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The Rolling Stones: Bringing American Blues Legends To The Party. Again.

This is gonna go all over the place folks but I think it's an essential point in rock and roll for me. I've been thinking about the equation all evening. Obviously, "the kids" screaming at The Rolling Stones back in 1965 got a hint too. Pop culture as we know it was changed, once again, by a gaggle of skinny young British guys with messy hair and crazy talent. The rest is history.

Otis "King of Soul" Redding and Jerry "The Ice Man" Butler wrote and produced "I've Been Loving You Too Long", or "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" in some instances, in 1965.  Redding recorded the song that same year on the Volt/Atco label.  It was a huge R&B hit A-Side single (B-Side, "Just One More Day") at the time. Destiny has it's way with artists and songs, and certainly Redding's body of work was destined, and it has been for decades, to be classic.

Enter The Rolling Stones.  Their love affair with American Blues/R&B is about as familiar as their name. They were [are] true devotees of the "King of Soul", who, at that time, was yet to be crowned. The Stones were the first band to cover Otis and Jerry's song, performing "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" live around the world. Their version is captured brilliantly on their first live disc, "got Live if you want it!", along with the, literally, screaming teeneyboppers that packed their venues at that time. Being The Rolling Stones, that record found itself in the hands of babes all around the world and, in one sitting, a crucial "genre hopping" moment in the history of Rock-and-Roll and R&B happened for everyone who loved it and listened. Once again, the Stones tipped their hat to an American R&B artist/influence [note my Howlin' Wolf blog] and thanks to their idols, "Otis Awareness" hit the "screaming" global teen-scene. As evolution occurs - most often anyway - those screaming kids grew up, expanding their horizons. Naturally, their record collections grew too, to include the influences of their influences, artists they very well may not have noticed otherwise. The expanding, ever under construction "path" of modern music was moved to the next level.

Thanks and payback is always a bright career move. Mr. Redding and his management, naturally realized when your hot, you're crossing borders and barriers as an artist, consequently selling lots of records, reaching a world of listener's waiting to hear great music. Otis chose to record the Jagger/Richards' pean of the vexed, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", for Otis Blue on the Stax label in 1965. The R&B touches, such as horns, create a groovy vibe, laden with heavy soul [which incidentally is what Keith originally wanted for the Stones version] and the lyrics are a bit different, because Otis claimed to not know the original's words. Significantly different versions of the song were released in different genres, yet this shared appreciation [of each other's work] raised the rising profiles of both acts even higher, as they were already off like bullets, crossing the borders of R&B into the cash heavy, ever expanding, world of pop music. Thank goodness, the Stones nor Redding were "too precious" to cover another artist's tune. Yeah, I said it. You a musician? That refuses to do covers? Think again.

Now for Ike and Tina Turner... loud applause, a woot and a holla please! The duo released, on the Blue Thumb label, the 1968 disc "Outta Season". "I've Been Loving You Too Long" opens the record and it's one of the most intense ballads of their career. The Rolling Stones had the good sense to invite the Turner's to support their 1969 US tour, captured for history in the Maysales' legedary rockumentary, "Gimmie Shelter". Footage of Ike and Tina performing this song at Madison Square Garden, illustrates the "call and response" signature Ike and Tina we've come to know and love. They provoke each other, playing on the word "loving" in it's most physical way. The Turner's take this song to their "place". A fiercely rocking spot where they "never ever do nothing nice and easy" and with Turner intensity and passion, not to mention funk, make things, and the song, "nice and rough", fiery, heaping with good American soul.

Other notable artists that have recorded "I've Been Loving You Too Long" are Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Joe Cocker. That's just to name a few (Barbara Mandrell even did it!).

This song, in all versions, delivers the triumphs, tears and tensions of love, its sleepless nights, gut wrenching sunrises, even bleaker sunsets... and lovelorn hope for forever, on a plate that overflows with gold records. However, artists, please, if you don't "do" on your sleeve well, stay away from this number. I believe Redding and Butler's only request is that you do it "true". Once more, with feeling - emphasis on feel!

Oh wow wimmins/mens... it's 12:56 am. Happy Friday.



The verdict...

What woman wouldn't drop their britches to this one?
- Danny, Your Town, IA

Ahh, love the song but my favorite by Otis is "These Arms of Mine"
- Mel, Riverbank, CA

The best live version of this is from the Monterey Pop Festival. When he gets to the break in the middle he does it over and over, driving the audience crazy, before he drops back into the song. Amazing.
- Jesse Meade, Eugene, OR

The emotion he puts into this song is scary. I remember this song in a movie called "Heaven Help Us" (a hilarious comedy about 1960s Catholicism if you have a chance to get your hands on it) and it was used perfectly in a young love scene.
- Duane, Wheatfield, IN

It's a shame this song is often overlooked. Most people think "Dock of the Bay" is the only recording by Otis Redding. If you read this, and you like Otis work, please explore his other recordings.....it is truely worth the effort!
- Bruce, Danville, VA

This recorded performance is one of the most beautiful moments ever in music in my humble opinion.
- Jim, Dayton, OH