Classics: William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got (New Version) (EMI)
I can’t help thinking back of Barry White‘s words as a part of the conversations we had. He said to me: “Take a good song and rebuild it cleverly, then chances are great you’re gonna get a great rework!” This being pretty much what we have on what stood as the New Version of ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”.
Of course, there will always be the purists to consider nothing could beat the original. And God knows how it happened to be a timeless masterpiece. But what about its brilliant re-recording with mixing work courtesy of David Todd? The latter bringin’ it a classy and timeless groovier feel. I have to admit both of them do it in my humble opinion. Let’s see if you agree or prefer one rather the other. If not its memorable edit by the likes of Onur Engin…
WDC-native William DeVaughn shared his time as a drafting technician for the Government and an occasional singer. A guitarist, but also a songwriter, he first came up with ‘A Cadillac Don’t Come Easy’ which he ended up rewriting. Eventually retitling it ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’.
From then, he spent US$ 900 to record it at Philadelphia’s Omega Sound. Eventually recruiting the nucleus of MFSB. In other words, Earl Young (drums), Ron Baker (bass) and Norman Harris. But also Bobby Eli (guitar) and Vincent Montana, Jr. (vibraphone). Not to mention producer Allan Felder. Meanwhile John Davis came up with smooth arrangements and took time to refine it at Sigma Sound. Frank Fioravanti, its executive producer and co-ordinator, securing its release on Roxbury Records, a subsidiary of Chelsea Records in 1974.
The success happened to be immediate, with William DeVaughn selling close to 2 million copies of it.
It eventually got a new life 6 years later, although on a slightly reworked version to bring it a groovier feel. Turkish DJ/producer Onur Engin givin’ it a boiling hot edit back in 2010 on Square Records.
“Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ inspired countless artists. From rappers N.W.A. and Ice Cube who sampled it repsectively on ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ and ‘Stand Tall. To Massive Attack who covered it back in 1991. Then Omar and Erykah Badu 10 years after to name but a few…
Strangely enough, William DeVaughn only released 2 albums. With is latest, ‘Figures Can’t Calculate The Love I Have For You’. An opus which featured the new version of ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” back in 1980 on TEC Records. He ended up losing interest in the music industry, working in a record store then again back as a draftsman.