Original v. Cover — #31 in a Series

Otis Redding Pictures, Images and Photos

Aretha Franklin Pictures, Images and Photos

This week’s selection was written and recorded as a blues tune by a well-known and successful male Motown performer in 1965, reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Black Singles Chart, and crossed over to a wider audience, peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. This song’s success did not end here, however.

A rising female Motown star recorded her version on February 14, 1967, along with two sisters who provided backing vocals. King Curtis’ tenor saxophone was added to this recording, and became part of her debut album, entitled, “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”, the title track becoming a hit in its own right.  This week’s selection was later released as a single, attaining far greater success than the original.  The song remained at the #1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and retained the same position for eight weeks on the Billboard Black Singles chart. This song also went to #10 on the charts in the U.K., propelling the performer to international stardom.  

The story line of the song was originally told from a male perspective, but the lyrics were modified to communicate a feminine point of view.  This song was to become an anthem for the budding feminist movement,

The 1967 hit version earned the performer two Grammy Awards in 1968 for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female.  This performer would later be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.  In 2002, the Library of Congress added this version to the National Recording Registry.  This interpretation was ranked #5 on Rolling Stone’s list of  The 500 Gratest Songs of All Time, and was also included on their list of The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.  And finally, this song was included in the list of Songs of the Century, as determined by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.  

In case you haven’t guessed the performers and the song yet, without further ado, the featured song this week is the 1965 hit by Otis Redding and 1967 megahit by Aretha Franklin — “Respect.”  

Otis Redding’s original version from September, 1965, would reach the top 5 on the Black Singles chart and a  #35 ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  This Stax recording was produced by Steve Cropper, who also played the guitar, along with Isaac Hayes on keyboards.  

Johnny Rivers  recorded his interpretation of “Respect” in 1966…

The Rationals, a regional band from the Detroit area, recorded this arrangement in 1966. Their recording received airplay on the Detroit radio stations and was likely already familiar to Franklin and her sisters when they recorded their hit version a year later.  In this humble writer’s opinion, this is one of the more interesting cover versions in this sequence.  They introduced some unique twists and turns into the song, with background harmonies that are somewhat reminiscent of the early Beatles.  Enjoy!  

The Vagrants were a Long Island-based rock and blue-eyed soul group from the 1960s. Here is their rendition, which became a minor hit in the Eastern United States. From March, 1967…

Aretha Franklin’s iconic cover version would make its first appearance on the Billboard Top 40 list in May, 1967. Despite placing 33 recordings on the Billboard Top 40 charts, this would be Aretha’s only #1 song, edging out “Chain of Fools”, which topped out at the #2 slot.

Jimmy Smith, Hammond B-3 extraordinaire, performs his interpretation of “Respect” in 1967, included on the album by the same name.

Stevie Wonder – 1967

Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations – September, 1968

Janis Joplin’s version was similar to Redding’s, as part of a September, 1968 studio improvisation.  This version appears on the unofficial album, “Rarer Pearls”, which contains various other Joplin Studio and live cuts…

Cass Elliot (of the Mamas and the Papas) and Sammy Davis, Jr. performed “Respect” as part of a medley with “I Dig Rock and Roll Music”, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “What’d I Say” and another Franklin hit, “Think.”  This performance took place on the variety show The Hollywood Palace in 1969…

Rock & Rock Hall of Fame members and Grammy winners Ike and Tina Turner  released their version of “Respect”  on their 1971 double live album What You Hear Is What You Get (Live at Carnegie Hall…)

British pop-soul group Dexy Midnight Runners from 1982…

The English band Wolfgang Press performed this rendition in 1984…

R&B artist Adeva turns in a fine interpretation in 1989, which rose to #17 on the pop charts in the U.K.

Sixteen-year-old Pamela Petrarolo  performs “Respect” on Italian television, in June, 1993

Country star Reba McEntire in a live performance from 1995…

Aretha Franklin & the Blues Brothers – 1998


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  1. Don’t recognize Otis Redding after hearing his rendition of “Respect”?  His only Top 10 hit ever, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, first appeared on the Top 40 charts on February 10, 1968, holding down the #1 spot for four consecutive weeks.  For a nostalgic trip down memory lane…

  2. Glad to see your covers again. I look forward to your detailed presentations every week.

    I`m just finishing up with mine & I`ll be back for my music fix.

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