Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - First I Look at the Purse

In keeping with Old Stuff Friday tradition here, I'm going to post something old each Friday, and until further notice, it'll be a a soul song.

We'll kick it off with a Motown classic and one of my all-time my favorite party tunes. Penned by American poet laureate William "Smokey" Robinson, quoted here in all its politically incorrect glory:

"I don't care if her teeth are big / I don't care if her legs are big / I don't care if her hair is a wig / Why waste time lookin' at the waist line? / Cuz first I look at the purse"

A big part of Motown's magic was how well Berry Gordy matched material to artist. He couldn't let sweet-voiced Smokey do this track, or the Four Tops with the great Levi Stubbs, so serious and raw, nor did he let it go to the smooth and soulful David Ruffin and the Temptations. No, "First I Look at the Purse" could only be done by Motown's dance party kings, the Contours.

This recording is so slamming. Check out the rhythm playing and those hand claps. And the lead vocal. Damn. I've listened to it for 40+ yrs and never tire of it, brings smile to my face every time.

And while white rock bands covering soul songs is sometimes not the best thing, a pale imitation as it were, I gotta say the J. Geils Band also do this track justice. But nothing touches the Contours version.

1 comment:

John Hyland said...

JD, great stuff! It's kind of a coincidence, you choosing this song... Wanda Jackson's reemergence as part of Jack White's Third Man menagerie had me searching for writings by Nick Tosches, who I recall was always a Jackson fan... found this:

You're in good company...