"Pick Up the Pieces"
Pick Up the Pieces by AWB US single 1974.png
Side A of the American single
Single by Average White Band
from the album AWB
B-side"Work to Do"
ReleasedJuly 1974
Recorded1974
GenreFunk, jazz-funk
Length3:59 (Album Version)
3:02 (Single Version)
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Roger Ball, Malcolm Duncan, Alan Gorrie, Onnie McIntyre, Hamish Stuart, Robbie McIntosh
Producer(s)Arif Mardin
Average White Band singles chronology
"Put It Where You Want It"
(1974)
"Pick Up the Pieces"
(1974)
"Cut the Cake"
(1975)
Alternative release
Side A of the British single
Side A of the British single

"Pick Up the Pieces" is a 1974 song by the Average White Band from their second album, AWB. On the single, songwriting credit was given to founding member and saxophonist Roger Ball and guitarist Hamish Stuart individually and the entire band collectively. It is essentially an instrumental, apart from the song's title being shouted at several points in the song.

Background

The guitar line of the song came from Hamish Stuart, while Roger Ball wrote the first part of the horn melody. The song was produced by Arif Mardin. According to Malcolm 'Molly' Duncan, he had disagreed with releasing the song as a single because the song is a "funk instrumental played by Scotsmen with no lyrics other than a shout". He also said about the shouts of "Pick up the pieces": "It's about picking yourself up when things aren't going well. We'd spent a lot of time making no money whatsoever, so it felt very relevant."[1] The song is an extended long version on the live Person To Person album (1976) (18:06) and on the various artists album The Atlantic Family Live at Montreux (1977) (21:40). The tenor saxophone solo on the Montreux version is by noted jazz instrumentalist Michael Brecker. The solo on the original release is by Molly Duncan.

The song is in the key of F minor.

Chart performance

"Pick Up the Pieces" was released in the United Kingdom in July 1974 but failed to chart. When the album was released in the United States in October 1974, radio stations there started to play the song, and on 22 February 1975, it went to the top of the US singles chart and peaked at number five on the soul charts.[2] Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song for 1975. In Canada, it reached number 4 on the weekly charts,[3] and number 44 on the year-end chart.[4] After its North American success, the song charted in the UK and climbed to number six. "Pick Up the Pieces" also made it to number eleven on the US disco chart.[5]

In popular culture

After the song's success, The J.B.'s recorded an answer song, "Pick Up the Pieces One By One". The single was credited to "A.A.B.B.", or "Above Average Black Band". Reportedly, the primary motivation for the answer song was the appropriation of the bass line to James Brown's "Hot Pants Road".[6][better source needed]

In Superman II the song plays on the jukebox in a small town in Idaho, when General Zod (Terence Stamp) alongside Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) terrorizes and almost destroys with their super powers.

In "The Way We Was", episode 12, season 2 of The Simpsons, in a flashback sequence, Homer is heard listening to this song in his room whilst preparing for a high school debate.

In Iron Man 2, Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell) danced to this song in the scene where he was going to be introduced at the expo.

In Bowfinger, the song sounds in the red carpet of the "Chubby Rain" movie premier. It is the second movie with Terence Stamp and Robert Downey Jr that features the theme.

Singer and drummer Phil Collins covered the track twice, on his big band album A Hot Night in Paris, released in 1999, and on his boxset Plays Well with Others, released in 2018.

In 1994, Jeff Golub did a cover on the electric guitar featuring Rick Braun on the flugelhorn on his album Avenue Blue. Avenue Blue was the band Jeff Golub was in from 1994 to 1998.

In 2004, Kenny G did a cover on the tenor saxophone featuring David Sanborn on the alto saxophone on his album At Last...The Duets Album.

The song was featured in the 2006 dark comedy Running with Scissors, in a scene in which Natalie teaches Augusten disco dance moves.

In 2021, the song was included in the official Biden + Harris 2021 Inauguration Playlist.

References

  1. ^ Simpson, Dave (14 August 2017). "Average White Band: how we made Pick Up the Pieces". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 39.
  3. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - March 1, 1975" (PDF).
  4. ^ "RPM Top 200 Singles - December 27, 1975" (PDF).
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 26.
  6. ^ "A.A.B.B. – Pick Up the Pieces One By One | Funky16Corners". Funky16corners.wordpress.com. 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2016-10-10.