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Album: Dirty WorkReleased: 1986Charted:
The Harlem Shuffle is a dance that was popular in the '50s and '60s originating in Harlem ballrooms. Harlem is a section of New York City with a large black population.
This was originally recorded by the R&B duo Bob and Earl in 1969. Their version, which was produced by Barry White, hit #7 in the UK. Keith Richards wanted to record this for quite a while. He would put the original version on demo tapes for Mick Jagger. The Bob and Earl version was sampled on the House Of Pain hit "Jump Around
In 1964, The Stones released a cover of The Valentinos' "It's All Over Now
." Bobby Womack, who wrote that song and sang lead on the original, sang backup on this and other songs on Dirty Work
Backup singers included Womack, Tom Waits, Don Covay, and Patti Scialfa, who would later marry Bruce Springsteen.
Keith Richards said of this song in 1986: "I've been trying to get Harlem Shuffle on an album, without actually telling Mick, for 5 or 6 years. I thought that was a natural number for him to sing - it was made for him. I've been giving him cassettes with Harlem Shuffle stuffed in the middle somewhere for a long time, but I never got any real response. One night we were in the studio and Woody and I started plunking away at it. We were amazed at how simple the song was - about 2 chords. The band was just warming up on it, jamming, when Mick walked in and started singing. We realized, YEAH. And we did it in 2 takes. So it paid off eventually, though it cost me a fortune in cassettes."
Two extended versions were released as 12-inch singles, the "London Mix" and "NY Mix."
The video was one of the first to combine live action with animation. It opens with a cartoon featuring some cats going to a club, where the Rolling Stones are playing. The cartoon cats show up throughout the video. Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi did the animation. Both artists pioneered adult animation and specialized in cats: Bakshi worked on Fritz the Cat, which was the first cartoon movie to get an X rating, and Kricfalusi drew for the raunchy cartoon Ren and Stimpy.