Sammy the Seal

“Just call me”

In music videos, vinyl on Friday, 17 February, 2012 at 13:22

I’ll try to keep the negative to a minimum, but upon recently hearing Club Nouveau’s version coming out of someone’s radio, I rushed out of earshot to find a Bill Withers recording. Originally, I thought the cover was okay. It was the first version I ever heard, having grown up in the 80s when it was released, and acutally I never heard the original for the longest time. Man, what a difference. I guess the cover is more upbeat and happy and fun, but just about all of  the soul has been sacrificed– it’s less heart, and more a good-times party song. The original is undeniably more subdued, yet the between-verse breaks– the harmonies, handclaps, and bass– are more real, playful, and funky than anything in the cover. And yet, it’s all so simple. The musical elements are all no flash, no gimmick, and the melody and chord progressions are stunningly basic, yet it’s kinda stunning how much is wrung out of it all. The lyrics represent a potentially highly schmaltzy sentiment, but the tone and performance of the original is wonderfully conversational, and consequently sincere. Fans and proponents of understatement take heart.

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