The Original vs. The Cover – “Hard to Handle”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are tackling the Otis Redding song “Hard to Handle”.  Otis wrote and recorded the song along with Al Bell and Allen Jones back in 1967.  Otis died in December 1967 before the song was ever released.  It finally was released in June 1968, but not as the main single.  It was the B-Side to the single “Amen”. The song did chart though as it reached #51 on the Pop Charts and got to #38 on the Billboard R&B charts.  It was a modest hit. The song first appeared on an album in 1968 which was a compilation called ‘The Immortal Otis Redding’.

The song’s theme is pretty obvious.  It is about a man that is so cocky and braggadocios about his sexual prowess that he is coming on to women who already have themselves a man.  I mean he gets cockier and cockier as the song goes on. It is a really cool piece for Otis to write and sing as his earlier work did not come across that way.

OTIS REDDING

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Otis Redding’s original version of the song was a departure for him.  He seemed to be experimenting with a new sound.  He brought a whole James Brown funk feel to the song from the opening piano riffs, the big horn section and that driving bass line. It is quite a departure from “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”.  The song is short at just over 2 minutes, but it packs enough greatness in to that time that you don’t realize it is so short.

Vocally, Redding attacks the song with so much confidence and with those lyrics it is the only way to pull it off.  With a little grit to his voice, he comes across as a smooth, slick operator who you believe is going to come home with the woman.  I love the ad libbing at the end which is also in the James Brown vibe.  This is a total badass song.

THE BLACK CROWES

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The Black Crowes covered the song on their debut album ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ from 1990. We are going to speak to the album version and not the single version as they were two different mixes.  The single version adds a horn section that is missing from the album version.  The album version is a straight-up rocker.  It brings in the guitar as the focus, throws in some piano, heavier drum work and dang it speeds up the tempo.  The song is stretched out from 2 minutes to over 3 minutes mainly due to the addition of a killer solo by Jeff Cease.

Chris Robinson attacks the song with such vigor and emits that same cockiness needed to sing such lyrics.  The only thing missing is the heart as he is singing everything so fast it loses some of the intent, the passion.  He is focused on getting through the song and not really believing that he is that much of a badass (even though he probably felt he was).  When comparing to Otis, it isn’t quite the same.  Now, I do love this version by the band and it was one of the songs that got me in to them.

THE VERDICT

When I decided to do this cover, I would have said The Black Crowes would win hands down.  The Crowes are from my home town, went to a rival high school not far from me so these guys were the bomb when the blew up on the scene.  BUT…….when I took the time to digest both versions, there is something about Otis Redding that you can’t deny.  His version was funkier, it was more sincere and it was so different than his previous work you applaud the risk he was taking.  Plus, there is no denying his voice.  You are rooting for him to take home the girl.  With the Crowes, you don’t really care if he does you are just enjoying the song.  For me, Otis Redding and the Original is the hands down winner.

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

“Hard To Handle”

Hey there, here I am
I’m the man on the scene
I can give you what you want
But you got to come home with meI forgot some good old lovin’
And I got some more in store
When I get to thrown it on you
You got to come back for more

Toys and things that come by the dozen
That ain’t nothin’ but drug store lovin’
Hey little thing, let me light your candle
‘Cause mama I’m sure hard to handle, now, yessir’am

Action speaks louder than words
And I’m a man of great experience
I know you got another man
But I can love you better than him

Take my hand, don’t be afraid
I wanna prove every word I say
I’m advertisin’ love for free
So, you can place your ad with me

Once it come along a dime by the dozen
That ain’t nothin’ but ten cent lovin’
Hey little thing, let me light your candle
‘Cause mama I’m sure hard to handle, now, yessir’am

Baby, here I am
The man on your scene
I can give you what you want
But you got to come home with me

I forgot some good old lovin’
And I got some more in store
When I get to thrown it on you
You got to come runnin’ back for more

Once it come along a dime by the dozen
That ain’t nothin’ but drug store lovin’
Hey little thing, let me light your candle
‘Cause mama I’m sure hard to handle, now, yessir’am

Written by Otis Redding, Al Bell and Allen Jones

Needtobreathe – ‘Insiders LP, Vol 2’ – Album Review

As you know if you visit my site, one of my favorite bands is Needtobreathe.  I have everything they have put out on vinyl and now I am going after everything they have released on CD (that they don’t have on vinyl).  And the CDs I want the most are the exclusive fan club CDs they release each year.

If you join the Needtobreathe Insiders fan club (for $60 a year), you get a Live CD of tracks collected from the band’s live performances. (among other things such as a T-shirt and a free live track download ever month – that is 12 more songs).  Needtobreathe actually records every show they put on so they have a ton of tunes to choose from.  They have released 5 volumes and number 6 will be coming in December.  I have never joined so getting my hands on these has not been easy as it is not cheap. I am looking for the right price and most of the time it is too high.   I finally grabbed my first one at a price less than the membership fee.

Who is the band and the musicians on this album?  Easy enough, they tell you that…

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The first one I got a hold of is ‘Insiders LP, Vol 2’.  It is a collection of 14 live tracks from around world and let me tell you it is fantastic.  The band has spent some time with these and the production quality is amazing.  They put as much time in to them as they would a normal studio album or live album release to the general public.  The mix is done so the songs blend in with each other perfectly and it feels like a complete show.

Continue reading “Needtobreathe – ‘Insiders LP, Vol 2’ – Album Review”