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Gladys Knight Sings Covers

 

Gladys Knight, who is turning 80 next week, on May 28, apparently is known as “The Empress of Soul”. If this is indeed her title, that makes the Queen of Soul her subordinate. I wouldn’t hazard to make a judgment about which singer is the greater.

As we saw on the Aretha Sings Covers mix, the Queen was a tremendous interpreter — and reworker — of songs. Certainly, no woman soul singer ever exercised as much influence on her genre as Aretha did. But ask me whose voice I’d prefer to hear on my deathbed, I’d vote for Gladys Knight’s over Aretha’s.

Where Aretha was assertive, even strident, and in her later years even shrill, Gladys exercised restrained. She needed no resort to melisma or bellowing to convey emotion. She could (and probably still can) do so through a little drop or rise in tone, and through her flawless phrasing — much like Randy Crawford, who one day ought to be the subject of a covers mix too.

Aretha had female backing singers, often including her sisters. Gladys had one not-at-all-secret weapon: The Pips. These three guys — her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins William Guest and Edward Patten — are among the greatest backing singers ever. If there should be a Backing Singers Hall of Fame, only ignorance would exclude The Pips from immediate induction.

Of course, Gladys would have been a star even without The Pips, but her interplay with the guys was an principal ingredient in her soul stew. Just consider the exquisite commentary The Pips deliver on Midnight Train To Georgia. (A track which, like other covers which Knight and Pips turned into hits, doesn’t feature here.)

Gladys had some history with the previous singer featured in this series, Diana Ross. It goes back to the 1960s, when Gladys was with Motown. She and The Pips were supporting Dana Ross and The Supremes on tour — and they stole the show. Berry Gordy was unhappy about that, and, according to Knight, Diana had her act dumped from the tour.

Gladys Knight went on to have a prolific career after Motown, with a string of big hits, some covers and others originals. (See  and The Originals: Soul Vol. 2)

This collection of songs here shows Knight to be a magnificent interpreter of songs, often taking ownership of them. Some of these songs were recorded in their hit versions by some of the greatest singers in pop; Gladys matches or even eclipses them.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-pipped covers, and the text above on PDF format.

1. (I Know) I’m Losing You (1970, The Temptations)
2. Who Is She (And What Is She To You) (1973, Bill Withers)
3. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1968, Righteous Brothers)
4. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother/Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971, Hollies/S&G)
5. Fire And Rain (1971, James Taylor)
6. One Less Bell To Answer (1971, The 5th Dimension)
7. Goin’ Out Of My Head (1968, Little Anthony and the Imperials)
8. Help Me Make It Through The Night (1971, Kris Kristofferson)
9. Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975, Roberta Flack)
10. The Way We Were/Try To Remember (1974, Barbra Streisand/Ed Ames)
11. The Makings Of You (1974, Curtis Mayfield)
12. Look Of Love (1968, Dusty Springfield)
13. Groovin’ (1968, The Young Rascals)
14. Sugar Sugar (1975, The Archies)
15. Cloud Nine (1970, The Temptations)
16. Grandma’s Hands (2001, Bill Withers)
17. End Of The Road Medley (live) (1994, Boyz II Men a.o.)
18. Since I Fell For You (2005, Lenny Welch)

GET IT!

Previously in Sings Covers:
Al Green Sings Covers
Aretha Franklin Sings Covers
Diana Ross Sings Covers
Tina Turner Sings Covers

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

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  1. amdwhah
    May 21st, 2024 at 07:51 | #1

    PW= amdwhah

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