Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Tuesday Tuneage
Wilson Picket - “Fire and Water”

In my efforts to listen to more Wilson Pickett, I assembled a playlist of him covering others’ hits. What a fun, exhilarating experience. Pickett would take on anything. There was hard rock: “Born to Be Wild*,” “Fire and Water,” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (taking on the Vanilla Fudge version of the Supremes’ classic.) There was bubblegum: “Sugar Sugar” and “Run Joey Run.” There was the greatest British band with “Hey Jude,” the greatest American band with “Proud Mary,” and a criminally underrated American band with “Groovin’.” There was an ancient folk song in “Stagger Lee,” and a folk song of relatively recent invention in “Hey Joe.” Plus Roger Miller’s “Engine Engine Number 9” and another pretty good songwriter thrown in with Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”

Perhaps my favorite is his take on Free’s “Fire and Water.” Where Free’s version was all tension until Paul Kossoff’s brilliant guitar solo freed (ahem) things up, Pickett’s soars with horns and his irrepressible vocal. The weather is warming up and it’s time to maybe smile. Me, I’m going to listen to sunny music with the windows open. Wilson Picket demands a listen. What else are you going to do: Listen to The Kinks sleepwalk their way through “Long Tall Sally”?

*Better than Steve Martin’s version even.