Song: "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
Writer: Joe Zawinul
Original Release: 1966
Original Performer: Cannonball Adderley
Album: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at "The Club"
This is one of many songs I didn't know was a cover until relatively recently. I knew both the Buckinghams' song and the jazz arrangement as I played the latter myself in high school jazz band. However, I was completely wrong about which came first.
Songwriter Joe Zawinul, an Austrian keyboardist who would later go on to become one of the lead figures in jazz fusion, joined Cannonball Adderley's quintet in 1961. He played both piano and electric piano on the original recording. Rounding out the combo were Nat Adderley (cornet; Cannonball's younger brother), Victor Gaskin (bass) and Roy McCurdy (drums).
"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was a major crossover hit for Adderley, rising to #2 on the soul chart and #11 on the pop chart. Two different sets of lyrics were written for the song. Curtis Mayfield wrote one set for The Mauds, who released the song in 1967. The words The Buckinghams used are credited to Johnny Watson who made his own recording of the song with Larry Williams, released in February 1967. The Buckingham record came out a month later. Their version charted best, rising to #5.
The Mauds' version, performed by Blue Road:
Larry Williams and Johnny "Guitar" Watson:
Finally, The Buckinghams:
Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?
Enjoy: A Window Above
What are you listening to these days?