Saturday, November 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: "Who's That Lady?"

Today is November 15th, so you all know what's special about today, right?

Yep -- it's the birthday of Beverly D'Angelo!

Beverly (born 11/15/1951) is one of those actresses who has been in a ton of roles and always looks familiar to me on the screen, but who I can never quite remember her name.  I always find myself asking, "Who's that lady?" when I see her.  I'm not sure why -- she's pretty well-known. She's often associated with her role as Ellen Griswold in the National Lampoon Vacation series of movies, but she has also played supporting roles in a host of other movies and TV shows.

But besides being Beverly's birthday, November 15th is also the day for another entry in the Battle of the Bands (BOTB) blogfest.  This blogging event was originally started by Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of 2013. It occurs on the 1st and the 15th of every month, and I think it's a fun way to share and discuss music. 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 the readers get to vote for their favorite rendition.

It might seem odd to start a BOTB post with a mix of Beverly D'Angelo and a picture of the Isley Brothers, but it is Beverly's birthday, and after all -- they ARE connected:
See? It's all related!

Anyway, speaking of the Isley Brothers...

Let the Battle Begin!

In 1973,The Isley Brothers went from the original threesome of vocalist brothers O'Kelley, Rudolph, and Ronald to an extended family group which included younger brothers Ernie on guitar, Marvin on bass, and brother-in-law Chris Jasper on keyboards.  To highlight the new makeup, they chose the title "3+3" for their album that year -- their 11th as a group, but the first with the mix of the three original members and the three 'official' new additions.

They also had a hit from that album, titled, "That Lady," although it was called "That Lady (Part 1)" for the shortened single version. The song featured Latin-sounding percussion and a psychedelic-funky-sensual vibe with prominent distorted guitar by Ernie.

Take a listen to the full album cut:

Great song, isn't it?. And do you like the guitar? I do. Ernie Isley's guitar playing has often been referred to as "Hendrix-influenced," although that could probably describe 99% of the guitarists in 1973 at some level. But with Ernie, the comparison was legitimate and deeper than most: Hendrix had played and toured with the Isley Brothers from 1963-1965 and had lived in the Isley home during much of that period. Young Ernie was definitely influenced.

But besides the trippy Hendrix-ish guitar, Santana-like percussion and organ parts, and abrupt ending (made worse by the above video cutting off the last note), there's something else interesting about this song:

It's a cover.

And you know who did the original version?  The Isley Brothers.

In 1964, they had actually released it as a single with some different lyrics under the original title, "Who's That Lady?"  However, back in 1964, the single was pretty much ignored and never charted.

But I think that original version is a cool, smooth, soulful rendition with a nice horn break and some organ that I know Mr. McCarthy will definitely appreciate. Here's the original 1964 version, also by the Isley Brothers:

It's a pretty cool version, I think. Even without the Hendrix-like guitar and Sanata-ish percussion of the redone 1973 version.

Oh, and speaking of Santana -- did you know he also did a cover of this song? In 1990, for the album Spirits Dancing in the Flesh, featuring Alex Ligertwood on vocals.  It's a little different rendition.  I don't often include a third rendition in BOTB battles, but I think this one is interesting enough to add to the mix.  Based on the comments on the YouTube page of the video, some people don't care for it at all. Others love it.

See what you think:

Your Vote

So now it's your turn to add your input: Which version do you like better?  The funky hit 1973 "cover" version by the Isley Brothers, their 1964 original version, or Santana's 1990 interpretation?

I invite you to listen to all three and give them each a chance. And remember that this is a contest about the music -- not the images in the videos, While there shouldn't be much in these videos that might sway you, please use your ears to judge, not your eyes.

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 videos strike you, even if it's less than positive.

Then -- afterwards, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:

Thank you very much for listening and for voting -- come back and visit again 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 -- take some time to enjoy a classic old comedy movie like National Lampoon's Animal House with John Belushi, or National Lampoon's Vacation with Chevy Chase and... errr, ummm... who's that lady???


  1. Not participating today, but I will on December 1!
    I like the 1964 version better than the other one. However, even though I am not a Santana fan, I think I like that one best.
    Rather ironic that Beverly D'Angelo played the mother and second fiddle to the sexy young woman in Vacation when just four years before that she played the millionaire's sexy daughter in Hair...

    1. Hmmm... Alex, I have nothing but great respect and admiration for you, but I'm beginning to question your guitarist credentials: you didn't like the version with Ernie Isley playing and you're not a Santana fan....

