Song Stories


EMF | 1991

While many hip-hop acts were sampling musical icons like James Brown, this British dance act sampled an unlikely source in this club rouser: comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay. While video viewers heard Clay's trademark "Oh!", Clay's face couldn't be seen, since the salty-tongued comic had been banned from MTV for life. (Years later, the network lifted the ban.) While EMF had a few other dance hits, "Unbelievable" was forged with the band's identity, due to its rapid success. "Sometimes I wish we could've done it a little more gradually," guitarist Ian Dench said.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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