been Trying
From Keep On Pushing (ABC Paramount, 1964)

The Notations: I’ve Been Trying
From 7″ (Twinight, 1971)

The Kaldirons: To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You)
From 7″ (Twinight, 1970). Also available on Twinight’s Lunar Rotation.

J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound: To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You)
From 7″ (Addenda, 2010)

Recently got in one old 7″ and one new one and coincidentally, both are covers of some classic Chicago sweet soul tunes. To be sure, I don’t think either cover improves over the original but I often enjoy hearing a new twist on familiar songs.

I didn’t realize the Notations, during their formative, early stint on Twinight, had covered the Impressions’ “I’ve Been Trying”; I guess I’ve been depending too heavily on that Twinight’s Lunar Rotation anthology to school me but at 40 songs, it’s nowhere close to being a complete compilation. The Notations’ approach to this Impressions’ classic is fairly loyal though the production definitely sounds updated to fit in with ’70s aesthetics. It’s smoother and has more going on compared to the beautiful sparse original. Still a great composition in either hands.

The Kaldirons’ “To Love Someone” was my favorite song off that Twinight anthology; it also happened to be one of the rarest titles on the label. Maybe that’s part of what encouraged J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound to tackle it on their forthcoming 7″ release. While nothing can really match the sublime majesty of the original, I like the small arrangement differences on Brooks’ version. His falsetto doesn’t quite match that of the original but all said, what they pull off here, at the very worst, is still an enjoyably pretty cover.

Speaking of Chicago: I reviewed Kanye’s new album (apparently this generation’s Illmatic???) for NPR in case anyone’s interestred.


The blog, Themes for Young Lovers, recently interviewed me about my songs o’ love, sex and romance. Yeah, it’s true, I had absolutely no music at my own wedding. Like Will Hung, I have no regrets.

As I noted, when asked “Name 3 songs that would be no-brainers to put on a mixtape for that special someone you were trying to woo”…I included nary a soul/R&B song on there. I think part of it is that my favorite soul songs tend to be about breaking up, not making up but taking a quick spin through my library, there are some soul tunes that would easily go onto my “Woo You” mixtape:

The Impressions: Fool For You
From This Is My Country (Curtom, 1968)

First of all, I wouldn’t trust any potential lover who doesn’t like this song. Deal breaker. Second, it’s a powerful song that doesn’t necessarily rain down with “too much/too soon” overtures (the danger of a more powerful ballad). This says “I’m crushed on you but I’m not trying to have our name tattooed in blood on me. Yet.”

Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information
From Information Inspiration (Epic, 1974)

Just tell him/her, “looking at you makes me feel the same way I do when I listen to this song.” Shameless but highly effective.

Aretha Franklin: You Send Me
From Aretha Now (Atlantic, 1968)

It’s a groovier flip on Sam Cooke’s classic and it’s fun enough without laying it on too thick.

Dennis Brown: Things In Life
From 7″ (Sound Syndicate, 197?). Also on Money In My Pocket.

Because lovers rock never fails. Because the melancholy in this song is deep enough to bond anyone within earshot. Because if your intended recognizes it as “that song from Chungking Express, that’s enough to confirm their exquisite cinematic taste.

Michael Jackson: We’ve Got a Good Thing Going
From The Stripped Mixes (Universal, 2009)

Early MJ is charmingly innocent with just the right touch of grown-up sentiment. And the stripped mix is so irresistibly on point.

So much more I could throw on. Feel free to add your favorite “woo tunes” in the comments.