Les McCann and Eddie Harris had performed earlier at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival and agreed to play together on June 21, 1969, with Benny Bailey (trumpet), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), and Donald Dean (drums). The song was the first of the McCann–Harris set. Their version of the song appeared on the album Swiss Movement; the single sold over a million copies and reached No. 35 on Billboard’s R&B chart. The song was later used in the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino.
Brian Auger's Oblivion Express Closer To It!
In 1973 Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express included a cover of the song on their album Closer to It. In 1975 the band performed the song, as their closing number, at San Francisco's Winterland, when the band opened for Fleetwood Mac. Pastermagazine.com describes the performance as a "foot-stomping, full blown funky jazz blowout" and adds: "Auger's bluesy Hammond organ licks have a timeless appeal and he and the group's offbeat humor are apparent throughout." The song was also included on the band's albums Live Oblivion - 1975, Best of Brian Auger - 1976 and Brian Auger's Obvlivion Express - 2005: Live at the Baked Potato.
Roberta Flack First Take
Flack recorded the song for her 1969 debut album First Take and "Compared to What" was her first single. Flack's manager that year was McCann. A contemporary reviewer suggested that her singing was "in a fiery rhythmic way reminiscent of the throbbing motion heard during congregational singing at Southern Baptist churches." Flack's version was included in the soundtrack for 1997 film Boogie Nights and the 2015 film The Man From U.N.C.L.E.