THE ORIGINAL: Wilson Pickett (1965)
This is one of the best songs in recorded history, a shining example of the magic of Stax Records. It opens with a drum roll and blaring horns, followed by the really fabulous beat. It’s what makes this mid-tempo bump and grind really move you.
It hits heavy on the “two” instead of on the “one,” so if you watch videos of people dancing to this, you’ll notice that their bodies jerk on the second beat of the 4/4. Wilson’s pleading, sexy, commanding, gravely vocal just drips with soul as he sings about how he’s gonna make love to his woman in the midnight hour. This is the song that was played at every basement party with a lone red lightbulb in the ceiling in the 1960s and 1970s.
THE COVER: Roxy Music (1980)
When I saw this listed on the Flesh + Blood album cover, I was really curious to see what Bryan Ferry was going to do with it, having been a Roxy Music fan since their first album. Curiosity killed the cat for sure here.
The song starts out with the crackle of a needle on a record, and then he counts to 10 while synths, a wavy guitar riff and a wimpy sax play in the background before the lead vocal begins. This is not good at all.
He follows the original arrangement, but turns it into a New Wave, wishy-washy, woozy mess – with his signature vibrato vocals. There is nothing I can say about this that’s good. Why, Bryan? Now I’ve got to listen to Love Is the Drug about 56 times to wash this out of my brain.
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
Wilson Pickett. No contest.
NOW YOU DECIDE!