Above, The Rotary Connection’s stellar version of Jimi Hendrix’s warped “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”, which you may recognize as being sampled in Jay-Z’s “Hova Song.” The Rotary Connection, led by a very young Minnie Riperton, take what’s arguably one of Hendrix’s lesser singles and crank up the majestic. They pile on the strings and vocals, particularly Minnie’s voice–which is striking in any octave, though she spends most of the song hanging out with Yma Sumac in the stratosphere.
The Rotary Connection were a psychedelic-soul outfit headed up by Marshall Chess, the son of Chess Records scion Leonard Chess. They recruited Riperton right from their own offices. She was the receptionist. Lucky find! I got this collection a while back, and I love it, though I understand why the band never made it big. There are tons of covers on here; they had a particularly odd obsession with Cream, covering multiple versions of their songs. It’s easy to see why they were thought of as a cover band, even though their originals are pretty fantastic. You might recognize the sitar lick at the beginning of “Memory Band”:
Beyond that, a lot of the Rotary Connection stuff leans heavily on the “Psych” in Psychedelic Soul. Check out this minor-keyed version of “Respect” (no R-E-S-P-E-C-T here):
“I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” is another fave:
Riperton went on to bigger things before succumbing to cancer in 1979 at the age of 31.