Most Wanted! William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got (Onur Engin Edit) (Square Records)
How lucky we are with not one, nor two but three versions of the monumental ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’. With all of them all quite worth the investement as a matter of fact. From its original album recording, back in 1974, on a mellow vein. To a slightly boosted 12 inch version in 1980. Then this unofficial edit some 30 years after by the likes of Turkish studio guru Onur Engin. With the latter sort of following the path opened back in 1980 by David Todd on the then new version of the aforementioned. In other words, subtly bringin’ it to the next level…
We’re speakin’ here of an edit and not a remix. With the exercise being slightly different. The latter being s a modification with the intend to make a song more suitable for a specific niche – clubplay, airplay whether it be adjusted for length, profanity, subject matter, instrumentation, or form. And this Onur Engin edit of ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ perfectly does the job. Bringin’ its elements to a new perspective. From its lush key parts to its infectious rumblin’ bassline. But also its rhythmic guitar part and the beat…
Pretty much worth the investment then, considering its inclusion in a 4 tracker featuring other edits he did of ‘Brown Baby’, ‘As’ and ‘O Morro Não Tem Vez’, respectively for Diana Ross, Gene Harris and João Donato.
– WDC-native William DeVaughn shared his time as a drafting technician for the Government and an occasional singer. A guitarist, but also a songwriter, he first came up with ‘A Cadillac Don’t Come Easy’ which he ended up rewriting. Eventually retitling it ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’.
From then, he spent US$ 900 to record it at Philadelphia’s Omega Sound. Eventually recruiting the nucleus of MFSB. In other words, Earl Young (drums), Ron Baker (bass) and Norman Harris. But also Bobby Eli (guitar) and Vincent Montana, Jr. (vibraphone). Not to mention producer Allan Felder. Meanwhile John Davis came up with smooth arrangements and took time to refine it at Sigma Sound. Frank Fioravanti, its executive producer and co-ordinator, securing its release on Roxbury Records, a subsidiary of Chelsea Records in 1974.
The success happened to be immediate, with William DeVaughn selling close to 2 million copies of it.
It eventually got a new life 6 years later, although on a slightly retouched 12 inch version to bring it a groovier feel. Turkish DJ/producer Onur Engin givin’ it a boiling hot edit back in 2010 on Square Records.
“Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ inspired countless artists. From rappers N.W.A. and Ice Cube who sampled it repsectively on ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ and ‘Stand Tall. To Massive Attack who covered it back in 1991. Then Omar and Erykah Badu 10 years after to name but a few…
Strangely enough, William DeVaughn only released 2 albums. With is latest, ‘Figures Can’t Calculate The Love I Have For You’. An opus which featured the new version of ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” back in 1980 on TEC Records. He ended up losing interest in the music industry, working in a record store then again back as a draftsman.
– Not as well known as Danny Krivit or Dimitri from Paris, Istanbul-based Onur Engin stands nevertheless in the same league though. Just like his French alter ego Reverend P. The one of those instinctively knowing how enhancing music. He most likely made himself a name as a definitive alchemist while breathing new life into blasts from the past. With his numerous edits most definitely speakin’ for themselves. Meanwhile displayin’ a rare fineness. From William DeVaughn‘s ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ to Freddie Hubbard‘s ‘Sunflower’. If not Diana Ross‘s ‘Brown Baby’ to name but a very few.