May 252017

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Our story begins with R&B singer Limmie Snell, who in March 1965, under the name Lemme B. Good, released “Good Lovin’.” Only a month later, another version was released. This one kept the basic melody, the title, and the “yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah” hook, but all the other lyrics were changed – author Rudy Clark wasn’t happy with what he heard, and got Artie Resnick (who also co-wrote “Under the Boardwalk” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy”) to give him a hand with fixing the words. What emerged was a whole new song – no longer about a man who gets good lovin’ from his new girl (even though she’s ugly and can’t sing), now it’s about a man who needs good lovin’, a diagnosis obtained after consulting a physician.

This new version was by the Olympics, who had a hit in 1958 with “Western Movies” and did a number of dance-craze songs. Their take on “Good Lovin'” fizzled at #81 on the Billboard charts.

The Olympics – Good Lovin’

More importantly, the song reached the ears of Felix Cavaliere of the Young Rascals, a blue-eyed soul band from New York. The band was getting material together, and they were looking for a song to cover that would get people dancing. They found “Good Lovin'” in a Harlem record store, and adding it to their repertoire guaranteed them a floor-filler. When they brought it to the studio, they couldn’t quite capture the excitement of their live treatment of the song; the band was dissatisfied with their final version and didn’t want to put it out. Atlantic released it anyway, and to the Young Rascals’ surprise, the song made it all the way to number one, the first of three times the band made it to the top of the charts.

The Young Rascals – Good Lovin’

So what makes the Young Rascals’ version of “Good Lovin'” better than the Olympics’ version? Well, how about… everything from start to finish? In this case, that’s quite literally true – the “One! Two! Three!” count-off gets things off and running faster than any listener expected (what, no “Four!”?), while the ending, rather than fading out, slams to a perfect bar-band close (and that’s not even counting the false ending, which I’d like to believe fooled scores of DJs nationwide). In between, we have a faster pace than the near-stately version the Olympics offer. No piano or horns for the Young Rascals; their version is dominated by Cavaliere’s Hammond organ, sounding like it’s skating the edge of a cliff during the big solo, and the Latin jazz-rock drumming of Dino Danelli, who followed no set pattern. “On other takes we did, there was a pattern,” Danelli later said, “but on the take that became the record, I deviated from it totally and we just happened to use that one. The take that was the record was much more free…. It’s not a perfect record as far as tempo or sound, but there’s something on that particular track, that particular take, that had that magical thing that made it work. You can’t define what it is.”

If you could, Limmie Snell or the Olympics might have used it and ended up with the best-remembered version. Instead, the Young Rascals were the ones who got both the fever and the cure. Yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah.

The Olympics and the Young Rascals give you good lovin’ on Amazon.

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