Who Sang It Better, by Rich Paschall
The British rock band The Spencer Davis Group was formed in 1963 and had various success in the mid 1960s. One of their biggest hits was “I’m A Man” written by singer-songwriter and keyboardist for the band, Steve Winwood, and their record producer, Jimmy Miller. The song was released in 1967 and made the top ten in both the U.K. and U.S.
Winwood is on lead vocals and drives the Hammond organ with a strong beat. It was the last big hit for the group. Winwood and his older brother Muff (Mervyn, actually) left the band shortly after to pursue other interests. Steve formed the band Traffic and Muff joined the record industry as a talent scout and artistic developer.
The band The Chicago Transit Authority, later just “Chicago,” covered the song 50 years ago on their first album we know as CTA. It was not released as a single and found little success in the early going. It was, however, a band favorite in concert.
When Chicago started to earn success and singles were hitting the charts, “I’m A Man” came out as the B-Side to “Questions 67 and 68.” Radio stations were playing both sides of the record. The song even did as well in the U.K. as the original.
Today, Chicago continues to play the song in concert. It is an extended version with a long break in the middle for the percussionists to show off their talents as the other band members literally take a break.
The version below is with the incomparable Terry Kath on guitar and lead vocals for the first verse. The entire Tanglewood 1970 concert from which this cut is taken is available on YouTube — for free.
You might be able to guess my vote for best if you have been following us here.