D’aily 10/28/21: Heaven Must Be Like This

We’re onto the next in a series of classic soul tracks that D’Angelo covered for relatively obscure 1990s movie soundtracks. Today we get the mellow 70s soul of “Heaven Must Be Like This” originally recorded by Ohio Players for their 1974 album Skin Tight. I’m always impressed by young D’Angelo’s knowledge of soul music and his knack for covering songs that aren’t obvious. When he covered Prince he didn’t choose “When Doves Cry” or “Purple Rain.” He chose “She’s Always In My Hair,” the B-side of the “Raspberry Beret” single. Ohio Players are a legendary band, but he didn’t go with “Love Rollercoaster” or “Fire.” He went deeper.

This is something D has continued throughout his career. I was lucky enough to witness D’Angelo and Questlove performing together at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN, in the summer of 2013 and they didn’t perform D’Angelo songs. It was damn near all obscure covers for over two hours. When he performed at Bonnaroo in 2012 it was the same thing. Here’s a great clip of him covering “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” by The Beatles. We all know “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday” but that would’ve been too easy. He also performed “My Summertime Thang” by Prince. D had an in-depth knowledge of good soul music at a young age.

“Heaven Must Be Like This” was recorded by D’Angelo for the 1998 movie Down in the Delta. The movie was directed by Maya Angelou and starred Alfre Woodard, Loretta Devine, and Wesley Snipes, among others. It scored a strong 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the reviews I saw were not so kind. One referred to it as “pallid mediocrity.” Damn. This movie would not have been up my alley in 1998, and honestly, I forgot that it existed. I’m stunned to see that Maya Angelou directed, which immediately led me to IMDb to see if she directed any other movies. She did not. This was her one and only.

Since we’re listening to another D’Angelo cover I’m going to say the same thing I did in an earlier post: I enjoy D’s covers more when they stray a bit from the original and he puts his own funk on it. “Heaven Must Be Like This” is another near exact cover of the original. D’s version is a bit faster and I like his voice better, but I don’t consider it essential D’Angelo. The people who compiled his 2008 The Best So Far collection disagreed. They included it among his greatest hits. I suppose when you’re creating a greatest hits collection from an artist who only had two albums to his credit at that point you have to take music from any source you can find.

In case you hadn’t caught on, this isn’t one of my favorite D’Angelo songs. I dig it, but I would’ve chosen something else to add to his Best So Far album, including tomorrow’s song. A D’Angelo original after a couple days of him performing other people’s music. Have yourself a good Thursday. I get to take my daughter to see Wicked, so I’m having a great one. We’ll close out the week strong tomorrow. Good day to you.

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