Week 4: Hit/Miss
Originally posted at 4BB 2.0 on July 7th, 2008:
Hello kiddies! Let me start by saying thank you to everyone who sent well wishes and what not to me and my wife (I’ve gotta get used to saying that now). We had a real quiet honeymoon just down the road from home in Delaware at her stepfather’s place. As always, the rest and relaxation ruled supreme, but when it came time to hit the streets, I did so with every intention of getting at least a little bit of digging in. It was a bit difficult, considering the only place to buy records in Rehobeth Beach is the one corporate chain that I swore I would never visit again. Be that as it may, I had to stop in because after all, they have vinyl, and I made a vow to leave no crate or bin undug…
…and boy am I glad I did because buried deep within the masses of John Denver, Englebert Humperdinck and other worthless throwaways, I found this. While it ain’t the most expensive LP I own, it’s one that I thought I’d never find, especially in Delaware. Without further ado, for my first official post as an “official” member of the team, let’s get our ears dirty with “Odetta Sings”.
It’s no secret that this record, released in 1970, contains the highly sought after Funk classic “Hit Or Miss”, but as I dug deeper into it, I found that she did a tremendous job covering the works of some of the greatest lyricists of our time. Pay close attention to “Take Me To The Pilot”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and “Give A Damn”. Wonderful readings all. It’s also important to note and give mad props to the mighty Muscle Shoals Studios for playing host to the recording session (or at least half of it at any rate). The other half was done in Los Angeles with songwriting legend Carole King leading the musical charge. Other notable musicians include Russ Kunkel, Clydie King and the legendary Merry Clayton.
Now while I don’t agree with what they said, in the interest of keeping with the format I included this review (?) from AMG:
When Bob Dylan released Street Legal using horns, choirs, and hordes of session musicians, the result gave an idea of how tired he was, and Odetta Sings seems to be the result of similar situation, including tiredness and lack of new ideas. Most of the tracks are covers, the original artists ranging from Elton John to James Taylor, made into R&B. The band is as distinguished as can be expected, including Merry Clayton on vocals, and, at times, the groove and the gospel feeling gives a hint of the Staple Singers, but often it sounds just like the slightly pompous soulified pop that would haunt arena concerts throughout the ’70s when the artists of the previous decade ran out of creativity. And it is uncertain if it’s merit that Odetta took on this style before it became really popular. Only two songs are written by Odetta herself, “Hit or Miss” and “Movin’ It On,” which is a shame since they are by far the best tracks of the album. Odetta’s deep, dark, warm voice distinguishes her from most soul singers, and these two songs give an idea of what it could have sounded like had she decided to release a real soul album — an album without one single Paul McCartney song.
Now that wasn’t very flattering, was it…? Well, don’t take their word for it, listen and judge for yourself – is this a “Hit Or Miss”!?
I hope that I’m making a good first impression… I’ve got more in store, trust me. Until the next time, have fun – and as always, be safe.