So far, my 2014 blogging is not going as planned -- I've been a little more absent than I'd like, but I do expect that to change soon. And at least I'm staying on top of the Battle of the Bands (BOTB) event -- we're on to the second BOTB of 2014! To refresh your memory, the BOTB is a blogging event started by Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of last year. This event occurs twice every month -- on the 1st and the 15th -- and each of the bloggers taking part offers readers a choice of two (or occasionally more) versions of the same song, performed by different recording artists. And the the readers get to vote for your favorite rendition.
This is the third BOTB I've taken part in, and I let the first two be partially dictated by the calender: Christmas music in the one for 12/15/13 and "Auld Lang Syne" for New Year's Day on 1/1/14. This is the first BOTB where the playing field is wide open, so I'm going to do the song that I first thought of as a BOTB contender when I was considering joining this event: "Take Me to the River."
This song was written in 1974 by Al Green, but I first remember hearing it when I watched Saturday Night Live on February 10, 1979 and saw the band Talking Heads perform the song (you can watch the episode on Hulu if you want). The song was also their first single to break into the top 40 (reaching #26 on the Billboard charts), and it's a song that many people associate with the band. But how does it compare to the original by Al Green? Let's find out in a Battle of the Bands!
Here's the studio version by Talking Heads, from the 1978 album "More Songs About Buildings and Food":
And now, the original by Al Green, from the 1974 album, "Al Green Explores Your Mind":
And finally, a live version by Al Green on Soul Train from 1975, complete with roses:
I think this is one of those songs that's just so good that every version of it is enjoyable -- and it's been performed and recorded a ton of times by many other artists including, Foghat, Annie Lennox, and Tom Jones.
But between Talking Heads and Al Green -- studio and live combined -- who do you think did it better?
I invite you to listen to each and give them a chance (and remember -- the goal is to compare the music, not the videos, so I encourage you to ignore the images, although I admit it is hard to overlook David Byne's big suit and Al Green's roses).
After listening, please vote in the comments as to which version you think is best, or which speaks to you the deepest. Feel free to also share as much as you would like about how any of the above recordings strike you, even if it's less than positive.
Finally -- be sure to check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:
- Far Away Series (FarAwayEyes)
- Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends (Stepehn T. McCarthy)
- Tossing it Out (Arlee Bird)
- Your Daily Dose (Robin)
- DiscConnected (DiscConnected)