      Just kidding. ;) Everyone's tastes are different, even among us guitarists. And that's how it should be.

      And I'll put you down for Santana's version, which at least eliminates the concern I had about it not even getting one vote.

      And re Beverly: An actress can age very rapidly in Hollywood, and once she crosses over to "mom" roles in the minds of directors, it can be hard for her to ever go back. Too bad. I think most moms are much more alluring than the typical young, naive girls Hollywood tends to try and glorify...

      -- Isley Brothers (1972), 0; Isley Brothers (1964), 0; Santana, 1

  2. Oh please give me the original 1964 version as I feel it is the best. It is clean and I love the last part of the song-has a little edge to it. The first one is too much 70's groovy to me and the last one feels dated. The style had a flavour I heard in many 80's and early 90's films to me even though Santana rocks the guitar

    1. One of the things I really like about this battle is the unique sound of each version, and how much the sounds are influenced by the time they were made. So which one hols up better? I can easily see why you chose the 1964 version.

      -- Isley Brothers (1972), 0; Isley Brothers (1964), 1; Santana, 1

    2. Whoops -- just noticed I'd cut 'n' pasted an error -- that's "!973" for the first version. Doesn't affect the vote count though. I'm trying hard to keep the totals correct -- don't want StevieMac to have to correct me again, lol!

  3. Santana's version is quite good, but it doesn't quite get it for me--a bit too jerky in presentation I think.

    The Isleys have done some outstanding music in their careers. That 1964 version is ultra-cool and I do like it. However, I've always liked the psychedelic version that I'm most accustomed to hearing and that's the one that gets my vote. Love that guitar sound.

    Tossing It Out

    1. I do think each version is very good and each offers something unique to like about it. I'd only heard the 1973 version for many years and didn't even know it was a re-do. And I absolutely get you about the guitar.

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 1; Isley Brothers (1964), 1; Santana, 1

  4. I will vote for the original. I love the competition a legendary group against a legendary guitar. Santana's composition was a bit busy. The original was a fine example of less is more plus I liked the horns.

    1. I hear you. I think it's a good competition, and so far, the voting is generating a nice spread.

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 1; Isley Brothers (1964), 2; Santana, 1


    GgC ~
    Wow! That first video DID end ABRUPTLY, didn't it?!

    Very interesting BOTB concept, pitting The Isley Brothers against The Isley Brothers (and Santana). In my very first BOTB ever, I did a similar thing, putting Bebel Gilberto against Bebel Gilberto. (Incidentally, Bebel Gilberto won. In fact, she utterly wiped out Bebel Gilberto, who got only one vote.)

    Hate to admit it, but I never knew who did 'WHO'S THAT LADY?', even though I've heard it countless times and always liked it.

    I've listened to the first two videos and will return later for Carlos. But I need to put this graveyard shi(f)t body in bed right now. Plus, I want to see if I can find a video clip to add to my comment. So, I'll be Bach.

    [Not copying your "delayed comment" approach. You know, I'm sure, that I don't copy no one. For bad or worse, I am an original... and the world can be thankful there's only one of me.]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. No problem, Mr. McCarthy -- I know you're busy, and definitely didn't take your delayed comment as a copy. I take it as just not having time to review all the choices -- mine was wanting to hold back for a little clarity, because I'm too conflicted about wanting to vote for BOTH choices you offered. ;)

      Vote when you get a chance.

  6. I have to say right off the bat that Ernie Isley was a real mo-fo on the guitar. I saw the Isleys do this on "In Concert" way back in the 1970's, and the guy not only sounded like Hendrix, he looked like him. I'm one of the maybe ten people who bought Ernie's solo album he released in the late 1980's or early 1990's, and the guy hadn't lost a step in the intervening years, though he lost the Hendrix look. So it should come as no surprise that the version with him is the one I'm voting for.

    That's not to say I don't like the original. I do, quite a bit, I just like the remake better.

    1. I'm going to have to try and seek out that Ernie Isley solo album -- never heard it. But I absolutely get why you're voting for the 1973 version.

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 2; Isley Brothers (1964), 2; Santana, 1

  7. When I first saw your BATTLE, before listening, I thought I'll probably vote for Santana. I'm most familiar with the 1973 Isley version, but always thought is was a little too overdone. That said, Santana certainly did his best to overdo the overdone. BUT, that original cleaner, stripped down 1964 version (which BTW, I had never heard before) really got my attention and it's gonna get my vote. I really like it.

