Song Of The Day 6/16/2013: Clout - "Substitute"

Not to be confused with the song by The Who, this "Substitute" was written by Willie H. Wilson and covered by a whole bunch of people. The Righteous Brothers handled it first, in a version that's a little awkward. It's unsettling to hear Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield reduce themselves to co-dependent stand-ins over an echo-laden backdrop that echoes "You're My Soul and Inspiration." Blue-eyed pathos. Gloria Gaynor also covered it on Love Tracks, the same album "I Will Survive" appeared on. Again, cognitive dissonance: On the very same side as the consummate independence anthem, she's turning right around and offering herself up as a doormat. Although she's a lot peppier about it than the Righteous Brothers.

The best and most popular version of "Substitute" came from the South African all-female band Clout, who took their Europop rendition to #1 on almost all the important European charts in 1978 except the U.K., where it hit #2. (It petered out at #67 in America.) I can't explain why, but in Clout's rendition the singer, Cindy Alter, sounds like she's approaching her proposal as something she actually wants to do, not something she resigns herself to. Not that it makes it any healthier, long-term, but it was the '70s. You couldn't hear a lot of those internal moral arguments back then. The bass was too loud.

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