The First Edition/ Sharon Jones – Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In

First Edition

First Edition Condition

The First Edition – I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In from the Reprise 45

Happy 4th of July all. I hope you all got your fill of Soul in my last post. I have part two in the works, but first I have to do a mix for the good people at Vault Magazine . I’m looking forward to doing that mix, and have also done an interview which will be running in the upcoming months.

When I first heard this song, it was actually the version done by Miss Sharon Jones, which coincidentally, if you scroll down, you can hear. I had no idea of who had done the original (nor did I care) at the time, and I grooved to the cover version over and over. Fast forward to this past year. I’m out in the field and I come across this record. There is no way I could pass it up. When I found out the history of the band, it made it all that sweeter. A big thanks to the great folks at Daptone , who were so kind to hook me up with the Sharon Jones version this past week. That’s right people, both versions of the song in this post. So here we have “I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In” by The First Edition on Reprise Records in 1968, and then an updated version by Sharon Jones on Daptone more recently.

The First Edition stemmed from the New Christy Minstrels and included a man who went on to be the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers. Yes that’s correct folks, the Country legend Kenny Rogers was an integral part of this psychedelic (to label it lightly, psychedelic was their intention) sounding record. Their previous record only brought about some minor attention, but this record was the one people took notice of. Comprised of Rogers, Thelma Camacho ( later replaced by Mary Arnold), Mike Settle, Terry Williams, and Mickey Jones the First Edition put out a few singles. They were known primarily for “Ruby”, this song, and other than “Burning Sensation” in 1970, the FE had their share of songs that weren’t hits. “I Just Dropped In”, IMHO, after I found out it was Kenny Rogers singing it, made me giggle a little, but the song grew on me. The chorus of “Yeah, Yeah, Oh Yeeeeeeeah….”, kept getting stuck in my head. The guitar intro was Glen Campbell ( apparently playing the guitar backwards), and the psychedelic sound they’re going for (sounds provided by one Mike Deasy) is almost laughable, but like I said, it grows on you. Had I not known who Kenny Rogers was, I probably would have thought: “Well, it’s just another so-so psyche record” and just passed on by. To know that Rogers had a hand in it, growing his hair long and being a major hippie after this record was done, peaked my interest to give it another listen. I mean everyone has a history, and this single being pre-Gambler Country or sappy Western duo stuff, makes it sweeter. It’s nice to know Kenny was down with the pyschedelics if you know what I mean. Eventually the First Edition split up and Kenny Rogers went solo, rocking the Country and Western scene along with opening up a string of franchise fried chicken joints.

Sharon
Photo Courtesy of Daptone Records

Sharon Jones Condition

Sharon Jones – I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In from the Daptone 45

Now let’s get on to the Sharon Jones cover. I will not go into a background history of Sharon Jones, but for those who want a little info on her you can go here. For those who do not know who she is (and I’m hoping many of you do know), she’s the closest thing we have to a true Funk Diva and or Soul Sister No. 1 in the modern sense. In other words, this talented singer sings it like they used to, but in modern times. Along with the Dap Kings, she single handedly pioneered the retro Funk sound. I’ve been hooked since her work with Desco Records, and as the Soul Strut massive have been known to say, I’d “ride for her” any day. She changed the title a bit (adding the I and chnging the was to is), but these are minor things. From the opening horn stabs, this Funk cover blows away the original by more than a country mile. Sharon’s voice echoes the days when bands producing sounds like hers worked hard on the Chitlin’ Circuit, playing juke joints and small clubs to crowds that lived and breathed the lyrics of each song on a daily basis. A place where people could go and forget about the everyday struggle and be absorbed by heartfelt Funk and Soul bands who traveled the country and sang like it was their last show every night on stage. It’s as upbeat as you can get (much more upbeat that the original), and doesn’t stop to take a breath or even let you breath the entire time. Missing are the psychedelic sounds, replaced by a horn and rhythm section that are both tight and outta sight. I have to say I’m ok with that. I am always open to other kinds of music, but I think this is clearly a case of the cover being better than the original. It just so happens to be done in a funky style, and think that Jones and Company do the song a hell of a justice. There is not much that they touch that isn’t good, and if you don’t own anything by them, I urge you to hit up one of these Daptone links and get yourself some Funk that sounds like it was made in 1969 or 1970. No I also want to throw in that Soul Brutha Dave B pointed me in the direction of the Betty LaVette version, and my man Mike from This Is Tomorrow hooked me up with an mp3 to listen to. They are both right, it does seem like the blueprints were laid down by LaVette, and carried on home by Miss Jones. Thank you guys so much for the input.

