Songs We Love: Orgone, ‘I Sold My Heart To The Junkman (Feat. Cyril Neville)’
By Rachel Horn
There’s nothing like a well-executed cover song to draw wallflowers onto the dance floor — just ask your local bar band. When the power of a fresh, confident re-arrangement fuses with that joyous spark of recognition, it can be enough to get even the shyest reveler’s hips moving. That principle plays right into the mission statement of Los Angeles retro-funk outfit Orgone. As founding guitarist Sergio Rios has explained of his band’s raison d’etre, “Sometimes it takes a nudge to let go and get on the dance floor. And sometimes it takes a big ol’ push … a love shove, if you will.”
In that sense, Orgone’s new single is a love shove of the highest order — a cover that works not only because of its irresistible groove, but because it’s so gleefully unexpected. “I Sold My Heart To The Junkman” started its life as a 1940s jazz tune, performed as a lugubrious big-band number by Etta Jones and, later, as a robust tenor-sax ballad by Gene Ammons. In ’62, the song changed character entirely when it was released by the Philadelphia girl group The Blue Belles. That sugar-sweet record (the credit for which, incidentally, is likely owed to Chicago’s The Starlets) broke into the top 20 on the pop charts just as the quartet was being rechristened Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles.
More than half a century later, New Orleans funk icon and former Meter Cyril Neville takes lead vocal duties on Orgone’s version of “I Sold My Heart,” transforming the heartbreak ballad yet again. In this iteration, it’s a properly swampy, boogieable number driven by a heavy bass riff and saturated with layers of organ — the dirty kind of sound you’d expect to hear under the word “junkman.” The single comes out on vinyl next week via Colemine Records, which has been putting out old-school-sounding soul from its headquarters in (naturally) the suburbs of southwestern Ohio since 2007. Much like a cleverly chosen cover song, the record’s unlikely provenance somehow makes it all the more satisfying.
I Sold My Heart To The Junkman comes out April 21 via Colemine Records.