The Grammy Award wining team that gave us Joss Stone’s “Soul Sessions,” has stepped back into the fray, with Elise LeGrow. Her debut album “Playing CHESS,” produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini and Betty Wright, features 12 hits from the vintage label.

The female vocalist gives us re-invented versions of the songs, “Who Do You Love,” “You Never Can Tell” and “Rescue Me,” originally performed by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Fontella Bass respectively. Her version of Diddley’s hit, raises the bar on George Thurgood & the Destroyers 2003 version, and she slows Bass’ classic down. The direction of this, is somewhat reminiscent of Patsy Cline’s take, on Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”

While the producers and LeGrow elevated original versions of, “Going Back Where I Belong” (original by Sugar Pie DeSanto) and “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” (original by Wayne Cochran), they stuck with traditional elements for the rest of the album. ‘You Can’t Judge a Book,’ is meshed as opposed to mashed, with Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” Although the Chess roster consisted primarily black American talent, Cochran was one “Blue-Eyed Soul” brother, who shamelessly emulated James Brown in his stage show.

The other songs on the CD include: “Hold On” by The Radiants; “Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” by Johnnie & Joe; “Searching for My Love” by Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces; “Can’t Shake It” by Etta James; “Sincerely” by The Moonglows”; and the monumental “Long Lonely Nights” by Lee Andrews and The Hearts. All the production of the aforementioned tunes, were merely freshened up, for a latter day sound. The team of Greenberg, Mangini & Wright, wisely kept out the doo-wop, on LeGrow’s cover of “Sincerely.”

One footnote regarding the Moonglows – Marvin Gaye’s first lead vocal, was on the song “Mama Loocie” of the “New Moonglows,” created by Harvey Fuqua – not discounting Gaye’s rap on “Twelve Months of the Year.”

Johnnie & Joe Original…

for the LOVE of Classics


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