“Valdez In The Country” has a relatively complicated lineage. One thing is crystal clear though: Donny Hathaway is the genius behind it.
The first iteration of the song is called “Patty Cake”, and was released in 1969 by King Curtis. Then, Hathaway did a version for the band Cold Blood in 1972. Finally, he recorded his own iconic version in 1973, which is a fantastic tune.
The Nite-Liters’ version is not necessarily the most accomplished. Much of the nuance of Hathaway’s version is lost, and the song doesn’t go nearly as far in terms of technical musicality.
What it does do however, is emphasise the song’s best bits. The horns are bold and bright, the bassline is fluid and funky, the guitar riff is much more apparent than other versions. It’s a much more high energy version than Hathaway’s chilled out rendition.
The Nite-Liters were an iteration of New Birth, the long running funk ensemble. Their cover of “Valdez In The Country” was released in 1973 on A-Nal-Y-Sis.