Human Nature www.humannature.com.au
‘Get Ready’ is the third and final volume in Human Nature’s joyous and monumentally popular series of tribute albums to the sound of the Motor City. It follows on from the ARIA Award-winning, chart-topping, multi-platinum original, Reach Out , and its chart-topping, multi-platinum sequel, Dancing In The Street .
When Human Nature first set out to make a record of their favourite songs from this stable of hits, never in their wildest dreams did they imagine it might come to this. Recording duets with the legendary Smokey Robinson? Get Ready – that’s just the start of it.
What makes ‘Get Ready’ different to the first two records, what makes this third volume the most special of the lot, it features Human Nature singing right alongside some of the original superstars.
‘Get Ready’s special guest list includes the incomparable Smokey Robinson. Human Nature also trades notes with The Temptations, the great Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, and The Supremes’ Mary Wilson.
Wait until you hear the opening track, Human Nature’s distinctive magical harmonies backing up one of their true musical heroes, the one and only Smokey Robinson as he rips up the title track of GET READY, a song Smokey himself originally wrote for The Temptations.
It is an amazing recording, undoubtedly right up there as a highlight of Human Nature’s 18 years together as a vocal group. But the whole ‘Get Ready’ project has been full of unbelievable moments.
Take the great Martha Reeves. First, she lets the boys re-record one of her signature tunes for the new record – it’s “[Love Is Like A] Heatwave”, with Martha and Michael Tierney up front and the other boys themselves taking the place of the Vandellas. Incredible. But Martha didn’t want to leave it at that.
Martha invited Human Nature to join her in Motor City, Detroit, the original home of famous sound. These days, she works in the Detroit City council, so she organised a little surprise for the boys, holding a civic ceremony in their honour and presenting them with a “Spirit of Detroit” award for their services in carrying on the sound of Detroit. Simply unbelievable.
Human Nature sang at the reception and it was potentially the toughest room they’ve ever played. “We were going to sing and we said we’ll sing ‘Tracks of my Tears’,” Andrew recalls with a laugh. “Everyone in there was black, we were the only white guys in there. And one of the council women said, ‘Oh, you’re brave, singing a Smokey song in Detroit.’ But then we sang it and they all cheered and it was kind of cool.”
It wasn’t the only accolade the band picked up along the way. “When we first met Smokey, we sang him our a cappella version of ‘Ooo Baby Baby’, which is one of Smokey Robinson’s most popular songs,” remembers Toby. “We did an interview with him in LA on the way back where we sang it again and in the interview, he stopped and said, ‘I truly think that is the best version of that song I’ve ever heard.’ It was like, ‘Wow Smokey, what a compliment!’”
In fact, so impressed was Smokey with Human Nature’s vocal talents that he’s agreed to come to Australia to perform with the boys and help them launch ‘Get Ready’. How amazing is that?
Although it’s turned out to be the realisation of a dream for Human Nature and such an extraordinary new album, ‘Get Ready’ very nearly never happened.
After two chart-topping albums and two euphoric national tours, the members of Human Nature initially weren’t sure if they wanted to make a third volume of tributes. “The track listing on this one is still just as powerful as the others,” says Phil. “But we just thought that regardless of the power of the songs, for ourselves, we really wanted something incredibly special – a more fitting way to finish the trilogy.”
Finally, the four old mates decided to record a volume three with the dream that at least half the tracks on the album would be duets with some of the original legends.
This far-fetched concept was actually one of the boys initial ideas to include on 2005’s ‘Reach Out’, the ARIA-Award winning original album in the set. It’s easy to forget that back then, the idea of Human Nature doing an album of covers of songs from that era was, in itself, a pretty radical concept.
“A couple of years ago, it was pretty left-field that we would do an album of covers,” says Mike.
“The first one we did on a shoestring because we believed in it,” says Andrew. “The record company said, ‘Okay, go away and make it, see what happens.’ Now, the first two have earned us the right to fulfil our dream to actually perform with the original artists. And you realise how special it is when you hear us singing with Smokey Robinson. That’s pretty cool.”
Definitely pretty cool, and also a bit surreal. “We almost couldn’t believe it until we went into the studio in LA,” says Toby. “It was so emotional to hear his voice with ours. It was a bit bizarre to have it all come together. Now that it’s a reality, it’s really exciting to know that people are going to hear it all.”
Human Nature ended up singing two songs with Smokey on ‘Get Ready’, the title track as well as a new version of one of the legend’s most iconic songs, “Tears of a Clown”.
Mary Wilson of The Supremes also features on two tracks – a breathtaking version of “River Deep, Mountain High” and a feisty take of “It Takes Two” – while The Temptations join Human Nature on a spirit-lifting remake of The Temptations’ own classic, “The Way You Do the Things You Do”.
Aside from the duets, the 15-track ‘Get Ready’ also sees Human Nature breath new life into another wonderful selection of all time classics from Hitsville, U.S.A, including The Commodores’ “Easy”, the Four Tops’ “It’s The Same Old Song” and that very special a capella version of Smokey’s “Ooo Baby Baby”.
‘Get Ready’ is the must-have final volume in Human Nature’s ground-breaking, already much-imitated tribute series. ‘Get Ready’ is Human Nature singing alongside the living legends.
So, ‘Get Ready’ to sing and dance along again with Human Nature and their superstar guests. ‘Get Ready’, ‘cause here they come.