Sugar Man – Black Pumas

Any chance to get Black Pumas on the site is a welcome one. This one is a double whammy. I’ve talked about Rodriguez on here before. I’ve used his tale as an allegory when talking about Heartless Bastards (the band not some callous meanies) and I’m sure I’ve referenced his journey multiple times. Another parallel of his ‘nearly man comes good’ narrative seems to be shaping up in the wings of Black Pumas repeated cracks at getting a hit single out of Colors.

The original Rodriguez version is sublime.

If you haven’t seen Searching For Sugarman you should. If you have, you know how great his stuff is.

What’s it gonna take to make this a proper hit?

So the Panthers have released, re-released and re-re-re-released (gentle down the stream-ing service) Colors. Every time it gains a little more traction. Sometimes they add some impressive brass adornment like they’ve just have on the Spotify single. Sometimes it’s used in an advert to get it into folks subconscious and the original album is added to to bolster the promo. Sometimes they even change the American President to add some weight to the songs message. I’m not convinced the almost Oom-pah pumping brass replacing guitars is an improvement, but it’s definitely an interesting diversion.

What’s also nice about the Streaming Single is the addition of another classy cover. We liked Fast Car. We love Sugar Man. A song that sits right next to Waiting For My Man, Mr Tambourine Man, Mr Brownstone, Charlemagne In Sweatpants and all those other Hook Up Dude Joints from down the years. Not that I’ve had a lot to do with ‘Guys who can probably get something’ in that capacity but Song Writers seems to hold these sorts of chaps in high esteem. For some reason or another.

On the expanded double-disc-better-sleeve version of the OG album there were covers by bands as diverse as The Beatles, Death, Bobby Blue Bland and the already donded Tracy Chapman. Add Rodriguez to the mix and you’re starting to flesh out not only the taste of the band but the sweet spot they’re aiming for in £50 Man’s pocket. This band is laser guided and precision engineered for the kind of folk who ‘have to have it on vinyl’. Who want Funkadelic and The Stooges as well as that band they saw opening for Tori Amos last time she toured theaters. These people will buy three editions of an 18 month old album when they should be getting some Fantastic Negrito or LA Witch instead.

You know the type. *ahem* it’s me *ahem*

So how do they do? They’ve got the 60’s-ness a bit. There’s “a vibe”. The thing I was alluding to a couple of paras earlier about parallels with the original artist is this. The guys in Black Pumas are industry insiders. They’re super-connected. They know the managers, the influencers (real influencers not some Donk with an Instagram account). These guys are so in bed with “The Money” that they managed to get squeezed in for a best album Grammy in a year they didn’t release a new album. But don’t let that dull the shine. Black Pumas album is brilliant. Their songs ooze accomplished muso cool and a rock and roll soul mix that’s hard to come by in 2020 (or even 2021). Their covers weave a beguiling and seductive story. If you’re a vinyl nerd of a certain age.

3 thoughts on “Sugar Man – Black Pumas

  1. I like the Black Puma’s a fair bit (though I’m not really all that into the covers they’ve done – go figure). Also, Fantastic Negrito… Amen. That guy is fire… and Please Don’t Be Dead is outrageously good. One of my favourites of the last few years.

    Liked by 1 person

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