Sunday, April 6, 2008

Good Times

Out of Our Heads (USA version)
Side 1, Track 5
"Good Times" (Sam Cooke) – 1:58

One of the good things about this project is that for each post I do a little bit of research, and that sometimes leads me to discover cool things. I just ran across this Rolling Stones fan site, which has all kinds of technical information about all Stones recordings. Let me quote his entry for "Good Times":


Sam Cooke


Recorded May 13th 1965 at RCA Sound Studios, Chicago, US
Engineered by Dave Hassinger

Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham

MICK JAGGER: Vocal Background (right)
KEITH RICHARDS: Vocal Background (left - right)
KEITH RICHARDS: Guitar Electric Lead (left)
BRIAN JONES: Guitar Acoustic (left)
BRIAN JONES: Marimba (right)
BILL WYMAN: Bass (left)
BILL WYMAN: Bass (o.d.)(center)
BILL WYMAN: Vocal Background (left)
CHARLIE WATTS: Drums (left)
CHARLIE WATTS: Percussion (o.d. tom-toms)(right)

JACK NITZSCHE: Organ (right)
[Snip lyircs]
This little gem can be found in stereo on certain bootlegs like Necrophilia. And to tell you the truth, it sounds so much better than the official mono version. Have you ever noticed that little blonde haired boy Brian Jones on Marimbas before? Just listen carefully and you'll hear him deep in the mono mix.
At the end of each chorus Charlie Watts plays a drum roll, and in case you didn't know, that's is really an overdub located in the right channel.
Listen for that high-pitched voice of Bill Wyman trying to imitate a negro woman.
The Rolling Stones indeed went to the lengths to get it right in the days back when they still were eager to prove they were equal to the Beatles.
They also recorded Cry To Me on the same session that very day, and Jack play organ on Cry To Me, so I guess he contributed his talents on Good Times too.
You know, I never noticed the marimba before, but that's now all I can hear – thanks God GammelDags! I'm tempted to call the whole Blogging the Stones thing off, this cat has all the bases covered.

One of the things I can do is offer some context. Sam Cooke wrote and recorded "Good Times" in 1963, released it as a single in July 1964, about a year before the Stones cut their version. This is one of those songs that must have sounded like an instant standard, a song that singers just wanted to sing – the song was destined to be covered by dozens of artists over the years.

Now, in addition to being a historic songwriter, Cooke was what CL Franklin would call a stone singer – he sang the shit out of his recording:

You can hear the Stones used Cooke's arrangement without changing much, and while Mick turns in a fairly good, restrained performance, the Stones did not have access to background singers as good as Cooke's – Wikipedia claims Cooke's old gospel group The Soul Stirrers sang on his recording, but I'm not so sure.

Anyway, like I said, the song inspired dozens of covers, some great

.... and some not so great

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.