One Song/Three Versions – (I Know) I’m Losing You

Your love is fading, I can feel your love fading
Girl, it’s fading away from me
Cause your touch, your touch has grown cold
As if someone else controls your very soul
I’ve fooled myself long as I can
Can feel the presence of another man

As I wrote in my series on Motown, the Temptations, along with the Supremes were one of the leading bands of that scene back in the ’60s. By the time they released their fifth album, 1967’s The Temptations With a Lot ‘o Soul, they’d already released 20 singles, eight of which had reached the Top Ten in the US R&B charts.

The band’s lineup consisted of the “classic 5” –  David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams. The song was written not by the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland but by their guitarist Cornelius Grant, songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland, Jr. (Amazingly given the music industry’s penchant for chewing people up and spitting them out, Eddie and his fellow songwriters – Lamont Dozier and brother Brian Holland – are still around as of this writing.)

Per the wiki Pop Culture Fandom: This song was another step away from the group’s softer records recorded with Smokey Robinson as producer, “I’m Losing You” features a much more dramatic arrangement than most contemporary Motown songs: a rock-styled guitar riff, sharp horn blasts, and the Temptations’ doo-wop vocals, which paint the backdrop for one of David Ruffin‘s* trademark raspy lead vocals.

Released in November 1966, the song was their ninth Billboard R&B #1 hit:

Spotify link

As anybody who has ever read about Rod Stewart knows, he is not only a blues fan but arguably an even bigger fan of American soul and R&B. An avowed disciple of Sam Cooke, of David Ruffin he once told Rolling Stone that his voice “jumped out of the speakers and ravished my soul. His voice was so powerful – like a foghorn on the Queen Mary,” 

So it’s not entirely a surprise that he covered “Losing You” for his 1971 breakthrough solo album Every Picture Tells a Story. While “Mandolin Wind,” and “Maggie May” are both also on this album, for me the best things about this album are the title song and Rod’s rocked-up version of the Tempts’ tune.

Along with Rod the Mod, personnel on this tune is essentially the Faces – the indispensable Ronnie Wood on guitar, Ronnie Lane on bass guitar and backing vocals, Ian McLagan on piano and Kenney Jones on drums.

Love the humming that comes along in this tune partway through. And for me, the highlight of this tune is Kenney’s balls-out drum solo that comes along about 2/3 of the way. Jones, of course, was The Who’s first choice as replacement (as if that’s even possible) for Keith Moon on his death in 1978,

“Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.”

Spotify link

The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been one of my favorite blues bands since roughly the dawn of time. It is the Texas-based band that Jimmie Vaughan sprung from and whose live show I chronicled on these pages a couple of years ago.

The only person who has been with the band since Year One (1974) is vocalist/harmonica player, the truly fabulous Kim Wilson. (A great showman as well – see ’em live.) The most recent album of theirs I’m aware of is the less bluesy/more soulful 2016 opus Strong Like That. Blues Blast magazine informs that, “although credited to the T’Birds this is essentially a Kim Wilson solo album.

Blues Blast continues: “Nothing says soul louder than The Temptations and Kim’s slowed down version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” works really well with Roosevelt Collier’s slippery lap-steel and Kim’s harp playing round the core tune with Wes Watkins’ interesting drum work driving things along in a subtly funky way.”

To say the least. If this isn’t the funkiest fucking thing you’ve heard in a while, man I don’t know what will get you. Wait till that horn blows.

Spotify link

There’s some other good shit on that album too. Check it out.

*Ruffin was later fired by the band for his cocaine problems and showing up late for gigs. He had some really good solo stuff if you get a chance to listen.

Bonus: If you don’t know South Florida’s Roosevelt Collier, you should. Check out some of his live set at Ronnie Scott’s in London:

19 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – (I Know) I’m Losing You

  1. Great choice – love that tune!

    To begin with, The Temptations are one of my favorite Motown bands, and a lot of it has to do with their multi-part harmony vocals. That being said, this tune is more about the music.

    I think the cover versions you highlighted are neat as well. Once again, and I know we’ve had this discussion before, Rod Stewart’s take shows what a great vocalist he is. And what terrific music he used to record!

    I also dig what I’ve heard from the Fabulous T-birds including this cover. Musically speaking, I think it’s my favorite of the three takes. Wilson’s harmonica and Johnny Moeller’s guitar work are cooking.

    Looks like the T-birds are currently touring – man, I would like to see these guys! Unfortunately, I can’t make Sep 20 when they will play in Riverhead, N.Y., the closest they get to my house. They are also coming to Fall River, Mass. on Sep 19…😀

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    1. Rod’s has been my hands-down favorite for a long time. But the T-Birds one really got me going. That’s Roosevelt Collier on slide BTW. Don’t worry about missing them I think. Kim Wilson appears to be in good health and they come around pretty frequently.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. B.B. King would have been nice, though I’m not sure about that venue’s. I know they had to move from their previous location. I saw one of the last shows there, Buddy Guy, who I believe also the final gig the venue hosted in that location.

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        2. Yeah, it’s a departure. They are really and truly a blues band. But their hits never lost that edge and were really good. You should check out my older post on them to hear some more good stuff. Same year that that album came out BTW.

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        3. Yeah, that tune has a great groove. In addition to the bass line, I dig the funky guitar and the horns, which give it a nice soul feel.

          I definitely need to check out these guys more closely. I primarily know them from Tuff Enough and Wrap It Up.

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        4. Great tunes but not really representative of their bluesy stuff. If you have Spotify, check out any of their first half-dozen or so albums. They’ve never not been good but those all have Jimmie Vaughan.

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        5. Thanks. Based on sampling their first three album, I agree they surely sounded, well, fabulous!😆

          It’s a pity, though perhaps not surprising, their early albums didn’t sell well. I understand that was precisely the reason that starting with their 1986 album “Tuff Enuff,” they decided to adopt a more mainstream sound. And once they did, boom, they had a top 10 hit!

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        6. Yeah, blues as you know is very much of a niche genre. The only times I can remember it having popularity in any kind of mainstream way was the late ’60’s/early ’70’s and then somewhat in the ’80’s thanks to the SRV-driven resurgence. Every once in a while a T-birds or “Thrill is Gone” comes along and hits big, but largely blues is -to quote B.B. – way back down in the alley.

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      1. I know I just listened to it after reading your post. I’ve just segued into more RE and now i’m into Abraxas. How’s that for some good listening? Thanks Doc.
        Ihad a buddy who was a rare earth nutbar. We listened to the’RA Live’ album constantly. Like Delbert I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on the T-Birds. Great band.

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