Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Hammond Organ: Yesterday

Una Valli with The Peanut Butter Conspiracy: Yesterday

[Out of print]

I have been reluctant to post this song, mainly because I am usually rather rubbish at identifying the instruments used in songs. When I like a sound, I spend little thought on whether it was made by a customised 4072 Hammond, somebody doing clever things involving a glass filled with pink sludge and a rare reed handpicked by naked maidens in the jungles of unexplored Indonesia, or on a computer. So, I at least think this splendid soul version of Yesterday from 1968 by South African soul singer Una Valli qualifies. It certainly features some sort of organ-like instrument. Possibly even a Hammond.

Had Valli not been from the pop backwaters of South Africa, from which only a few of many very talented artists have escaped, she would be highly regarded among soul fans. She might even have been a star, marketed as a white woman with as much soul as Aretha (and the hype would not have been easily dismissed).

Yesterday appeared on her LP Soul Meeting!!, on which she roped in the services of fellow South African soulsters The Flames and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy. It’s the latter that back Una on Yesterday, the unjustly reviled McCartney composition which has spawned thousands of risible covers. This is one of the few versions that show what a fine song Yesterday actually is.

Also check out Valli’s great version of Satisfaction, from the same album.

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