It was first recorded by James Carr whose voice, heavily laced both with melancholy and masculinity, was the perfect match for the tune. James Carr's version is hard to beat when it comes to powerful singing, polished horn and distinct piano parts. In my opinion, even Aretha's perfectionist and Percy Sledge's warm and soft delivery won't come close to the original version. (Although I love the Percy Sledge cover.) It surprised me therefore that I truly liked Sam Taylor Jr.'s version when I stumbled upon it. With its minimal instrumentation, crispy-clean background vocals and heart-warming organ part around the middle of the song. Of course, I had to post this gem.
If anyone knows where to find Sam Taylor's album The Tunnels of my Mind from which this track has been taken, please let me know.
Sam's version of Dark End of the Street had me fall in love with the old favorite all over again.
The song was written by Dan Penn and Chip Moman. Dan Penn's idols, Bobby Blue Bland and Sam Cooke, surely have influenced his compositions, and he wrote for such exquisite soul singers as Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge. As I mentioned, the song was first recorded by James Carr and became a Top Ten hit in 1967. By the time the two men met, Chip Moman was already an established session guitarist, working with Phil Spector. Both men arranged and produced the beautiful song, with Penn delivering the "church-like harmonies" according to allmusic.com.
Enough words now. You have to hear the music to judge. I'll post the original version by James Carr and Sam Taylor's cover of the song.
You can find this track on James's The Complete Goldwax Singles collection -- a CD I highly recommend.
I really, really would like for you to listen to Oscar Toney's cover, too. Just listen to the beautiful guitar and strings ...