Seth James’ ‘Solid Gold Plated Fool’ Cover Is By Request From Delbert McClinton [Exclusive Premiere]
Seth James' new take on Delbert McClinton's "Solid Gold Plated Fool" is the product of a request from the fellow Texan himself. Because when a blues great asks you to cover one of his songs, you say yes.
James is a longtime fan and student of McClinton, who is known for his 1980 pop Top 10 "Giving It Up for Your Love" and "Tell Me About It," a 1992 duet with Tanya Tucker that was a country Top 5. The two have toured together, too.
"Many of my favorite songs are songs written by Delbert McClinton. As a writer, his work speaks to me in a language that I can understand and is always accompanied by an undeniable groove," James tells The Boot. "“Solid Gold Plated Fool” is a prime example of that."
McClinton originally released the song in 1975, on his Victim of Life's Circumstances album. James says it's "been an anthem for me for most of my life."
I don’t run around seeking approval because I’ve learned that’s scary and just not a healthy thing to do, but when you get that kind of nod from him, it does mean a lot," James says of McClinton. To The Boot, he adds, "It’s important to me that I honor and pay tribute to those who came before me, and recording this song is just one small way to do that."
James' version of "Solid Gold Plated Fool" is premiering exclusively on The Boot. Watch a performance below:
"Solid Gold Plated Fool" is one of 14 tracks on James' forthcoming new album, Different Hat. Produced by Kevin McKendree, the album also includes "Raisin' Kane," a never-before-recorded JJ Cale song; also among the project's several covers is another JJ Cale song, "Wish I Had Not Said That."
James' new song "Moonpies," meanwhile, nearly had McClinton's name on it as a co-writer. He and James texted back and forth about the song, and James had planned to finish it with McClinton — the elder artist even suggested a small lyrical change before telling James he thought the song was finished. But, when James asked McClinton for his publishing information, "he said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’"
"So, according to Delbert, I wrote the song by myself," James says. "It’s a fun song –– and pretty bizarre, musically. It’s kind of half Howlin’ Wolf, half Burt Bacharach.”
James' musical foundation is in the blues, funk and R&B: He grew up listening to McClinton, Muddy Waters, Booker T. & the MGs and more on his family's ranch in King County, in West Texas. “A lot of those songs sounded like they were from people who worked hard ... [T]he language was simple and romantic in a way that I could understand," the artist recalls.
James released his first solo record in 2009, then took a detour from that path to co-found the band the Departed with his friend Cody Canada, himself formerly of Cross Canadian Ragweed. He released his most recent solo album, Good Life, in 2019.
Different Hat is due out on Friday (Aug. 27). Visit SethJamesMusic.com for more information.