THE ORIGINAL: Soul Brothers Six (1967)
My mom had this 45 when I was a kid and I remember having to show it to people when the Grand Funk Railroad song was popular, because nobody believed me when I said it was a cover.
This original version was recorded live in the studio, and it has a hard-swinging 4/4 beat that takes you to church a little bit. The lead vocal is very preacher-like when he starts shouting “Can I get a witness?”
The background vocals are of the classic “call and response” variety. The arrangement is spare but powerful, with little flourishes of guitar, a chugging bass and drums – and that’s it! 2:38 of foot-stomping, ass-shaking, funky fabulousness.
THE COVER: Grand Funk Railroad (1974)
Grand Funk Railroad did a great job with this cover. It opens with a thick bass line and bashing on the toms, and the vocals are spot on.
It’s fuller and warmer than the original, lots of multi-tracked background vocals. It stays bare for the first two-thirds of the song, until the “Can I get a witness” breakdown, where a loud Hammond B3 comes in and takes it to a black Baptist church, complete with hand claps!
These are some funky White boys for sure. I dig it!
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
They both give me the feels for different reasons, so for me it’s a tie!
NOW YOU DECIDE!