One of the most memorable musical weeks of my life happened at the end of October in 1986. Elvis Costello took over Broadway for a 5 night run that included shows with The Attractions and The Confederates, as well as one of the first ever shows with the Spinning Songbook. I was there all five nights and to this day, these shows stand as some of the best I have ever seen.
But something else happened that week. I discovered a few songs that have since become all-time favorites. Costello played many covers during the two shows with the Confederates, a band that included the legendary James Burton, Jerry Scheff and Jim Keltner. Prior to these shows, I had never heard of "It Tears Me Up." I knew Percy Sledge, but I couldn't name anything more than "When A Man Loves A Woman." Another was "That's How You Got Killed Before," a tune by the New Orleans master Dave Bartholomew. Sure, I knew plenty of Fats Domino, but somehow, the great riches of New Orleans music hadn't quite yet found me.
And then there was "Runnin' Out Of Fools," a song that Costello nailed. It took me awhile, as this was before iMacs, but I eventually found Aretha Franklin's version.
Miss Franklin has a whole lotta hits. Each better than the one before it. But I don't mind saying, "Runnin' Out Of Fools" falls in to my Top 5.
Before Aretha made history with Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler at Atlantic, she had something resembling a career. I was too young to see it, but I'll take an educated guess and say, no one cared and many probably hadn't heard of Aretha Franklin until those first hits on Atlantic. But those early records on Columbia are quite good. Not quite the soul we've come to love, but some very convincing pop, jazz and rhythm and blues.
This got me thinking.
Is there an artist you love with a solid selection of material that came before the material that put them on the map for good?
Another artist that comes to mind is Shelby Lynne. Long before Bill Bottrell gave Lynne a makeover and helped create the lush acoustic pop and soul of "I Am Shelby Lynne," Lynne was making cheesy country records.
David Bowie's unlistenable Anthony Newley pop of his pre-"Space Oddity" material comes to mind, as well.
Of course, there was The Beatles with Tony Sheridan, but this is not what I am looking for.
The early material by these artists is better left unheard, at least to my ears.
Is there one song by a band or group that you would rank as high as I rank Aretha's "Runnin' Out Of Fools" that comes from a part of their career that has been neglected?