Saturday, May 26, 2007

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

I always wonder about singers who allow notably better singers to appear on records with them. I suppose it's one thing when Steve Winwood, who is considered a top-notch vocalist by many people, gets Chaka Khan to come in at the end of "Higher Love, but Chaka really cleans Stevie's clock on that one. Or when Usher tacked a Ludacris rap onto the end of "Yeah"; everybody I knew would just listen to that song waiting for Ludacris to get rolling.

But what was Eddie Murphy thinking when, at the conclusion of his wan hit "Party All the Time," he lets his producer, the one and only Rick James, come in and show everyone what a real singer sounds like? If you were wondering whether Eddie could hold his own, Rick James puts any doubts to rest.

Reversing the sequence, some thin-voiced singer from the now-forgotten Primitive Radio Gods used a B.B. King sample from "How Blue Can You Get?" on their sole hit, "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand" (and shouldn't that have been "With a Quarter in My Hand"?), and for a while King's powerhouse blues vocal contrasted nicely with the PRG singer's introspective rap. But at the end of the song, the PRG guy tries to imitate B.B.'s "Been downhearted, babe," and just sounds silly.

Primitive Radio Gods' latest album, 2006's Sweet Venus, was released only as an MP3. Let this be a lesson to you, kids: Don't try to show up B.B. King.

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