100 Proof Aged In Soul & Syl Johnson

100 Proof’s blistering ‘Somebody’s Been Sleeping’ was an R&B and pop hit in the summer of 1970, and arguably one of the finest 45s to emerge from Holland, Dozier & Holland’s Invictus/Hot Wax stable.

Easy to dismiss as lightweight pop soul, everything about this 45 is class. From the chiming guitar introduction, doom-laden bass line and ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ chant the tone is set perfectly. An adult twist is given to the Goldilocks and Three Bears fairy tale, with lead vocalist Steve Mancha on fine form as he rasps his dismay at the telling evidence of an unknown visitor to his marital home – ‘Cigarettes in the ash tray, and I don’t even smoke’ and ‘My brand new silk pyjama’s, They’re rolled up in the chair’.

The YouTube video features the extended album version with an instrumental break that reminds me of the Politicians ‘Love Machine’ which was a later Hot Wax 45.

Intriguingly, two years later, Syl Johnson’s cover of the old Jackie Wilson hit ‘That’s Why’ kicks off with an exact rendition of the 100 Proof intro, and as the 100 Proof original does, the intro theme is used as a break in the middle of the song. Given that Syl’s song was a B-side it was probably missed by the guys at Invictus/Hot Wax.