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!



They both give me the feels for different reasons, so for me it’s a tie!


About Author

Crystal C Durant

Crystal is today's black Renaissance woman. She lives in Harlem, is always up for a new experience, is a magnet for all kinds of crazy, and smells like fresh flowers.

1 Comment

  1. I have been rethinking Grand Funk…I rejected their later big hits because newer and fresher bands were making an appearance but in retrospect I have to hand it too them…made good records and and are under rated these days

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