The original Temptations version of this song is one of my all-time favorites, but Al Green's version, which initially appeared on his 1971 LP "Gets Next to You", blows it out of the water. As far as I know, this live version is only available on his 1997 box set, but it's worth the price of admission alone. Absolutely dripping with sexual tension & near-religious fervor, you won't soon forget it.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. Rod Stewart?? But hold your horses, buckeroos! This is one incredible funky take on Rod's old show-stopper. Simtec & Wylie were a duo from Chicago who were modeled after such testifyin' '60s soul acts as Sam & Dave, Williams & Watson, Bob & Earl, Mel & Tim and the like. In the early 70s, they signed up with Gene Chandler's (of "Duke of Earl" fame) vanity label, Mister Chand. There, somebody convinced them that recording a cover of "Maggie May" would be a great idea. It was. First of all, they got rid of that exasperatingly unfunky mandolin intro from the original and replaced it with an electric guitar with heavy feedback. They also sped the tempo up considerably, transforming the whole thing from something rather cloying into a defiant statement...these boys aren't content to remember their time with Maggie, they're back to show her what they've learned in the meantime.
Sounds almost like a country-rock interpretation of their own early-60s hits, with absolutely breathtaking harmonies that prove that Brian wasn't the only gifted composer in the band. But what is that instrument in the background, a mellotron, perhaps? Great lyrics: "Have you ever been down Salinas way?/where Steinbeck found the valley/and he wrote about it the way it was in his travelin's with Charlie."
Jimmy Scott turns in a monumental take on this Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein standard. Scott's languid feminine phrasing and incredible diction really cause him to stand head and shoulders above nearly all other jazz vocalists. In this performance, he takes material that could come out rather saccharine and injects a healthy dose of pain into it. The result is a throughly memorable, soulful ballad. Due to Scott's lack of a record contract, this recording remained unreleased until 1993.