Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Use Me" - Bill Withers > Grace Jones > Jagger/ Kravitz > D'Angelo

ROCK Sex shows how a great song keeps its kick while taking on the flavors of each new artist.

Here's the Funk classic "Use Me" as an example.


Bill Withers is one of those people whose songs are so cool they always come back around: "Lean On Me", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Lovely Day", and "Two Of Us".

But besides perennial ballads, Bill could kick out some lean mean Funk with songs like "Who Is He And What Is He To You?", "The Same Thing That Made Me Laugh", and this stone classic.

BILL WITHERS -"Use Me" (1972)

Fred Wesley was the secret architect propelling The JB's behind James Brown, and the Horny Horns for Parliament/Funkadelic. This guy can say more with his saxophone than a hive of telemarketers.

FRED WESLEY -"Use Me" (1972)

Surprisingly, one of the first versions was by LIZA MINELLI, cruising on the heavy cred of the film CABARET, and she puts it to great use.

LIZA MINELLI -"Use Me" (1973)

Here's Jazz singer Kimiko Kasai finding it user-friendly.

KIMIKO KASAI -"Use Me" (1975)

As is her wont, Grace Jones upends everything over a slinky Reggae groove from Sly & Robbie.

GRACE JONES -"Use Me" (1981)

Mick Jagger did an inspired version of it with Lenny Kravitz, joined by his old friend and everyone's MVP, Billy Preston, on the funky clavinet.


Aaron Neville makes a fresh cruise with the groove in this moody video that lets us enjoy New Orleans before it got Bush-whacked. I like how he sings how his brother tried to talk sense into him and then you hear his actual brother Cyril ad-libbing along.

AARON NEVILLE -"Use Me" (1995)

D'ANGELO was another heir apparent to '70s Soul in the 1990s (along with Lenny Kravitz, Terence Trent D'Arby, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Dionne Farris). Here he is on a great musicians jam show with an alarmingly stellar backup band.

D'ANGELO + Friends -"Use Me" (live, 1998)

Fiona Apple has said she only listens to Classical and The Beatles, but clearly she's heard more than enough to shake her thang here.

FIONA APPLE -"Use Me" (live, 200?)

Ida Sand finds some new angles for Jazz, Blues, and Soul in hers.

IDA SAND -"Use Me" (2007)

From left field, Pete Yorn and the band Kinky (Mexico) make fine usage of Pyschedelia and Electronica.

PETE YORN And KINKY -"Use Me" (20)

"Yeah, I want to spread the news
That if it feels this good getting used
You can keep on using me till you use me up!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

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