When I was music director and keyboardist for the Pointer Sisters in 1976, “Yes We Can Can” was one of the nightly show-stoppers. This is the Pointer Sisters early years – swinging the blues and bouncing the funk. “Yes We Can Can” was their first hit back in 1973 advancing to number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100.
When I started thinking about a follow-up single to Selena and band’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” I came across the original version of Allan Toussaint‘s classic by Lee Dorsey released in 1970 by Polydor. I was struck by the message of unity and togetherness and the roots New Orleans rhythm and the timely nature and overall vibe and thought what a perfect feature for Gavin Hope.
Much of what was on the original reappears here in adaptation, a bit of embellishment and arranging tweaks. It’s another Rhythm Express track paying homage to the great rhythm & blues tradition of years gone by. This was a rhythm section workout. Drummer Everton “Pablo” Paul, bassist Jesse “Dubmatix” King, guitarist Shane “Shakey J” Forrest and I meet every Wednesday night and record a track. Most are first or second takes. Shane also engineers. It’s a warm and cozy setting in Paul’s basement studio Side Door – the kind of comfort rarely found in larger studio environs.
The funk was easy to come by with all four of us deeply committed and fans of the back history. From my perspective, what brings authority to this track is Shane’s guitar work – from those chicken pickin’ underpinnings, a bit of slide to rhythmic chops. The horns featuring Chris Butcher trombone, Bobby Hsu tenor sax and Alexis Baro trumpet add that call and response pop.
Gavin gets the right amount of soul and bounce in his lyrical delivery while Selena Evangeline doubles brilliantly on background vocals.
It’s April – and for certain “Yes We Can Can” month.
Composer: Allen Toussaint
Publishers: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC/Warner/Chappell Music, INC
Produced: Bill King, Shane Forrest and Everton Paul.
Lead Vocal: Gavin Hope
Background vocals: Gavin Hope and Selena Evangeline
Adapted, arranged and keyboards: Bill King
Engineer and guitar: Shane “Shakey J” Forrest
Drums and percussion: Everton “Pablo” Paul
Bass: Jesse “Dubmatix” King
Congas: Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco”
Cover Design: Jesse “Dubmatix” King
Trombone: Christopher Butcher
Tenor Sax: Bobby Hsu
Trumpet: Alexis Baro
Recorded at Side Door Studio