The cover – unveiled in a socially distanced performance posted to YouTube – marks the first material released by Stanley’s side project Soul Station. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has been developing the group for several years, recruiting an expansive list of talented musicians to help pay tribute to the great soul and Motown songs of yesteryear.
“These are challenging times,” said Stanley said in a statement accompanying the song. “Long before I ever heard the great British bands, I grew up listening to Philly Soul, Motown and so much more. I was lucky to see Otis Redding and Solomon Burke among others. That music and its storytelling gave me strength and hope, even in some tough days. The great classics of that era are magical medicine for most, and I felt myself drawn back to that era for some sorcery I think we could all use.”
Alluding to the coronavirus pandemic, Stanley went on to explain how the cover came together: “While it’s hard to connect physically, some of Soul Station decided to reach out and make a virtual and emotional connection on a great Motown and Smokey Robinson classic ‘Ooo Baby Baby.’”
While most of the rendition stays true to the 1965 original – including distinctive harmonies and soaring falsetto lead – Stanley added his own spin to the middle of the tune, breaking things down for a spoken-word portion.
“All right, people,” he begins while addressing listeners. “No matter whether you’re with other people or you’re home alone, you’re not really alone, ’cause all of us are in this together. And music can bring us that much closer together. And when we sing, we’re definitely a group. So don’t be shy.”
He then invites fans at home to sing along with the video, which you can watch below.
Soul Station made their live debut in September 2015 at Los Angeles’ Roxy Theatre and have been performing sporadically ever since. In December 2018, Stanley posted images of the group in the studio recording its debut album. An update in October 2019 said the LP was in the “home stretch,” but further details, including album title and release date, have yet to be announced.