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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Three Great Covers

Sometimes, the movie IS better than the book. And sometimes, the cover is better than the original. I present three of my favourites as evidence.

Everybody of a certain age was there in 1969. And if they weren't in body - they were in spirit. I know I was.

It was Woodstock, baby - arguably the most defining moment of the hippie subculture. A generation was turning left en masse - tuning in and dropping out - and The Man was horrified. If peace, love and dope was the message, music was the messenger. And Woodstock broadcast it to the world.

Of the many memorable performances, Joe Cocker's rendition of the Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends stands out. His passion rendered him spastic. The words weren't sung. They were torn from his belly and squeezed through his soul.

Never seen it? Only seen it 47 times?

You're all in luck.

Turn up your speakers folks and please, as always, do up those seat belts. (No extra charge for the french subtitles. They disappear for most of it.)

The next song, in my opinion, ranks as one of the most astounding vocal performances in popular music. Spyder Turner's mimicry of other singers during his cover of Ben E. King's Stand By Me is uncanny. But this is no novelty record. This is a vocal tour de force by an amazing talent. I still get chills at the end when he sings: "But my name is Spyder Turner and I'll get on my knees and say 'Darlin' - don't go!...'"

Although the video consists of a series of static images, they're interesting in that they show pics of all the performers Turner imitates. The sound is good and I deliberately wanted to find the original 45 rpm.

The final clip was a real treat to find and made my week. One of my favourite tunes performed superbly in a live setting. Not any ordinary live setting, nosir. We're talking about a clip from the Ed Sullivan Show.

Vanilla Fudge recorded a cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hanging On that just might be the most radical departure from an original, ever. It's psychedelic. It's soul. It's blues. It's amazing drumming by Carmine Appice. It's weird.

And this performance is absolutely wonderful. (You'll thank me for reminding you about the seatbelt.)

Enjoy. (Apologies to early clickers, I'd originally posted the wrong Cocker clip.)

Thanks to GGLEC78, Classic63 and JustU95 for the vids.


  1. Must listen later. Out the door to see Dolly Parton with the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. I'm told the crowd will be dominated (hehe) by drag queens in full regalia. Can't wait. Hey, it was a free ticket, and includes parking in Pasadena with a round trip Bowl bus ride. Dolly Parton, me and a bus full of drag queens. Who's writing this stuff anyhow?

  2. Fantabulous !!! Thanks Frank :)

  3. I love that Vanilla Fudge version of Keep Me Hangin' On. So cool seeing Carmine Appice near the beginning of his illustrious career.

    My fave cover has to be Jimi Hendrix's complete reworking of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower. This is probably the prime example of a cover that so completely outshone the original that it became the definitive version of the song:

  4. Thanks for a great start to a HOT Sunday!

  5. Cay, I'll await a full report. I just hope you don't have another acid flashback about drowning and grabbing onto Dolly's pontoons....

    MG, your taste is music is as fine as your taste in writing and photography. ;)

    My pleasure, Zia. :)

    Charlie, I debated making Jimi's version one of my three. I love it. It certainly is an all-timer, and like the Fudge tune, a radical re-working of the original. But I guess I still hear it too often on radio. Maybe on the next go-round.

    You're welcome, Bruce.

    Thanks all, for taking the time. I appreciate it.

  6. You should do a "worst covers" post, highlighting versions of songs that never should have been recorded, let alone released. Such as The GooGoo Dolls pointless rendition of Supertramp's Give A Little Bit.

    Just kidding, I know you only put the cream of the crop on your jukebox, Frank. :)

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