    Interesting BATTLE, as usual!

    1. "Overdone" -- Interesting adjective to use. But I can see why you might say that -- the 1973 version has a long jam part meant to highlight Ernie's guitar, and some heavier playing than the cool, smooth original -- it's much more of a rocking version. And Santana's playing has even more of an edge at points, PLUS there's all the production overdubs of that New-Jack-ish bits added in.

      I definitely get why the original 1964 version would appeal to you.

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 2; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1

  8. Isley Brothers (1964): By comparison, this doesn't seem as tight as the 1973 version. Usually, I like the first version of more rule broken. I feel so felonious.

    Isley Brothers (1973): By far, my favorite. I love the tighter background vocals, the guitar and it gives me a legitimate reason to wear fringe and use the word "groovy" or "far out" without actually listening to Hendrix (God rest his soul).

    Santana: Usually, Santana would do it for me. Truthfully, the percussion ruins it for me. And while we're at it, I don't like the staccato-ish background voices. I guess the guitar is the only thing I like and the rest o' the gang need to go home and let him do his magic alone.

    And so, ladies and gentlemen: Isley Brothers of 1973 get my vote.

    1. It's ok -- no felony committed here. Some things just take some time to age properly. ;)

      And your opinion of the Santana version is a common one. I've got you down for the groovy, far out, felonious, not-original 1973 version:

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 3; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1

  9. Good battle, Chris!

    I suspected, without listening, to eliminate Santana first and foremost. He didn't disappoint me. I am not overly fond of his "look at me" guitar playing. Yeah, I know it puts me in the minority, but there it is.

    However, after listening to both versions of The Isley Brothers once, I was still unsure. I liked them both. So, I went back and listened again. I think the body tells the tale (at least for me). I was toe tapping and chair dancing to the first one. The second was nice. It was clean. Well done. There was nothing NOT to like, but my toe didn't tap. I didn't "chair dance." So, I am going with the Isleys covering their own song (the 1973 version). I think they thought the cover added enough "goodness" to it that they made the cover in the first place. I am going to throw my vote at it and say "I agree, fellas."

    1. Thanks, Robin!

      No problem -- Santana is a really good guitar player, but I'll agree that there are times it seems like his approach is, "if one note is good, 50 notes are great!!!"

      And I think using chair dancing is a completely acceptable criteria to judge these things -- you gotta trust your tukhus! So one toe-tappin', tukhus-movin', chair-dancin' vote for the 1973 version:

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 4; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1


    Alright, Guitar-god-Chris, I am back and don't have to rush off to bed because I'm off from work for the next 2.5 days.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to find the movie clip I was seeking at YouTube. I can't believe no one has ever uploaded it there because it's really short but very funny.

    Anyway, I'll have to go with a much poorer Plan B...

    >>... Beverly D'Angelo ... (born 11/15/1951) is one of those actresses who has been in a ton of roles and always looks familiar to me on the screen, but who I can never quite remember her name. I always find myself asking, "Who's that lady?" when I see her.

    Wanted to start by saying that using the word "lady" in conjunction with the name Beverly D'Angelo is... uh... using it in a strictly literal way, stripped of any Old School social ideas about what constitutes a real "ladylike" woman of good manners (and the literal interpretation is probably what you had in mind anyway).

    When I think of Beverly D'Angelo (BD'A) two thoughts come to mind: Her appearance in the 1977 movie 'THE SENTINEL' and her appearance in the 1979 movie 'HAIR'. And in both movies she put her "Vitamin D's" on display (which I suspect helped her to win those roles).

    I happen to like (and own) BOTH movies. And while Horror is certainly not a favorite genre of mine - I maybe enjoy 10 Horror movies total - 'The Sentinel' is quite creepy with a pretty good plot twist at the end. (And, FYI, your old buddy Jeff Goldblum is in it too, which connects this blog bit to that previous one. According to IMDB, "Jeff Goldblum was dubbed in all but one scene". Don't axe me why.)

    [OK, why am I suddenly bleeding for no apparent reason? That's kinda creepy, too!]