That being said, I have yet to really plug the Asbury Park 45 Sessions this Friday July 6th at the Asbury Lanes. We have the usual residents plus two guests: Cool Hands Luke and Devil Dick . It’s going to be a great time.

Come on down and make sure you introduce yourself! Keep Diggin’!

July 2007 45 Sessions

**Here’s a Bonus Video, because a psychedelic bed is bad ass:

17 responses to “The First Edition/ Sharon Jones – Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In

  1. Hey,
    I just saw Big Lebowski again recently and Kenny and the rest appear on the SDTRK.
    Didn’t realize that Gamblerman was the lead vocalist, but listening here, its pretty obvious that it is him.

    I definitely like the kind of faux psych guitar skronk. Great tone Glen.
    Cool post.
    -rb
    cratedig.blogspot.com

  2. Oh yeeeeeeahhhhhh! Great song, both versions. I do indeed possess the bulk of Ms. Jones’ catalogue with the exception of that ever elusive Desco comp Spike’s Choice Vol. 2. Can anyone pleeeeeeease point me in the direction of a copy?

  3. i have a few early desco releases, but not that one. for some reason when i owned a business, we were on the mailing list for desco and memphix, and got some great records. to this day i do not know how. the best was when the black chains and exhaust cd came in the mail. i was like: wtf is this. then i put it on……unbelievable. let me know if you get a line on the early desco stuff, i am interested as well.

  4. Nice!! Always knew this one from The Big Lebowski as well. Sharon’s version is ACE! PJ’s GalacticFractures.com compilation has got a super smokin’ take on it from Bettye LaVette that is definitely the blueprint for Sharon’s version. Be sure and check that one if you have yet to hear it.

    Peace and SOUL,
    Dave…

  5. I like to direct folks over to PJ’s site to purchase the mix CD’s to help support his radio show. At only $8 each, they are well worth it and have been in HEAVY rotation since I got’em! However, it’s actually in one of the previous shows available for d/l at his site. Here’s the link.

    http://www.galacticfractures.com/?p=55

    Show Date 1/12/02 (Song Titled: Bettye LaVette-Just Dropped In)

    In the intro before the song, PJ seems to infer that Bettye’s was the original and it was later covered by The First Edition.

  6. i just got outbid on roger collins – foxy girl in oakland on galaxy. i’ve been searching for years for that one in the field, finally giving up and got to e bay. it went for 78 bucks, a little too much for me at the moment.

  7. I don’t know how you feel about mp3s as opposed to hard copies of 45s, but I have that Rodger Collins (“Foxy Girls In Oakland” b/w “She’s Looking Good”). Want a copy?

  8. i do have the mp3 vince, thank you for offering. i’ve been trying to get my damn hands on that 45 for sometime. the evils and joys of e bay….

  9. i have always dug the first edition tratment of i just dropped in. the guitar break is killer. find mickey newburys lp on rca “harlequin”. he wrote the somg and the original is on here. i have both of the old desco comps if you want a copy-just offer a trade of a cd-r-no problem

  10. As others have said, thanks for that Sharon Jones version, which I’d never heard. Speaking of the ‘history’ of the members of the First Edition, drummer Mickey Jones is the guy who replaced Levon Helms in the Hawks for Bob Dylan’s famous 1966 tour of Europe. He plays on the much bootlegged, now legitimately released Albert Hall/Manchester Free Trade Hall concert recording.

  11. Infectious. I have been thinking about this song almost all day. Nice post and love the video too.

  12. Really looking forward to hearing this – but the link to zshare does nothing – there is nothing to listen to or download…. In fact all the zshare links have the same problem. I use a mac, but have also tried on a PC. No joy on any of them. Any help greatly appreciated… Thanks.

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