Most people will know ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ from the sweet soul version recorded by The Supremes. Children of the 80s might have been introduced to it via Kim Wilde’s Stock Aitken & Waterman-esque version of it. But some of you who were around in the late 60s in South Africa may have first been hit by The Flames version of the song. I say ‘been hit’ by it because theirs is a sledgehammer version, with a psychodelicly surreal intro that thunders at you for nearly 3 minutes before the ethereal vocals come floating in over the dense sound.
There is a certain Freedom’s Children feel to this track by arguably one of the best soul bands to come out of the country. Its less soulful than some of their other offerings but it almost feels like the building is crashing down around you as you keep hanging on to this intriguing barrage of sound that pummels your senses. The dense instrumentation is perfectly complimented by an almost dismissive echo-ey vocal that says to the person involved that while you keep me hanging on, I have grown weary of you, you are dismissed.
The Flames were more than capable of producing some quite brilliant pure soul, just listen to their verisons of ‘Knock On Wood’, ‘Land Of A 1000 Dances’ and their big hit, ‘For Your Precious Love’, but occasionally they would lean to the rockier side of life. Their cover of Jimi Hendix’s ‘Purple Haze’ is an example of that, but I have yet to come across a track when they immersed themselves so completely in psychedelic rock in the way the do on ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’. This may not have been a favourite for many fans of their soulful side, but if nothing else, it would have won then great kudos with the rock fraternity.
Where to find it
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148