Monday, February 21, 2011

The Hammond Organ: Hope In A Hopeless World

Widespread Panic: Hope In A Hopeless World


Pops Staples: Hope In A Hopeless World


I went through a jamband phase the first time I went to college, and though my tastes tended to run towards less rock-oriented, more jazz and bluegrass-flavored jams such as those of Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, and Phish, it was hard not to notice and respect the fervent, Allman Brothers influenced sound of Widespread Panic in the smoke-filled air. Their 1997 version of this pseudo-seventies anthem is rich with funk, and the distinctive sound of the Hammond organ features prominently.

Some sort of electric organ also features in Pops Staples' original, cowritten with Philly-based songwriter Phil Roy, coproduced with daughter Mavis Staples, performed with Mavis and a rich layered set of studio musicians, and released on the Grammy-winning album Father, Father when Pops was a still-spry 78 years old - it certainly could be a Hammond, as there's a Hammond player listed in the album credits, but the pinched and clearly electronic "pop gospel" sound which kicks everything off makes me less confident about make or model.

There's also a somewhat cheesy version out there from Britpop musician Paul Young, which hit the streets almost simultaneous with the Pops Staples original - it, too, features the Hammond, but it's so overproduced I decided to skip it. Still, completists can check it out on YouTube.

Oh, and TOTAL bonus points: Here's Widespread Panic live with Hammond and with Mavis on vocals, covering the song again live and unpurchaseable, from a 2002 show in Memphis, TN:

Widespread Panic ft. Mavis Staples: Hope In A Hopeless World [live]

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