    BD'A plays a lesbian in 'The Sentinel', and in one scene (which you may not really want to see), she gets down with her bad self - No man nor woman needed! Whoever added this video to YouTube decided to include a laugh track, trying to make it seem like some bad TV sitcom:

    'The Dykes Downstairs' :

    But the BD'A "unladylike" video I was really hoping to find was from 'HAIR', where she hails a taxi cab at night in Central Park. Regardless of how many times I watch this movie, the taxi bit in that scene ALWAYS makes me literally laugh-out-loud. (GgC, you've probably seen the movie, but if not, I recommend it... and not for BD'A's Vitamin D's.)

    Looking for that taxi bit at YouTube I stumbled upon the following video, which again drives home the unladylikeness of BD'A:

    "Singing"(?!) at Johnny Depp's 'VIPER ROOM' :

    Continued Below...

    1. OK -- As Beverly does herself in those movies, you bring out a couple of really good points.

      But despite the undeniable merit of the points you've illustrated, the song title in my BOTB is, "Who's That Lady?" not, "Who's that hot babe with the awesome Vitamin D's?"

      I had to work within the script I was given...

      And I have seen both "Hair" and "The Sentinel," although it's been years.

      I will just submit that the role of Ellen Griswold is much more ladylike, and that since I used that as a basis, I believe it would certainly allow BD'A to be considered ladylike. ;)


    Alright, moving on to the real subject of this blog bit...

    >>... that original version is a cool, smooth, soulful rendition with a nice horn break and some organ that I know Mr. McCarthy will definitely appreciate.

    Yes, I liked the organ washes right out of the chute in the 1964 original. I also liked the horns when they suddenly broke out, but I felt that just some sparse horn-action prior to that point would have filled out the earlier part of the song nicely.

    However, the 1973 version is definitely sung more melodically (by both the lead and the background vocalists), and I really like the groove of it and the tone of the electric guitar. (In fact, other than just a couple songs, I am really not a Hendrix fan and would say I like Ernie Isley's guitar playing in 'Who's That Lady?' better'n I do most of Hendrix's playing in most of his famous tracks.)

    Like others, I felt the Santana version was just too... choppy and over-the-top. I do love a great deal of Santana's guitar work (I even BOTBed his version of 'She's Not There' and voted for it over the original, if you recall), but I didn't pick up that usual spiritual element to his playing in his cover of this song; it just seemed like a lot of gratuitous guitar violence to me. And I didn't like the style of singing in it at all.

    I go with the groovin' Seventies this time, and it was a pretty easy decision for me to make. The cover of the original by the original artist wins my vote hands down.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Well, you surprised me, StMc! I had you down as a lock for the 1964 original. ;)

      But I cannot deny the strength of the 1973 version. It's a much more up-tempo and funky version, and I absolutely get the appeal of Ernie Isley's guitar.

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 5; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1

  12. Another tough competition...the 1973 version and the Santana cover are the ones I am most familiar with-the earlier Isley rendition was news to me.

    I think I have to go with the 73 version-it's the one that I know best, and is kind of iconic to me....and has the funkiest groove thang workin'

    1. I dig you, Man! I totally get the appeal. and the 70's surge has now give it a 2-to-1 advantage over the 64 version:

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 6; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1

  13. All three versions are good, really good. I closed my eyes and listened to each one. I had to go back and forth on them a few times, but it was quite clear to me that the 1973 Isley Brother's edition gets my vote!

    1. Thanks for voting, Cathy! I'm glad you enjoyed each version and that the decision wasn't an easy one -- that makes it a good battle. :)

      But the 1973 version has definitely came on strong:

      -- Isley Brothers (1973), 7; Isley Brothers (1964), 3; Santana, 1

  14. It might seem odd to start a BOTB post with a mix of Beverly D'Angelo and a picture of the Isley Brothers, but it is Beverly's birthday, and after all -- they ARE connected:

    Beverly D' Angelo played Ellen Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation.
    National Lampoon's Vacation was directed by Harold Ramis.
    Harold Ramis was one of the writers of National Lampoon's Animal House.
    National Lampoon's Animal House featured the classic toga party with a performance by the 'band' Otis Day and the Knights.
    During that toga party in the movie, Otis Day and the Knights sang the song, "Shout".
    "Shout" was originally written and recorded in 1959 by the Isley Brothers.

    See? It's all related!

    :) *That* was fun.

    1. Yes. Yes, it was. ;)

      And it even gets a little reprise in today's BOTB summary post (along with some new music from me).


Don't be shy -- feel free to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts.