What would I do without the other music rely on for inspiration, and in some cases, even more than that! I have been following Steve For The Deaf for what seems like a couple of years at least, leaving comments when I can. Last month SteveForTheDeaf blogged about this track that Iggy Pop released for his 73rd birthday last April 21st! And …Gott Im Himmel… Iggy with Bill Laswell and Bootsy Collins on Guest Star Bass® have recorded an elegant [some would say definitive] take on the superb Sly + The Family Stone classic “Family Affair.”
It’s not a million miles away from the laidback soul swagger of the original, but this version has three things going for it. Instead of the soul rasp of Sly Stone, Iggy’s working his finest silky smooth baritone and anyone who has been a fan like me for 40 years knows that The Ig can unleash a baritone that slays at 200 yards. He gets perhaps too many props as the Godfather of Atavistic Punk Rock [and he is…] but he’s even more than that. He’s also a trailblazer of Post-Punk Rock and on many occasions, a crooner to take his place among the classics. His phrasing here was butterfly-light of touch and insouciant enough to have him rapping like a late-night-FM DJ. Not for nothing did he cover “One For My Baby [And One For The Road]” and do it flawlessly well!
Another plus factor was the clean, warm production by Bill Laswell. The man gets the tone down here admirably and the drum machine breakdown in the middle eight where Iggy croons “you can’t crryyy…” was a thing of subtle beauty. The cowbell programming was also sagely done. I can only assume that the uncredited sweet wah-wah guitar was Laswell himself.
But the big secret weapon here was the genius enlisting of Wiliam “Bootsy Collins” to play the bass guitar. Sly Stone’s bass player, Larry Graham, was a massively influential bassist. The man invented slap bass, for goodness’ sake! Not for nothing did Prince famously have Graham play with his band for many years in the 90s. Who better to take up the mantle of bass in this song that the other Funk Bass Genius of the 70s as typified by Bootsy Collins. Bootsy’s innovation with the Mu-Tron® filter added realms of possibility in the 70s and he’s not one to slack off even 40 off years later. In approaching this song, one could imagine Collins;’ saying to himself “Larry Graham helped create this… how can I make it even funkier?”
And then he did it! Listen!
Iggy gave away the track last April but the Bancdamp policy calls for a finite number of free DLs, and those burned through in short order, so now it will cost you £0.79 for the privilege. Hint: It’s so worth it.
Okay….so you do know that Duran Duran just dropped a Bowie cover this week, yes?
Just a concerned citizen providing a wellness check.
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Tim – Everything I read about it suggested that it was only played live at the Bowie Tribute concert that Mike Garson organized. You mean it’s a DL?!!
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Tim – I just bought the DD “Five Years.” It’s ready to join its Bowie cover brethren in the Double Duran canon. Yikes.
Glad to help!
Tim – That wasn’t meant as a good thing…more tomorrow!
Thanks for the props there. I think you’re right, this could be the definitive version.
Great version. Good find. Most Def the Godfather
This new version is delightful, but a little too laid-back compared to the original — and I’d argue that the inclusion of a drum machine was a mistake. That said, Pop’s vocal is flawless, the bass is magnificent (especially breaking out at the end), and as you say, likely Laswell’s guitar is simply on fire. A slightly looser feel that you’d get with say, Tom Tom Club + Bootsy and Laswell, and you’d have perfection. I’m giving this one an 8/10.
I’m also conflicted about whether Iggy should lend those sweet crooner chops to more covers of well-known songs, seeing as how a number of lesser senior vocalists have already murdered them a-plenty!
chasinvictoria – I think you’re wrong about the drum machine because “Family Affair” was actually legendary for being the first number one single to have one in America! All the way back in 1971 when no one except Robin Gibb [who had gotten there even earlier] had the faith, baby. This song might even sound weird with live drums, and in any case, I think the tip of the hat was entirely intentional. And any time we get evidence of Iggy’s sweet crooner chops it’s a good thing by me!
Going back and listening to the original track, I guess you’re right! I think I’m most familiar with one of the many live versions of the song from back in the day, and that’s where I got the impression of live drummers on the track.
As for the Igster, I don’t think I’d want him doing lounge classics like the Andy Williams/Rod Stewart songbook, but certainly I’d like to hear more of that side of his vocals on tracks that would benefit. Oooh, a Pop/Gregory duet just popped in my head and thus it must now happen at some point!
chasinvictoria – Then you need to hear these albums tout de suite!