“Hard To Handle” – Otis Redding – 1967 – Al Jackson, Jr. – 96 (192 bpm half time)
This month’s groove is “Hard To Handle”, no not the one you’re thinking of, the original “Hard To Handle”, by Otis Redding, with Al Jackson, Jr on drums. In fact, one of the best reasons to learn this one is because the other version is so “need-to-know.” I don’t know if this is the same all around the country, but I have not seen a cover band from the Detroit area in the last fifteen years that has not done The Black Crowes’ version of the song. The version by The Black Crowes is so accessible that most students have certainly heard it, so this is a great opportunity to talk about the differences between the versions. Instead of being straight ahead, Redding’s version is a simple half time shuffle, and is a great intro to that groove before adding in all the extra coordination needed to take the more common Bernard Purdie approach.
This groove has a running shuffle pattern on the hihat. You can think of this either as 4/4 triplets or in 12/8. Either is fine, just make sure to take the middle note out of each group of three to create the shuffle feel. For simplicities sake I’m going to describe the groove in 4/4. Kick comes in on count 1 as well as count 2, and snare gives us the half-time backbeat on three.
Hard To Handle was tracked as part of a recording session done by Otis Redding backed by Booker T and the MG’s with Al Jackson, Jr on drums, shortly before Redding’s death in 1967.
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