Saturday, March 1, 2014
Battle of the Bands: Privilege
It's the first of the month and that means it's time for Battle of the Bands, the blog event started by the bloggers at Far Away Series and Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends. The point of the Battle is for you to listen to the songs presented below and then in the comment section tell us your favorite version and why you like that one the best. After you've voted here move on to the next participating blogs that you'll find listed below and vote on their match-ups.
Familiarity Breeds Bias
In the Battle I'm presenting in this post I've chosen a song that I'm pretty sure will be unfamiliar to most. Perhaps this will not go over with some of you, but my thought is that the purest Battle might be the one that starts out with no preconceived favorites or preferences due to having known a particular version. I think other Battles have shown an inclination for voters to go with the version they knew and discard the version that was "new" to their ears.
This will be my experiment and we'll see what you think. No crazy 80's song in this match-up. I'm sticking with a relatively safe sound from the 60's. Let me know if you like the song in addition to telling me which version you prefer. Please don't let the "newness" of the song be off-putting to your sense of fair judgment.
I will probably take this approach again in the future. That is unless I'm roundly lambasted by all for doing this. But of course it wouldn't be the first time.
(from the film soundtrack of the same name)
Wikipedia says: "Privilege is a British film directed by Peter Watkins. It was released in 1967...The story is set in the then near-future of the 1970s and concerns a disillusioned pop singer, played by Paul Jones, who is manipulated by the church and state which seek to turn him into a messianic leader."
In his review of Privilege Roger Ebert said "This is a bitter, uncompromising movie, and although it isn't quite successful it is fascinating and important."
I do not recall ever hearing this song in the film itself so either I missed it or it was only on the soundtrack of the album. The song encapsulates what the movie is about.
Confusingly, on YouTube you can find recordings of "Set Me Free", another song used in the movie, listed as "Privilege (Set Me Free)". This song was later covered by Patti Smith. There are several places on the internet where these two songs have been confused.
In this post I pit the original film soundtrack version by Paul Jones, who had been the lead singer for Manfred Mann, against the Canadian group The Sugar Shoppe.
Paul Jones "Privilege" (1967)
If this song was not actually used in the film, this version by Paul Jones certainly would have fit well in the context of the film. Paul Jones has been a significant presence in Britain's entertainment industry while remaining relatively unknown elsewhere. He's been associated with a number of notable music artists in his career, but is most known as the singer and harmonica player in the early inception of the band Manfred Mann. His solo career did not take off as well as expected after his starring role in Privilege, though he has remained a mainstay in film, media, and music in Britain.
Sugar Shoppe "Privilege" (1968)
The Sugar Shoppe was Canada's answer to the Mamas and Papas. They were good, but never really caught on despite appearances on shows such as Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. Their album was critically well received, but only a modest seller. They were together only a few years before going their separate ways. Most of you have probably seen the leader of the group Victor Garber. He's had a solid theater, television, and film career, appearing in films such as Titanic, Argo, and Sleepless in Seattle. He played the role of Jesus in the 1973 film Godspell. Sci-fi fans might recall his role as Jack Bristow in the J.J. Abrams ABC series Alias.
The album "The Sugar Shoppe" is a well-produced foray into the realms of "sunshine pop". Nice vocal harmonies with a strong back-up by top studio musicians bring an eclectic collection of tunes ranging from the vaudeville novelty sounding "Poor Papa" to the country flavored Bobbie Gentry "Papa, Won't You Let Me Go to Town" to the darker sound of "Privilege" featured in this Battle. If you're a fan of vocal groups, The Sugar Shoppe is a group you might want to explore further.
By the way, the stereo separation in the video below is rather extreme as many recordings back then were. If you don't get a good balance of channels on your computer you can click the link above in the heading of this section to hear a scratchy mono version that is from a 45. You may want to listen to both if you're curious.
Listen to The Sugar Shack's version of "Privilege"
Now It's Up To You
Which version do you prefer? Please don't say neither. Pick one and then visit the other participants listed below:
Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends
Your Daily Dose
I'll announce the winner of this Battle on Friday March 7th. If you'd like to read more about the background of why I chose this song, I hope you'll visit my post at my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.