Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Lulu Impersonates Sly Stone

Jon Landau, in his thoughtful analysis of the contemporary pop scene – “Rock 1970” – for the December 10, 1970 edition of Rolling Stone, made the following statement about Billy Preston‘s former writing partner:

“While it may be sacrilegious to say it, the most influential black artist of recent years, with the possible exception of Jimi Hendrix, has undoubtedly been Sly and the Family Stone.  In the early R&B days it was not uncommon for songs to have one chord.  Sly has revitalized that concept and recharged it with contemporary rhythms and a group singing approach that is a pure delight.  His versatility and capacity to synthesize seems almost endless.

Both the singing and the rhythm have been completely absorbed by Motown, with the Temptations making greater use of the former and the Jackson 5 modeling themselves on the latter.  Without ‘Dance to the Music’ there never would have been ‘I Want You Back.’  His influence has been vast.  Even Lulu has cut her Sly imitation of ‘Hum A Little Song From My Heart [sic].'”

Have a listen for yourself – it might make you chuckle:

 “Hum A song (From your Heart)”     Lulu (with The Dixie Flyers)    1970

Lulu, you might recall, was part of a late 60s/early 70s trend of prominent female vocalists, who tried to tap into the commercial heat coming from the US South by recording albums in such places as Muscle Shoals, inspired no doubt by the critical success of Dusty Springfield’s classic Dusty in Memphis LP and its Top 10 hit, “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Mexican EP

Lulu EP“Hum a Song” would be the A-side of an Atlantic single that almost hit the Top 40 in the US and Canada.   “Hum a Song” would also enjoy release on a 4-song Mexican EP that, curiously, surrounds this track with three songs from New Routes — her previous LP – an album that features guitar work by Duane Allman.  Check out Duane’s soulful opening lines on the track “Sweep Around Your Own Back Door“:

“Sweep Around Your Own Back Door”     Lulu     1970

Just occurred to me that this is the third song from a critical 12-month period straddling the years 1969-1970  that has to do with “cleaning up” one’s own “back yard” — Elvis’s “Clean Up Your Own Back Yard” and Dion DiMucci’s “Your Own Back Yard.”   Spooky.

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