Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Did it Better?

Last Christmas, I bought Papa Chele a Sam Cooke greatest hits CD. I am less familiar with music from that era than I am with 70's and 80's music but I knew of a few his classics including "Chain Gang" and my favorite "You Send Me." I was then surprised to found a familiar sounding gem, "Having a Party."

I found myself singing along, loosely, wondering where I had heard this song before. I didn't recall it being featured in a famous television show or something of that sort. But then it clicked! I was singing one of Sister Fiore Scott's favorite Luther Vandross' tunes! It was the 80's classic party jam, "Bad Boy Having a Party."

So we now have a battle of the remakes! This isn't my first time comparing two versions of a song, but this one is particularly difficult. Both men were incredible artists whose music heavily influenced the generations that followed them. Sam Cooke's career was cut short after he was murdered, but his string of classics helped to pioneer the beginning of soul music. His version of 'Having a Party' had the swing and bee bop that was typical of rhythm and blues of the early sixties.

Now Luther has an extensive collection of songs he remade. He turned many into bit hits for himself including his classic "A House is Not a Home," that was first recorded by Dionne Warwick and "If This World Were Mine,' a song first recorded by the power duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. I love his version of 'Bad Boy Having a Party.' Luther definitely put his stank on it, incorporating elements of the style of funk music popular in the 80's. He put his signature style, but so did Sam Cooke. The question then is, whose style who prefer?

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