Intense cover of the Stones penned track with gravely male vocals and Joe Cocker's backing singers
Year of Release: 1971
The back catalogue of Decca in the early seventies is perplexing to say the least. The label had lost their cash cow by that point (The Rolling Stones) and seemingly their sense of direction as well. They staggered forward like a corporate zombie, scoring the occasional middle-of-the-road hit almost by chance, then moving on taking whatever else happened to fall in their path.
Sometimes this approach worked, but worryingly frequently it didn't. Anyone heard of Ditch Cassidy, Country Jug, Farnborough Firework Factory, Music Room, Rivington Pike or Colin Pilditch? Bonus points offered if you've ever even seen a copy of any of these artist's singles - some of them are absurdly scarce, and no, I've absolutely no idea what most of them sound like (I did bid on the Farnborough Firework Factory 45 on eBay not long ago, but the winning bidder was too enthusiastic for my cautious self). The label was financially propped up by the handling of MCA's British arm and manufacturing and distribution of Jonathan King's initially extraordinarily successful UK Records, but in its own right was worryingly dizzy.
Albert Embankment always seemed to me to be yet another example of a one-single wonder on the label, as rare as it was mysterious. The A-side is a cover version of the label's old boy wonders The Stones, but is a distinctly empassioned version, ignoring Marianne Faithful's take and instead incorporating throat-shredding lead vocals and gospel styled backing vocals. Without wishing to accuse anyone involved in the recording of unoriginality, it was clearly put together by people who either admired Joe Cocker or noted his success with "A Little Help From My Friends", and tried applying the same technique to the Rolling Stones catalogue.
Sadly, my copy of it is quite scratched and I'm highly unlikely to come across another one soon (if ever). Nevertheless, it's not ruined and you can hear that the recording works well, putting a new spin on an old classic which will delight some listeners and leave others cold. It all depends on how tied you feel to the intentions of the original.