THE ORIGINAL: Curtis Mayfield (1972)
This is a super-funky, sexy, swaying cautionary tale about being a junkie in the early 70s. It’s one of nine brilliant songs and instrumentals from Curtis Mayfield’s masterpiece soundtrack album from the ground breaking, earth-shaking Blaxploitation film Super Fly.
It’s got a downtempo Be Bop swing with a lush arrangement of strings, harp and flute, with a driving bass line that puts lots of dip in your hip. Curtis’s voice whispers a bit, the high tone is perfect… this song is just amazing.
THE COVER: Fishbone (1988)
When I saw this on the song listing of Fishbone’s second album, Truth and Soul, I couldn’t get it home fast enough to hear it. It was a bold move, opening their album with this song that’s so loaded with black history, and they crush it.
They changed the instrumentation. The opening riff has loud guitars, bass and drums smashing out that beat. They stick with the basic arrangement but change the bridge by turning it into a literal jailbreak, and then craft it into a killer rock tune.
Angelo’s voice sounds great, impassioned, with just enough angst and anger to bring the point of the song home, all while being super-funky.
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
They’re both fantastic in their own way, so for me it’s a tie.
Curtis left this mortal coil way too soon, but Fishbone is still carrying the torch. I saw them a month ago and this song is still in their set list. And they still crush it!
NOW YOU DECIDE!