HELEN REDDY – Hit the Road Jack [Capitol/Jazz Classics]

A swinging cover of a Ray Charles vehicle that sounds to all the world like a forgotten soul jazz curio, this barn-storming version of  ‘Hit the Road Jack’ is actually the creative property of Australian-American ‘Queen of ’70s Pop’ Helen Reddy.

Hailing from the b-side of 1972’s I Am Woman, an easy listening album rendered all-conquering courtesy of the country-tinged feminist anthem of the same name, and understandably (if perhaps somewhat spuriously) rereleased as a ‘jazz classic’ in 2009, Reddy’s version takes the instrumentalisation of Percy Mayfield’s original a cappella to its natural conclusion, with all hands to the pumps from the off and nobody letting up before the fade.

All the same, it’s one of those tunes that sounds better the less you know about it.

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