Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can

8th August 2023 · 1970, 1970s, Funk, Music, Soul

Here’s a slice of slinky, sinuous, sweaty, steamy Southern funk from the natural home of that sort of thing – New Orleans.

Written by Crescent City legend Allen Toussaint, this is the first version of his song to be released – recorded in 1970 by Lee Dorsey with The Meters as his backing band. The two-part number swings with that laid-back funky vibe that’s the hallmark of the music to come out of the Big Easy.

Dorsey, another New Orleans native, first worked with Toussaint way back in 1960, recording the million-selling song Ya Ya – his first hit single. They worked together regularly for more than a decade, enjoying their biggest hit with Working In The Coal Mine in 1966.

After Dorsey recorded this song – Yes We Can – in 1970 it was covered by a new family group from California called The Pointer Sisters who made a demo of the song, hoping it might help them land a record deal. It did, and became their first hit single after they re-recorded it in San Francisco late in 1972 for what became their debut album.

A year after that it was covered again by Chicago duo Mel & Tim after the Mississippi-born siblings signed for Stax and went back to their roots with a pair of albums recorded in Muscle Shoals.

Numerous other versions have been recorded since then by artists as diverse as  José Feliciano, Sly & Robbie, Harry Connick Jr, Joss Stone and Maceo Parker.

All of them are superb but none, I would argue, are quite as good as this one.