As I’m typing the D’aily every night I’m realizing something I had forgotten: D’Angelo had quite a few cover songs early in his career. We’ve already listened to “Fencewalk” and “I’m Glad You’re Mine” in the past two weeks. However, both of these tracks were from his 1998 Live at the Jazz Cafe album. Today we have our first studio cover.
We also have another D’Angelo late-1990s phenomenon: Songs from relatively obscure soundtracks. For someone as selective as D’Angelo seems to be about when and where he releases his music, he had a prolific run of soundtrack songs back in the day. Many of the songs D’Angelo contributed to those soundtracks were covers.
“Girl You Need a Change of Mind” is one of those songs. It’s a cover of a 1972 Eddie Kendricks song that was included in the 1996 Spike Lee joint Get on the Bus. D’Angelo (or his record label) thought highly enough of this song to include it on his 2004 The Best So Far… compilation. To be completely honest, I had kind of forgotten about this cover. While the track falls right in the middle of the Venn diagram showing D’Angelo cover songs and D’Angelo soundtrack songs, it falls in the middle of my Venn diagram of movies I’ve never seen and soul singers that I don’t know much about.
I know that Eddie Kendrick (a.k.a. Eddie Kendricks) is soul royalty, but he’s better known – at least by me, but I’m guessing most people – as one of the lead vocalists for the Temptations. My parents listened to a lot of Motown when I was a kid and the Temps may have been my dad’s favorite. I was hearing Eddie when I was a kid, but none of his solo stuff. “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” comes from his second solo album People…Hold On. The song was a modest hit reaching #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart and #13 on the Soul Chart.
Get On The Bus is the rare Spike Lee joint from the 1990s that I didn’t see. Not sure why, but my guess would be that it wasn’t showing in Green Bay movie theaters. I was aware of the movie and I purchased the soundtrack for one reason: It had a D’Angelo song.
So, how is D’s version of the song? Like a few of those 1990s cover tracks, it’s mostly a copy of the original. It does not stray far from the Eddie Kendricks version, which is fine because it’s a cool song, but a little disappointing. I expect D’Angelo to add some of his own flavor to a song, but in this case, we’re talking about him at 22 years old. My theory is that at such a young age he was more about paying tribute to legends than he was about trying to transform their songs. Maybe he wasn’t as confident in his craft yet or even thought he wasn’t worthy of toying with songs from such legends. He covered Eddie Kendricks, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Prince, Mandrill, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, and Ohio Players in those early years. My apologies if I missed someone, but that’s already a significant list. My point is, listen to the D’Angelo version of “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” next to the Eddie Kendricks version. When you’re done with that, listen to Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and follow that up with D’Angelo’s version of the same song. 2000 Voodoo-era D’Angelo was different. He was five years older. Established. He made that shit his own. They’re the same song but they’re two completely different songs. I’d love to hear him take another run at “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” now and see what he does with it.
Before I wrap up today I’m going to make a public service announcement: Beware of bootleg vinyl. I found the copy of The Best So Far… on vinyl several years ago and picked it up knowing that it was a low quality import. There isn’t an official vinyl release of that album or I’d buy it, but when I saw the import I figured that was the next best thing, so I grabbed it. The sound quality is…wobbly? Whatever the process is these fools use for transferring music to vinyl, the did a mediocre job on this one. It sounds like someone is occasionally shaking the turntable. Also, those bootlegs always look too big. It’s like the people cutting them got lazy and left an extra 1/8 inch on it. At least it’s better than the copy I have of Childish Gambino’s R O Y A L T Y which looks gigantic and sounds like static. Please release a proper vinyl pressing of The Best So Far… so I can buy it and never have to spin this knockoff bullshit again.
That’s all for this Wednesday. Someone help me find a more creative way to sign off of these D’aily posts. Every day I’m like, “Welp, see you later,” and that’s the end. Do you want me to tease tomorrow’s post? Would that be fun. I don’t even know what it is yet. I haven’t consulted the D’aily Random Song Generator yet today. Let’s try it and let me know what you think. Ready?
Tomorrow’s song gives me chills because every time I hear the last 30 seconds I think, “Is this the last I’ll ever hear from D’Angelo?” Does that whet your appetite? Or, did I just ruin the surprise. I think I just ruined it. Whatever. I’ll be back tomorrow. I hope you will, too.