11 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Striking when the iron was hot, Merry Clayton’s solo debut album arrived less than a year after her remarkable contribution as backing singer to the Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit “Gimme Shelter.” As the album title reveals, she takes the tune for a spin in her own vehicle, giving it the burning urgency of a Stax hit. Though her voice doesn’t break here with the same awesome timbre heard on the original recording, this version is easily more danceable. Clayton’s voice does break in all the right places on an opening cover of James Taylor’s “Country Road,” playing more soulfully than ol’ J.T. may have ever intended it to sound. She also turns the Paul Simon penned “Bridge Over Troubled Water” into a sunny ballad hoisted by grinding Hammond organ and gospel-tinged backing vocals that inject a healthy dose of Sunday-morning spirituality into the song. Bookending with Van Morrison’s “Glad Tidings” was ambitious because his version on Moondance is already plenty soulful, but Clayton’s uplifting version (along with some stellar musicianship) makes this one the album’s jewel.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Striking when the iron was hot, Merry Clayton’s solo debut album arrived less than a year after her remarkable contribution as backing singer to the Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit “Gimme Shelter.” As the album title reveals, she takes the tune for a spin in her own vehicle, giving it the burning urgency of a Stax hit. Though her voice doesn’t break here with the same awesome timbre heard on the original recording, this version is easily more danceable. Clayton’s voice does break in all the right places on an opening cover of James Taylor’s “Country Road,” playing more soulfully than ol’ J.T. may have ever intended it to sound. She also turns the Paul Simon penned “Bridge Over Troubled Water” into a sunny ballad hoisted by grinding Hammond organ and gospel-tinged backing vocals that inject a healthy dose of Sunday-morning spirituality into the song. Bookending with Van Morrison’s “Glad Tidings” was ambitious because his version on Moondance is already plenty soulful, but Clayton’s uplifting version (along with some stellar musicianship) makes this one the album’s jewel.

TITLE TIME
3:46
2:57
5:49
3:29
3:31
3:05
2:55
3:18
4:22
2:44
2:41

About Merry Clayton

Best known for her background vocal work on the Rolling Stones' legendary single "Gimme Shelter," Merry Clayton had a long and successful career as backup singer, solo artist, and actress. Born December 25, 1948 (hence the rather "holiday" feel of her first name), in New Orleans, LA, Clayton recorded tracks with Elvis Presley, the Supremes, Ray Charles, and Joe Cocker, as well as being a member of Ray Charles' Raelettes in the early '60s. Her solo debut, "The Doorbell Rings," was released in 1963, and she eventually found success as a session singer for the aforementioned artists. She followed up her best-known work -- the appearance on "Gimme Shelter" -- with a solo album of the same name, and during the '70s managed some minor R&B hits with tracks like "After All This Time" in 1971 and "Oh No Not My Baby" in 1973. After a brief hiatus from the music business, Clayton did minor acting work, appearing in the film Maid to Order and Cagney & Lacey. Clayton returned to the music side of things in 1994, albeit as a gospel singer, with the album Miracles. In 1996, Clayton performed with Marianne Faithfull and Darlene Love in the show 20th Century Pop, a performance of "20 rock-era standards." ~ Christopher True

  • ORIGIN
    New Orleans, LA
  • GENRE
    R&B/Soul
  • BORN
    December 25, 1948

Songs

Albums

Listeners Also Played