Following on from yesterday’s post where I mentioned that Coldcut had had some chart success in the late 80’s. They collaborated with the likes of Lisa Stansfield on “People Hold On and Junior Reid on Stop This Crazy Thing and the living leg end that is Mark E Smith. Probably their best remembered collaboration is the single credited to Yazz and The Plastic Population, The Only Way Is Up which reached number 1 in 1988.
At the time I remember it being commented that this was a cover of an old northern soul tune which puzzled me as I had never heard it before anywhere and neither had any of the soulies I knew. In those pre-internet days it took a few years to track down the original.
The song was originally recorded by Otis Clay and issued as a single in 1980 on Echo records. Clay was born in Wexham, Mississippi in 1942 and is still active, singing gospel and releasing albums on the Echo Label (which he owns). The Only Way is Up may have the sentiment of gospel but not the sound, however it neither sounds like a Northern tune to these ears either, to me it has a disco/modern soul vibe to it. Whatever the classification it is an uplifting stormer of a track but very pricey if you can even find a copy as it is as rare as hobby horse shit these days.
Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up