Recycle It!: Rock Steady With Sue Ann's Take On An Aretha Classic

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For those of you who want to sing an Aretha Franklin song and actually be serious about it...yeah, just sit your butt down. You can't do it. You'll get up start to warble out a couple of chords of "Chain Of Fools" and part way in, you're looking the fool. Still it's all forgivable, as it takes a special kind to be on the same level as the Queen of Soul and only few have managed to get to that zenith point.

In a way, Sue Ann Carwell latches onto Aretha's energy in her rendition of "Rock Steady" and just takes it too the next level. True, the cover is shellacked over with a shiny, patent leather New Jack Swing exterior, but it's Sue Ann's powerhouse vocals that drive this song into being a mighty fine tackle of Aretha's 1971 classic (of which you can see Aretha work it on out below in a vintage Soul Train clip).

Sue Ann's name isn't recognizable, as is this cover song, though her connections through Prince (she was once pegged as the lead vocalist for The Time) and Giorgio Moroder (he produced her 1981 debut no audience) make her seem apart of the musical movement of the 80's, yet she was only standing in the wings. In 1988, she dropped Blue Velvet, a spicy album that featured production credits from Time alum, Jesse Johnson, was heavy on the attitude and hefty with the sounds. I have unabashed love for Blue Velvet because it's just what you'd want on an New Jack album and wedged in the middle of it, is this little dime piece. On first glance, I wasn't sold, thinking, "Cute, she's going to do Aretha", but after listening, it really stood toe to toe with the original. Dispell the obligatory late 80's rap, and synth/drum machine effects placed in here, and listen to Sue Ann really throw it down, rocking steady throughout.

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