“(I Wanna) Testify”

There was a Plainfield, New Jersey, doo-wop group who formed in 1955 and sang for years, recording lots of music for a number of labels, including Berry Gordy’s Motown Records (none of those ever issued), but no big hit records. Finally, the group left Motown and made a mark with a national hit in 1967 with great lyrics and smooth voices. The song was “(I Wanna) Testify.”

Friends, inquisitive friends
Are asking me what’s come over me
A change, there’s been a change
And it’s oh so plain to see
Love just walked in on me
And it’s taken me by surprise
Happiness surrounds me
You can see it in my eyes
Now it was just a little while ago
My life was incomplete
I was down, so doggone low
I had to look up at my feet

Don’t you know, I want to testify
What your love has done for me
Everybody sing, I just want to testify
Oh girl, what your love has done for me

Don’t you know, I want to testify
What your love has done for me
Everybody sing, I just want to testify
Oh girl, what your love has done for me

Hum – mmmm luscious
Sure been delicious to me
Hear me now, hum-mmmmmmm
Luscious, sure been delicious to me

Once I was a hollow man
In which a lonely heart did dwell
Then love came sneaking up on me
Bringing hope to an empty shell
Now I’ve heard so many times before
That your love can be so bad
But I just want to tell you people
It’s the best love I ever had

Talkin’ ’bout, I just want to testify
What your love has done for me
Everybody sing (oh girl) I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

Hear me now, hummmmmmm
(Luscious) sure been delicious to me
Bring it home now, I just want to testify
What you love has done for me

Everybody sing, I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

The group was The Parliaments, the tune penned by George Clinton and Daron Taylor. Through a variety of machinations and disagreements, Clinton would soon disband The Parliaments and renamed the band Funkadelic, abandoning the doo-wop style for which they were known. And Parliament would, of course, re-emerge as the horn-driven soulful alter ego of Funkadelic.

The Parliaments

In 1969, Johnnie Taylor also had a hit on the pop and R&B charts with his version, a stirring “Testify (I Wonna)” from his album The Johnnie Taylor Philosophy Continues.

Parliament, firmly on the one, updated their version of “Testify” on the 1974 masterpiece Up for the Down Stroke.

There were other covers over the years, but perhaps none as unusal as the one from Stevie Ray Vaughan’s incredible debut LP Texas Flood. This is brilliant guitar playing but virtually unrecognizable as the Parliaments’ song. We’ll let you be the judge.

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