Amii Stewart – Knock on Wood

First Hit #1: April 21, 1979

If the ’70s have proved anything, it’s that disco can be added to almost any recipe and make a successful hit. So Amii Stewart’s take on a ’60s soul standard isn’t really unexpected and probably less challenging than throwing disco at Beethoven. Stewart does make the song her own, and she does it through a vocal performance that is somewhat timeless.

Now, timeless is an overused word, and the song itself is the furthest thing from it – in fact, it’s doubtful you could find an arrangement more of it’s time. Stewart’s performance, however, is timeless, because she has elements which, with a switched up arrangement, could fit in other decades. The way she handles the song overall definitely owes a debt to the ’60s original, and it could easily be adapted into a girl group track, especially surrounding the “Knock-knock-knock on wood” chorus. Then, Stewart herself does some vocal gymnastics with the oohs which is a clear inspiration for later singers, such as Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston, who delighted in showing off their range, often through distinctive oohs. As it is, it’s a song that’s very much of its decade, but one would think Stewart would have had more hits, since she could easily sing in any decade.

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One Response to Amii Stewart – Knock on Wood

  1. Robert Berman says:

    It is a great vocal performance. As to why she never had another big hit: Maybe Cher’s borrowed headdress gave her whiplash? But seriously, although the musical arrangement was doubtless a big hit at discos, it also exemplifies the incipient transition away from disco as a music style into New Wave. Instead of a string section, there’s a synth solo. The shuffling guitar line (flanged, not distorted) and the straight rock drums replace the mm-pss-mm-pss hi-hat rhythm one finds in earlier disco hits. Still has pew-pew laser effects though.

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