I have covered Joe South in this space, on the podcast, and over at Funky16Corners a number of times over the years.
South is best known for the covers of his songs, by artists like Billy Joe Royal, the Tams and Lynn Anderson, and fans are aware of his own string of amazing albums for Capitol in the late 60s.
He was not only a major songwriter, but also a stylist in his own right.
By 1975, South was at the end of his rope, dealing with substance abuse and depression related to the suicide of his brother.
‘Midnight Rainbows’ was South’s last full length album, and saw him switching over to Island Records.The LP was almost half covers of other people’s songs, one of which is today’s selection.
Leon Russell is another one of my faves, and though he had a few songs become standards (like ‘This Masquerade’ and ‘Superstar’), South’s version of ‘Stranger In a Strange Land’ (originally done by Russell on ‘Leon Russell and the Shelter People’ in 1971) is the only cover of that song I’ve ever encountered.
South adds a kick to he tempo of the song, whipping a little bit of southern funk on it.
Overall, ‘Midnight Rainbows’ isn’t one of his stronger albums, but it’s always cool to hear one songwriting giant pay tribute to the work of another.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you all next week.
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