Fever – Otis Waygood Blues Band
There was an Otis involved in the original ‘Fever’ and an Otis in the version that is the subject of this entry. The song, originally recorded by Little Willie John, was written by Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley back in 1956 and has been covered by numerous acts over the years with possibly the most famous being Peggy Lee’s 1958 version which made it to 8 on the US charts (although the McCoy’s (of ‘Hang On Sloopy’ fame) 1965 cover peaked 2 places higher at 6). The original by Little Willie John got to 27.
But it is the version by Otis as in Otis Waygood Blues Band (which didn’t have anyone called Otis in it) with which we are concerned here. There a sort of cartoon soundtrack quality to this version. One can almost imagine Tom of ‘Tom & Jerry’ fame walking along, full of confidence which all goes well as the music with a swaying rhythm has all that self assuredness and strut that the walk would have. But then, as often happens with Tom, he trips or stubs his toe or has some other mishap just as Rob Zipper injects a sudden cry of ‘Fever!’.
Now some might say that comparing an Otis Waygood song to a cartoon is a bit sacrilegious, and maybe it is. But the point is that cartoon soundtracks were brilliant at describing the mood and action of what was happening on screen and, with this cover, Otis Waygood capture a mood and feeling that has a funky strut interlaced with the surprising screech of ‘Fever!’ every now and then which conjures up images in the mind in the same way those soundtracks did. And there is something feline in this sound. It is slinky, sexy, aloof, confident and alluring. It seduces you into a world of dimly lit back alleys and smokey underground dives where, no matter what, you are the centre of attention.
It is a little bit of a steal classing this as a South African song as the band hailed from what was then Rhodesia. But listening to ‘Fever’ has given me enough of a confident strut to include it in a list of South African songs.
Where to find it:
Otis Waygood Blues Band – Otis Waygood Blues Band (2001), Retro Fresh, Fresh CD109