“I take what I want,” sang Sam & Dave boldly on their second Stax single, released in 1965. “I’m a bad go-getter, yeah.” What they wanted was a hit, but the world wasn’t quite ready for them yet, even with a great number written by the mighty team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter with Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges, later a key ingredient in Al Green’s success at Hi Records.
Sam & Dave’s next single, ‘Hold On I’m Comin’,’ was the one that put them in the R&B top ten for the first time, and set them off on their run of outstanding Stax singles that lasted into 1968. Meanwhile, another male soul duo was coming up fast, who would take that earlier song and make some headway with their own version.
James & Bobby Purify had made the scene in the latter part of 1966 with the classic ‘I’m Your Puppet,’ written by yet another powerful duo in R&B circles at the time, the writers Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. After that top ten soul and pop success, they had more modest, top 30 R&B success with ‘Wish You Didn’t Have To Go,’ then made the top 20 with ‘Shake A Tail Feather.’
‘I Take What I Want’ had been picked up as a cover across the Atlantic, soon after the Sam & Dave original, by such groups as the Hollies and the Artwoods, featuring Ron Wood’s brother, Art. Then the Purifys recorded the track as their next release for Bell Records, entering the R&B chart on 5 August 1967. It reached No. 23, and No. 41 pop.
Another year on, Aretha Franklin gave the song her seal of approval, including it on the Aretha Now album; it went on to attract covers in the 1970s by Ann Peebles and Rory Gallagher. Here are the Sam & Dave and James & Bobby Purify versions — let us know which you prefer!
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