Rhino’s Got You Covered: Bloodstone, Barbara & Ernie, Bettye LaVette, and Eddie Hazel
It’s Wednesday, so it must be time to take another dip into the Rhino catalog and trot out a new quartet of cover songs that you may or may not have heard before. Let’s get started, shall we?
• Bloodstone, “As Time Goes By” (1975): We kick off this week’s column with the opener from the soundtrack to Train Ride to Hollywood, a thoroughly strange film which featured Bloodstone riding the rails to Tinseltown with a cast of celebrity lookalikes from the golden age of film (Bogie, W.C. Fields, etc.), plus a few token impersonators of then-current icons like Marlon Brando as The Godfather. Trying to explain the going-on any further would be useless, because we’re not even sure we understand how this thing got made in the first place, so just go ahead and watch the trailer to get a first-hand look at the insanity and know that despite the film’s apparent oddness, Bloodstone’s soundtrack is still a lot of fun.
• Barbara & Ernie, “Somebody to Love” (1971): Just so you know, this whole album is fascinating, not just this Jefferson Airplane cover. Guitarist Ernie Calabria had played on songs by Harry Belafonte, Anita Carter, and Nina Simone prior to teaming up with Barbara Massey, who’d already provided backup vocals to tracks by Herbie Hancock, Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and Cat Stevens. When they came together to record their debut album, PRELUDE TO..., the results were downright magical.
• Bettye LaVette, “Heart of Gold” (1972): She recorded her first single, “My Man – He’s a Loving Man,” in 1962 when she was only 16, and when it was picked up by Atlantic Records, the song became a top-10 R&B single, but when the follow-up, “You’ll Never Change,” failed to chart, Bettye LaVette’s tenure at Atlantic came to a close. Not that she didn’t continue to record for other labels through the remainder of the ‘60s, and in 1972 she landed on ATCO for two more singles, the first of which was this Neil Young cover. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a chart success, either. LaVette did eventually find the success she so deserved, but not until 2005, when she released I’VE GOT MY OWN HELL TO RAISE and was discovered by a new generation of R&B fans.
• Eddie Hazel, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1977): Best known as the lead guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic, Hazel occasionally ventured into solo work, and the first time was for this ’77 LP, a mixture of covers and originals. In addition to this album track from The Beatles’ ABBEY ROAD, the LP opens and closes with versions of The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming.”