“Get Back” – Clarence Reid

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A terrific Beatles cover by Clarence Reid. Reid had the talent and chops to be as big as Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett, but he became more popular doing dirty parodies of soul hits (“S–ting off the Dock of the Bay,” “What a Difference a Lay Makes?”) with his XXX-rated alter-ego Blowfly. As much as the 3rd grader in me loves Blowfly, I’ve been rediscovering Reid’s straight soul recordings as of late and have been completely knocked out by how good Reid was … and also a little sad that Reid found more success with a gimmick than playing it straight.

It reminds me of seeing another Clarence … Clarence Giddens … back in 1993 at a restaurant / bar in Virginia Beach. Giddens was a terrific blues guitarist and singer that opened for a singer known as “Black Elvis.” Of course, “Black Elvis” was Giddens in an Elvis suit and I have to say as an Elvis impersonator, he was damn good. But it also filled me with regret because Giddens had the chops to be a major blues talent, but found bigger paychecks going down the Elvis tribute trail. Granted both Reid and Giddens had their reasons for going down the more lucrative path as Blowfly and Black Elvis, but it’s a sad commentary about how we … as audiences … myself included … are more suckers for a gimmick than the real deal.

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“Nobody But You Babe” – Clarence Reid

Most people these days know Clarence Reid by his XXX-rated alter ego Blowfly.  If you don’t know Blowfly, you should really check out the superb documentary “The Weird World of Blowfly” (available on Netflix instant).  While Blowfly’s XXX-rated parodies of popular songs  (“S–tting Off the Dock of the Bay”) make me laugh, it’s sad that more people these days don’t know what a solid R&B singer Reid was back in the day (and still is for that matter!).  In my opinion, he was the equal of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding.  “Nobody But You Babe” is from Reid’s terrific 1969 Atco label album “Dancin’ With Nobody But You Babe.”  Reid also wrote Betty Wright’s hit “Clean Up Woman” as well as some KC and the Sunshine Band’s early hits.  Reid is also the father of WNBA player Tracy Reid.   Definitely an artist worthy of further investigation.

“The Weird World of Blowfly” dir. Jonathan Furmanski

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One of the best (and saddest) documentaries I’ve seen in the past year is Jonathan Furmanski’s documentary on XXX-rated soul singer / rapper Blowfly. Blowfly is the alter ego of legendary R&B singer-songwriter Clarence Reid, who achieved greater success (and notoriety) doing XXX-rated parodies of popular soul/R&B tunes in the persona of Blowfly. A really terrific portrayal of a complex and talented artist.