Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marlena Shaw: California Soul

Back in 2008, Levis utilized a cover version of a moderate hit for the Fifth Dimension to advertise their Dockers line. “California Soul” was written by husband and wife songwriting/production team of Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. While the song charted for the Fifth Dimension at #25 in 1968 and at #56 for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1970. Sandwiched between these two singles was the 1969 album cut by Marlena Shaw from her second album, “The Spice of Life.”

Released on Chess Records’ subsidiary Cadet, Shaw’s version of “California Soul” has been used in a number of different commercials around the world. It is also has been popular with a number of artists who have sampled Shaw’s version as part of recent recordings. Although the version was not a popular hit, it has become a cult favorite.

Dockers Commercial

Filmed in one of my favorite cities, the Dockers’ commercial features a number of the sights of the city by the bay. I had the opportunity to spend a week in SF in 2005 and was fortunate enough to see many of the tourist attractions and to meet a lot of nice folks and eat at some of the finest restaurants in the world.

The Fifth Dimension’s Version

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s Rendition

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