Mr Moore and Mr Prater dropped their last names and were big soul stars as Sam & Dave between 1961 and 1981. That kind of music has been pretty far off the charts for a lot of years, although they got some help from the Blues Brothers. They’ve got two or three performances that belong in this series. I think that I Thank You was the first ever soul song that penetrated my consciousness, and is maybe still my favorite.
It feels somehow wrong to write about Sam & Dave recordings, because their live performances were essential. They were seriously cool dancers and had the best horn-section orchestration I ever saw. And the two-part approach to singing was unique.
I Thank You first appeared on an LP of the same name which is really excellent and I recommend, although I lost it somewhere along the way. If you’re into music collections, there’s another really excellent way to buy this song, namely as part of the Complete Stax/Volt Singles, which assembles about as much straight-from-the-heart rootsy music in one package as anyone has ever accomplished. You’ll recognize a lot of the tunes on here without having known that you’d known them.
On the Stax/Volt set, there’s this sequence: Cold Feet, a fine old-fashioned electric-blues snarl from Albert King, I Thank You, Wrap It Up (my second-favorite Sam & Dave song), and (Sittin’ on) The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding. Has any recording put a better four-song sequence together, ever?
Back to the song, which has a lovely vocal sound and a message we should all be getting behind all the time: Nobody has to do nice things for you or love you, and when they do, you should thank them. There’s nothing more basic to being a good person. Also it’s got a hell of a beat and outstanding horn arrangements.