Flashback Soul: Rufus Thomas & Aerosmith Enjoy “Walking The Dog”

While screaming like a teenager earlier this month at the opening of Aerosmith’s residency in Las Vegas, I found myself mesmerized by the skill of the band’s drummer, Joey Kramer. Although no doubt skilled at rocking in 4/4 time, Kramer also can swing with the best of them and frequently  dropped in fills and patterns that to my ear were soul/R&B-influenced.  I thereafter looked up Kramer’s history and discovered that, right before joining Aerosmith, he had been the drummer for Chubby and the Turnpikes, which later became known as Tavares.  So that explains Kramer’s R&B chops, and may also account for why, on its debut album released in 1973, Aerosmith’s only cover was of the soul classic “Walking The Dog” by the great Rufus Thomas.

While screaming like a teenager earlier this month at the opening of Aerosmith’s residency in Las Vegas, I found myself mesmerized by the skill of the band’s drummer, Joey Kramer. Although no doubt skilled at rocking in 4/4 time, Kramer also can swing with the best of them and frequently  dropped in fills and patterns that to my ear were soul/R&B-influenced.  I thereafter looked up Kramer’s history and discovered that, right before joining Aerosmith, he had been the drummer for Chubby and the Turnpikes, which later became known as Tavares.  So that explains Kramer’s R&B chops, and may also account for why, on its debut album released in 1973, Aerosmith’s only cover was of the soul classic “Walking The Dog” by the great Rufus Thomas.

Thomas, of course, was one of the legendary, ground-breaking artists on the STAX label in Memphis. His recording of the track was released in 1963 and quickly climbed into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 14 weeks. The song’s fans in the rock world extend far beyond Aerosmith to The Rolling Stones, Roger Daltry, Green Day and many others who have covered but never surpassed Thomas’s version. We feature here Thomas’s original and Aerosmith’s cover, both of which swing and swagger in their own delightful way.  Enjoy. 

By Robb Patryk

 

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