Tuesday, August 23, 2016

(Finder(’)s) (Keepers)

scan courtesy 45cat.com

I’ve been having myself a fine time digging into those newly circulating Garcia/Saunders shows from late 73.  The ‘new’ 11/5/73 has a stone-cold, stanky version of Finders Keepers that’s doing it for me, with some really outrageous keyboard from Merl.  Finders Keepers is a song that pretty much never fails me.

Finders Keepers is also probably the most misattributed song on official Garcia/Saunders releases.  Recent releases (the Keystone Companions set and GarciaLive #6 7/5/73) correctly give credit to General Johnson and Jeffrey Bowen, of the soul group the Chairmen of the Board, who released it in April of 1973 as a vocal tune with an instrumental version on the single’s b-side.  It was one of the group’s biggest hits and Garcia/Saunders recorded it that July, making it one of the rare tunes in their repertoire that was a more-or-less current hit single.  On all prior JG/MS releases, though, it’s credited either to Saunders & John Kahn (the original Live at Keystone album and on Pure Jerry 9/1/74), or just to Saunders (on his Keepers collection).  The song is called Finders Keepers (with a misplaced apostrophe on the single, though the name of the band also is misspelled), but on G/S releases the title was never quite settled upon: “Keepers”, or “Finders”, or “Keepers (Finders).”  It seems almost like a sly little joke about the incorrect songwriting credit, but it still seems like a questionably shady move (Saunders even named an album after it!).  The song also appears on several of Saunders’ albums from the 90’s-00’s, but I don’t know how it’s credited on those.   Deaddisc generously posits that perhaps the misattribution is because Saunders and/or Kahn rearranged the tune, but they didn’t.  Have a listen:



Merl did overdub a cool, soaring ARP synth part on the original Live at Keystone recording, so there's that -- but, as far as I know, he never tried recreating in performance.  He sure knew how to work the hell out of that clavinet though, as 11/5/73 and many other renditions show.  It turns out Merl was paying homage to one of the all-time greats: that’s Bernie Worrell (RIP) of Parliament/Funkadelic playing the clavinet part on the original.

And, just for fun, here’s the original vocal version, which is giving no trouble to the Soul Train gang:

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