I’ve always loved the Stones version of “Harlem Shuffle” (and the video above, particularly the fine female dancing with Mick – rarrrr – feel like I’m 16 again). Silly thing is, I don’t think I had heard another version of it until recently (courtesy again of Sirius). It turned out to be the original version too, performed by Bob & Earl. The twosome, Bob Relf and Earl Nelson, wrote and recorded the song in 1963. It was later performed by the Righteous Brothers, Johnny & Edgar Winter, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and of course the Stones on 1986’s Dirty Work.
So check out the original version. It’s interesting to note the similarities between the original and the Stones versions. You’ll notice Mick Jagger borrowed a lot of the same tones, groans, and moans from the Bob & Earl version.
Bob & Earl: Harlem Shuffle (mp3) – I got mine on iTunes from this compilation called Sweet Soul Music.
I’ve still a looong way to go with my Booker T. & the M.G.’s education. As one of the tightest rhythm sections you could shake stick at, they were the Stax label’s house band for many years back in the 60’s. This 2003 release took a look at some of their unreleased sessions between 1965 and 1968. One of them is their own take on “Harlem Shuffle”.