Get yourself a nice cuppa, sit back and relax. This is another long one, and it’s not broken into two parts because there was really no big delineation between the versions I liked and the versions that sucked. They were all pretty good to me.
“If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Wanna Be Right)” is a cheating song. There’s no way around it. But cover battles are not about the morality of the situations depicted in the songs so I’m not gonna rant over it. I just like the song and I’m gonna leave it at that.
I’ve never really listened to Millie Jackson’s music. I just remember when I was younger not being allowed to because she was “For Adults Only”. Like the Richard Pryor albums my parents had. Yep, Millie definitely has a reputation for being raunchy; some would say downright nasty.
She’s got a wonderful, deep soul sound and a realness to her voice – in her singing and her spoken patter during the song. Millie seems like she’d be straight up honest with you and not give a damn about whether you like it or not. She knows what she wants and will not let anyone dissuade her from her goal, whether it’s wrong or whether it’s right.
Country singer Barbara Mandrell is a little more up-tempo than the traditional slow grind of Millie’s versions. The only YouTube comment on Barbara’s version brought up the point that Millie’s version has the singer sounding guilty about it whereas Barbara is actually more wanton and celebratory about this fantastic love that she’s found. I think that’s a good take on it, although I think Millie’s characterization definitely reveals a lot of enjoyment of lusty, naughty aspects of the whole situation. I like Barbara’s version but I think the slower, more r & b arrangements fit it better. They bring more of a deeper, raw emotionality to the piece.
The piano intro to Rod Stewart’s version threw me off. It’s gonna take me a few listens to get used to it. I think Rod’s a magnificently talented artist in all sorts of different musical genres. As the song continues on I’m liking his vocals more and more. It’s just that opening and the first minute or so that wasn’t thrilling me so much.
The late great David Ruffin brings it back to the more soulful, desperately wanting trail. He’s a man who knows he’s guilty of betraying his family but just can’t help himself. It’s like without his “chick on the side” he would go insane. You can actually feel his conflict with being a good man and still encouraging/pursuing the outside relationship.
LeAnn Rimes, like Barbara Mandrell, is also a country singer. But her rendition does keep a somewhat soulful tinge to her twang as well as reveal some level of emotional conflict akin to David’s version. I enjoyed hearing her version and may have to investigate some more of her music.
The Ramsey Lewis cover is strictly instrumental. It grooves and swerves and would actually be great background music for sexy time. With a partner or a side dish. There is some incredibly jazzy piano work on this that I find captivating and funky yet so very mellow.
Tom Jones. I remember watching his tv variety show when I was younger and just swooning over him before I knew what swooning and lady tingles were all about. The man is 73. If I knew I could get him to my place, I would break into a pharmacy, grab all the Viagra I could find, come home, wait for him to show up on my doorstep, invite him inside and let the panties drop. When I think of Tom Jones I think of that intoxicating Welsh accent and those beautifully swiveling hips.
Oh, sorry – I think I passed out for a moment, but I’m back now. That is one soulful dude. Passionate and effortlessly sexy. He oozes sex appeal. In the best possible way. This is a great song for Tom. The story, the arrangement just fit with his song styling and personal magnetism and charm. And raw oozing sex appeal. Unf.
Percy Sledge does a fine bluesy interpretation. Very passionate and heartfelt. I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t know that Isaac Hayes aka “Black Moses” tackled the song as well. Isaac brings big orchestration to this version, making it over in his style yet keeping the sexiness, power and emotional grit of the song intact while elevating it to another level.
I have to say that Cassandra Wilson’s interpretation is really my favorite. I think her voice may be kind of an acquired taste for some people. It took me a few listens before I grew to appreciate what a unique way she has of relaying emotion and expressing her artistry. Her voice is very deep and throaty yet not guttural. It’s incredibly rich, and smoothly seductive. In my opinion, she turns this into a wistful, resigned torch song. It’s wonderful.