Chain of Fools

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"Chain of Fools"
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album Lady Soul
B-side "Prove It"
Released November 1967
Format 7" single
Genre Rhythm and blues, soul, Rock and Roll
Length 4:03 (Original unreleased recording)
2:47 (Released Version)
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Don Covay
Producer(s) Jerry Wexler
Certification Gold
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
(1967)
"Chain of Fools"
(1967)
"(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone"
(1968)

"Chain of Fools" is a song written by Don Covay. Aretha Franklin first released the song as a single in 1967 and subsequently it appeared on many of her albums. It reached number one on the U.S. R&B chart, staying there for four weeks, and went to number two on the pop chart in January 1968.[1] the Personnel on the original recording included Melvin Lastie on trumpet, Tony Studd on Bass Trombone, King Curtis and Charlie Chalmers on tenor sax, Spooner Oldham on piano, Truman Thomas on organ, Ted Sommer on vibes, Joe South and Jimmy Johnson on guitars, and Roger Hawkins on drums.

It won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and later a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, this song was ranked #249 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2] The trademark tremolo guitar licks at the introduction were played by Joe South.[3] - The song was edited for LP & 45 - the original long version appeared on the Quadrophonic hits LP in the 1970s and on the 1995 Rhino stereo CD - a scary guitar and vocal intro ! Drums by Roger Hawkins - Live recordings featured on the albums Aretha in Paris (1968) and VH1 Divas Live (1998, with Mariah Carey).

It is musically noteworthy in that it's composed completely in a minor mode (Aeolian), and is one of the few hit songs based on just one (minor) chord.

It is claimed by some that "Chain of Fools" is an unauthorized rewrite of the gospel song "Pains of Life" recorded by Rev E Fair & The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio (an obscure gospel group from Houston TX) but without evidence showing that the gospel song was recorded first, this can only be conjecture.

The song is featured in a 1986 episode of Valerie (later known as The Hogan Family).

Chart positions[edit]

Charts Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues 1

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1969, Finnish jazz singer Carola tried out rhythm & blues, recording a television video of "Chain of Fools". The tongue-in-cheek choreography by Heikki Värtsi included girl group dancing and Carola whipping a man in a cave.[4][5]
  • "Chain of Fools" was one of the soul songs covered by the 1990 Irish film The Commitments. It was sung by The Commitments band's female singers "The Commitmentettes" and features in the movie's self-titled soundtrack album.
  • In 1990 the American hard rock band Little Caesar covered the song on their self-titled debut album.
  • A blues boogie version by R. L. Burnside appears on his 2000 album Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down.
  • High & Mighty covered the song on their 1999 single.
  • In 2000 Australian Rock artist Jimmy Barnes did a cover version of this song for his live album Soul Deeper.
  • In 2001 the American Rock/Punk band Lit made a cover of the song for their album Atomic, where it is a bonus song.
  • In 2001, Italian group Zu covered the song with Eugene Chadbourne and Roy Paci on the 2001 album Motorhellington.
  • A German version, entitled Schön, Schön, Schön, was published in 2003 by the German soul singer Stefan Gwildis.
  • In the 2003 film School of Rock, the character Tomika (played by Maryam Hassan) performs part of the song as an audition to become a backing singer in the band.
  • In 2005, cover version "Chain of Fools: Revisited" appeared on the album Timeless Playground by Milto Eph.
  • Brazilian singers Pitty and Negra Li covered the song on 2007 EP Estúdio Coca-Cola - Pitty e Negra Li
  • 2009 Blues Music Award Nominee Jean Shy and her band The Shy Guys performed, and recorded this song live at an Open Air Concert in Duisburg, Germany. It was released on their CD Unchain My Heart.
  • Richard Marx covered the song at a concert, which included additional lyrics: "Killing time / At the Bottom Line / Feeling fine / At the Bottom Line."
  • The song is used as "Lei Lei Lei" as the ending theme to Ok, il prezzo è giusto!, the Italian version of The Price is Right.
  • The song is also one of Gabby Kenny's cover songs.
  • In 1993, the Italian singer, Giorgia, made a live version of this song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 215. 
  2. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  3. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  4. ^ Carola (FI): Chain of Fools (Song) (In German). swisscharts.com]
  5. ^ Carolaa neljällä kielellä (Carola in four languages. In Finnish). YLE
  6. ^ "Fantasia (4) – I Believe (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues number-one single
January 20 - February 10, 1968
Succeeded by
"I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations