That ’70s song, Vol. 22

When Rare Earth’s “Get Ready” cracked the Top 10 in the first week of June 1970, it was the first time I’d heard the band.

(It also was the first time I’d heard the song. I had no idea it was a cover of a Smokey Robinson tune done first by the Temptations in 1966.)

But it wasn’t the first time anyone in Detroit had heard the band. It had been gigging around town since 1961, known first as the Sunliners, then as Rare Earth after signing with Motown Records in 1968.

One of the first songs they played as Rare Earth was “Get Ready,” doing so at gigs for a couple of years before recording it in 1969. It started out as a traditional cover, then evolved into a solo-packed, show-closing jam that ran 21 minutes. That — and not the traditional 3-minute cover — is what Rare Earth wanted to put to vinyl. They did just that. “Get Ready” is Side 2 of the 1969 album of the same name.

Motown sought to have the best of both worlds. It cut “Get Ready” back down to a radio-friendly 2:48 and released it in February 1970. “Get Ready” broke first on black radio stations in Washington, D.C., then made its way across America and into the mainstream. It was a smash, reaching No. 4 on the charts and far outperforming the Tempts’ version, which made it only into the Top 30.

So, having said all that … did they play “Rare Earth In Concert” at some of the parties you went to during the ’70s? That’s why I bought it long ago. I’d heard it so often. I bought it especially for the 14-minute version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and for …

“Get Ready,” Rare Earth, from “Rare Earth In Concert,” 1971. It’s out of print.

This is the way Rare Earth wanted it heard, at 23 minutes plus.  (It’s been a while since I opened the top of that backpack, but my old vinyl still sounds pretty good.)

(There are some doubts about whether this actually was recorded live — some think the crowd noise was dubbed in — but it’s good enough for me. Hey, even Kiss’ “Alive!” wasn’t completely live.)

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3 Comments

Filed under June 2010, Sounds

3 responses to “That ’70s song, Vol. 22

  1. Shark

    I was all of 11 years old when I first heard “Get Ready” by Rare Earth on WLS and WCFL in Chicago. At that time, I thought for sure Rare Earth was a group of black musicians. They had “that sound”…the vocals of a James Brown and the rhythm of an Eddie Kendricks.

  2. That’s a great song! And I daresay one of the few ocassions where the cover surpasses the original!

    As for “live” albums that aren’t really live, one of the worst offenders I’ve ever heard was Chicago XXVI. It was recorded live @ Navy Pier in 1999 but there was so much toying and fiddling with the sound in the studio after the concert (parts even re-recorded in the studio) that it came out sounding more like a studio album with canned applause.

  3. Mark

    What a great memory! I also have that disc, along with the Ecology release. Heck, I also have Ecology on a factory 7 1/2″ reel-to-reel tape, with the album artwork on the box. It’s like this: http://cgi.ebay.com/REEL-REEL-4track-RARE-EARTH-ECOLOGY-/280518170233.

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