Whole lotta ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – CCS, King Curtis, Tina Turner
I’ll own up to the fact that when I dive headfirst down a rabbit hole on the trail of (hopefully) related information on a subject that I am researching, it is usually of my own volition.
And I admit that most times I end up empty handed, dirty and late for dinner.
With this next set of performances though, it was closer to falling into an open manhole – I didn’t see it coming.
I wasn’t looking for anything related to these songs, the first one simply showed up in the “up next” cue on the right side of my YouTube screen when I was searching for something else.
I managed to ignore it (for a little while) but my curiosity was piqued by the title and description – Ike and Tina Turner doing ‘Whole Lotta Love’? Must have be a different song with the same name. Move on. Nothing to see here.
And I tried, I really did. But, like an itch that I had to scratch, I clicked on it:
Tina Turner: vocal /
Ray Parker, Jr. & Spencer Proffer: guitars /
Henry Davis: bass / Ed Greene: drums /
Allen Lindgren & Jimmie Haskell: arp, moog and string ensemble
The Sid Sharp Strings: strings
Julia Tillman Waters, Kim Carnes & Maxine Willard Waters: backing vocals
Released on, “Acid Queen” (United Artists 1975)
Whole Lotta Love (5:23)
The clip that I clicked on billed the piece as being by Ike & Tina Turner (I didn’t post that one as it cuts off after the false fade). Ike in fact had nothing to do with this recording, although he did write and produce the four tracks on the LP’s B-side.
Side One of the album consisted of covers of various rock numbers, including two by the Rolling Stones, two by The Who; the title track and ‘I Can See for Miles’, and this one.
All were done in the style of this piece, with the synthesized sound that instantly dates the music. The producers have chosen to replace the raucous high energy of the originals with a distinctly “European” laidback approach that was becoming popular at the time. A counter-intuitive choice with a performer such as Tina Turner.
If anything, I think this approach works best with this number as it is such a dramatic reversal from the “original” that it works just for the sheer novelty of it.
While listening to the number, I noticed that the next song in the cue on that page, was another version of the song, this one by the great King Curtis.
Released as the A-side of a single, this number was first released on LP in 1986 and only made it to CD in 1994 on a Rhino Records compilation “Rock Instrumental Classics, Vol. 3: The Seventies”
Apparently, there are no records of who may have played on this track aside from Curtis. And as we will see, this may have been inspired by another similar cover, by the British ensemble CCS.
King Curtis and The Kingpins
King Curtis: tenor saxophone /
Remaining personnel not known
Recorded December 14, 1970, in New York City (studio not known)
Released, A-side, Atco single (date not known)
Whole Lotta Love (2:45)
While it can be said that this too, like Turner’s version, is of its time, I feel that this far better captures the energy and spirit of Led Zeppelin’s number. The guitar, drums, percussion and brass fit together seamlessly to produce a hard-charging work that stands on its own while acknowledging its source.
Six weeks later Curtis was at the Fillmore West backing Aretha Franklin and performing his own sets with his band The Kingpins and this far funkier version was captured on tape:
King Curtis and The Kingpins
King Curtis: tenor saxophone /
Cornell Dupree: guitar / Jerry Jemmott: bass /
Bernard Purdie: drums /
Billy Preston: organ / Truman Thomas: electric piano /
Pancho Morales: congas /
Andrew Love & Jimmy Mitchell: tenor saxophones / Lou Collins: baritone saxophone /
Wayne Jackson, Roger Hopps: trumpets / Jack Hale: trombone
Recorded February 06, 1971, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
Released, “King Curtis – Live at Fillmore West” (Atco 1971)
Whole Lotta Love (2:32)
Curtis now takes the lead, replacing the guitars, and Bernard Purdie’s drums dominate the mix. Although only slightly shorter than the studio take, it seems to go by too quickly, with the breakdown in the middle losing the thread and dissipating the energy of both the Zeppelin song and the studio take.
The band fights hard to bring it back, especially Dupree, but I prefer the arrangement on the studio recording.
I mentioned an earlier version by CCS a group of British musicians (a group in the sense that who played on a given track depended on availability and the requirements of the song). Formed by Alexis Korner, along with arranger John Cameron and producer Mickie Most, the band was intended to be a recording ensemble.
Their version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was originally released as the B-side of their first single but after the initial pressing, ‘Boom Boom’ the original A-side, was relegated to the underside.
CCS (Collective Conscience Society)
Alexis Korner: guitar & vocal /
Harold McNair: flute /
Remaining personnel: not known*
Released, A-side RAK single (U.K.) September 1970
Whole Lotta Love (3:36)
This most likely served as the template for the King Curtis recording, with McNair’s flute being replaced by Curtis’ saxophone. The stacked horns give the number more of big band feel which is fun but the arrangement, especially the break, now brings to mind the credit sequence to a 1970’s cop show, with the horns highlighting the action complete with freeze-frames of the “bad guys” hurling towards the camera from a punch by our hero.
It should be noted that all of the above were credited to J.Page, R. Plant, J. Jones and J. Bonham – Willie Dixon’s lawsuit against Led Zeppelin was not brought until 1985.
I had been unaware of any of these covers until just this week – I hope that you found them as interesting as I did.
*If anyone can provide more information as to the players on this track, please post – Thank You