Spanky Wilson – Sunshine Of Your Love

4th July 2024 · 1960s, 1969, Funk, Music, Soul

Cream’s original version of this song was played a lot when I was at school, driven along by a bassline Jack Bruce apparently inspired by seeing a Hendrix concert. It was only much later that I heard this funky soul version by Spanky Wilson, with its exuberant horns and serpentine basslines.

The Philly-born, Pittsburgh-raised Louella Wilson was given her nickname as a child, on account of the regular beatings her father administered to her. Which doesn’t sound good viewed through a 21st century prism, but she kept the name throughout her career.

Perhaps she was just a naughty girl. At any rate, she gave birth to a child when she was only 16, and was soon performing, releasing her first single – a string-laden ballad called The Last Day Of Summer – in 1967 when she was still only 17. 

In the late ’60s she sang on big-band recordings with the likes of Duke Ellington, Lalo Schifrin, Marvin Gaye and Sammy Davis Jr. In the early ’70s she recorded a stunning session in Detroit that included this jazz-funk cover of Bill Withers’ Kissing My Love.

In 1985 she remarried and moved to Paris, finding a new audience in Europe. Around the same time, her older solo records were re-released in the UK and tunes such as this one were being discovered by a new generation of DJs, prompting intrigue about the whereabouts of the singer.

British musician and producer Will Holland spent many years searching and finally tracked her down in 2004 after she moved back to Los Angeles. She recorded a couple of tunes with his band Quantic before making a full-length album with his retro funk outfit the Quantic Soul Orchestra, including this smouldering number, I’m Thankful.

Her most recent recording was an album with the oddly named Ruckus Roboticus called TGIF: Thank God It’s Funky, released in 2012 on Dance Or Die Records.