A Treasure Found Who Knows Where

Originally posted July 17, 2007

As I wandered through the collection last evening in search of an interesting cover version to share this week, it struck me that I could easily go for months sharing nothing but covers of Bob Dylan songs.

I mean, I’ve got eleven cover versions along of “All Along the Watchtower,” six of “I Shall Be Released” and four of “Lay, Lady, Lay.” And that’s without really looking hard through the collection. Some of those were tempting for this week – I looked real hard at a couple of tracks by Richie Havens – but as I posted a Bob Dylan cover last week, I thought I’d find another original source for this week.

So I began to make a list of titles of cover songs to consider. I got about halfway through “B” before something grabbed me very hard.

A while back, before I was really serious about blogging, I ran across a great share at another blog. A month or so later, and I would have had the sense to keep track of where I found it so I could give credit. But I don’t know where I was wandering in the world of music blogs that day, and an hour of searching with Google last night didn’t bring me anything I recognized.

The group is Sisters Love. According to the blog Disco Delivery, Sisters Love was made up of former Raelettes – Ray Charles’ backing singers – including Merry Clayton. The group recorded for a while at A&M, getting a few singles out but never hitting it big. The group moved to Motown, with Clayton departing. There, Sisters Love released singles on Motown and its affiliated labels but again, didn’t hit. The group never released an album.

According to Kent Browning, a reviewer at Amazon.com, the original roster – in addition to Clayton – was Vermettya Royster on lead vocals, Jeanne Long, Lillie Fort and Gwen Berry.

It’s sometimes amazing that music as good as that recorded by Sisters Love can be released and then be for the most part ignored. As far as I can tell, none of the group’s records went anywhere on the charts, certainly not into the Top 40. Eventually, there is some justice, however. Last year, the Soul Jazz label released Give Me Your Love, a sixteen-track anthology of the Sisters Love’s recordings from about 1968 into 1973 or so. I’ve heard it a couple of times, and every track is a keeper. (The CD is available through Amazon.com.)

So thanks to whatever blog it was that made today’s Tuesday Cover possible: Sisters Love’s take on the Lennon-McCartney tune “Blackbird.”

Sisters Love – “Blackbird” [A&M 1178, 1970]


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