During the end of last year and the first part of 2014, I took part in several posts for the blogging event known as the "Battle of the Bands (BOTB)." This is a fun way to discover, discuss, and dissect music, and was originally started by Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of 2013. The event occurs twice every month -- on the 1st and the 15th -- and each of the bloggers taking part offers their readers a choice of two (or occasionally more) versions of the same song, performed by different recording artists. And then the readers get to vote for their favorite rendition.
I really enjoyed putting together the few BOTB posts I did, but as 2014 started, I had less and less time to blog, and so I stepped aside from it after only a short while. But today, I would like to once again take part. I can't guarantee that I will be able to do this on a consistent basis, but I had so much fun voting on the last BOTB posts from July 15th, I wanted to join in on this one.
One of the things that lured me back to taking part in the BOTB posts is that last time two of the BOTB posters, Stephen T, McCarthy and DiscConnected, both featured Santana songs in their battles. Well, I immediately thought of another Santana song that I wanted to do, and it inspired me to come back and take part in this BOTB to highlight it before anyone else took it. ;)
Let the Battle Begin
Santana, with singer Alex Ligertwood, released the album Zebob in 1981. It had a hit -- "Winning." It's a great song, although it always sounded to me like Santana's doing something that could be a Steve Winwood song. Carlos Santana's guitar has a single-coil, treble-y Strat sound -- nothing like his normal screaming tone -- and the tune sounds like it would be perfectly at home on Arc of a Diver.
But the song that always grabbed me from Zebob was "Sensitive Kind". Wonderful groove, fabulous singing, touching lyrics. and there's that expected screamin' Santana-tone guitar, including a scorchin' lead break.
Here's the video of Santana's Zebob album cut of "Sensitive Kind:"
Great song, isn't it? But here's the deal -- Santana didn't write this song. It's a cover.
The original composer was a guy named J.J. Cale. If you've ever heard Eric Clapton do the songs "After Midnight" or "Cocaine," you've heard songs written and performed originally by J.J. Cale. Also "Call Me the Breeze," covered by Lynyrd Skinner; "Clyde," covered by Waylon Jennings; and "Travelin' Light," covered by Widespread Panic (and others).
J.J. Cale had a career of over 50 years and 15 albums well outside the spotlight of commercial success. The highest-charting song he had with him actually recording it was "Crazy Mama" in 1972 -- it peaked at #22. But he was greatly admired and appreciated by countless musicians.
He released his fifth album in 1979, appropriately but minimally entitled 5. It was a wonderful collection of short, smooth songs of the Okie and rootsy blend of jazz, blues, rockabilly, country, and soul JJ Cale is famous for, and it remains my favorite J.J. Cale album. This album also had his song "Sensitive Kind." It's a very different vibe in J.J.'s version. Slower, intimate, and much more sensitive. It's also kind of a unusual song for J.J. in that it features strings and horns on top of his usual mellow, soulful singing and sensual guitar playing. But see what you think.
Here's the original version of "Sensitive Kind" as done by J.J. Cale:
So which appeals to you more?
I invite you to listen to each version and give them a chance. 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.
Then -- be sure to check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:
- Far Away Series (FarAwayEyes)
- Stephen T. McCarthy's Battle of the Bands Blog
- Tossing it Out (Arlee Bird)
- Your Daily Dose (Robin)
- DiscConnected (DiscConnected)
- A Writer's Life in Progress (Donna Hole)
Thank you very much for listening and for voting -- come back and visit again the end of next week to find out how the voting has gone. I'll make a post then with my own vote and also announce the winner.
And in the meantime -- be sure to appreciate the sensitive kind in your life!