Saturday, April 5, 2008

That's How Strong My Love Is

Out of Our Heads (USA version)
Side 1, Track 4
"That's How Strong My Love Is" (Roosevelt Jamison) – 2:25

Roosevelt Jamison wrote "That's How Strong My Love Is" and gave it to journeyman soul singer OV Wrigtht, who recorded and released is as his debut single on Goldwax in 1964. Less than a year later, Otis Redding got hold of the song and released it on The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, an album that has the most obvious title ever – it would be like a James Brown album called There Might Be Some Funk In Here.

Anyway, I'm not sure where Otis got the song from, but the music on his version is totally different from Wright's original (although the lyrics are the same): the chord changes are all different (Wrigth's version goes to the IV for the chorus, Otis just uses the same changes as the verse), Wright spaces his verse lyrics out while Otis packs them into two bars, and while Wright puts up a game effort, doing his best Sam Cooke impression, there is simply no way he can hang with Otis Redding, who was to soul balladry what Bono is to self-promotion.

Two months after Otis released his version, the Stones stepped into the Chess Studios in Hollywood to try their hand at "That's How Strong My Love Is". Now, I am an unabashed Otis fan, and I was not looking forward to seeing how the Stones handled this song considering the weak attempt at a previous Otis number. And it's true that while they used Otis's arrangement, the band's performance is pretty sloppy (especially the guitars). Mick's vocal, however, makes up for a lot of sins, this time anyway – his first great ballad performance. I will never doubt them again!