Sutherland Brothers – Sailing.mp3
Rod Stewart – Sailing.mp3
Our friend RH has supplied me with scores of lesser known originals. The biggest surprise of these perhaps was that Rod Stewart’s Sailing was in fact a cover version. Written in 1972, it was first recorded by the Sutherland Brothers. Having joined forces with the band Quiver, the brothers were also responsible for another possible inclusion in this series, Arms Of Mary, which readers of a certain vintage are more likely to associate with Danny Wilson’s1988 hit (and others, perhaps, as a hit for Chilliwack in the ’70s). The Sutherland Brothers’ version has a apposite shanty feel, with the keyboard player especially having fun experimenting with his toy. Rod’s version is richer and warmer. The old soul lover recorded it, and the rest of the ludicrously cover-designed Atlantic Crossing, in that incubator of great soul music: Muscle Shoals, Alabama. As I mentioned in my Pissing Off The Taste Police With Rod Stewart post last week, I’ve had an emotional attachment to Rod’s Sailing ever since it facilitated my first slow dance as an 11-year-old, so I instinctively love the song. Frankly, I can think of no good reason, other than its overexposure, why Rod’s Sailing seems to be so widely reviled.
Also recorded by: Joe Dassin (as Ma Musique, 1975), Robin Trower (1976), Joan Baez (1977), The Shadows (1981), Richard Clayderman (1988), Rock Against Repatriation (1990), The Gary Tesca Orchestra (1995), Khadja Nin (1998), Stina Nordenstam (1998), Smokie (2001), fucking Helmut Lotti (2003) a.o.
Best version: Holding the lovely Antje in my arms to the sounds of Rod Stewart singing Sailing…what do you think?
Jacques Dutronc – Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi.mp3
Mungo Jerry – Alright Alright Alright.mp3
This one is a bit of a contentious inclusion. Mungo Jerry didn’t so much cover Jacques Dutronc’s song as re-write it. There are songs billed as original compositions that bear a greater resemblance to another song than Alright Alright Alright does to Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi. Both are first-rate songs. Dutronc’s 1964 hit anticipates Plastic Bertand by 14 years and probably is more punk than the Belgian ever was. Mungo Jerry are often remembered as a bit of a novelty act or – worse and inaccurately– as a one-hit wonder. Fine songs, every bit the equal of In The Summertime, such as Lady Rose or Baby Jump, are often forgotten. Summertime’s b-side, Mighty Man, should be regarded as a classic, if only for singer Ray Dorset’s ad libbing sound effects. As for Dutronc, the man married Francoise Hardy. He is a lucky man.
Also recorded by: Nobody I’ve heard of.
Best version: Oh, they’re both so different… At a push, Mungo Jerry’s for the way Dorset sings “Awride awride awridaridaride”. And the Boo-pee-doop-doops.
Tommy James & The Shondells – I Think We’re Alone Now.mp3
Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now.mp3
Teenage singer Tiffany scored her 1987 debut hit I Think We’re Alone Now by performing it at malls. One wonders if the kids’ parents, seen in the video looking on bemusedly at Tiffany’s exploits, recognised the song as Tommy James & the Shondells’ 1967 US #4 hit (apparently described by Lester Bangs as “the bubblegum apotheosis”). Curiously, Tiffany’s cover was followed at the US #1 by another Tommy James cover, Mony Mony by Billy Idol. And before that, Joan Jett had a hit with a cover of Tommy James’ Crimson And Clover. Tiffany at 16 was the youngest female singer to top the US charts.
Also recorded by: The Rubinoos (1977), Lene Lovich (1978), “Weird Al” Yankovic (1988, as, “hilariously”, I Think I’m a Clone Now), Kanda (2003), Girls Aloud (2006), The Birthday Massacre (2008) a.o.
Best version: I used to loathe Tiffany’s version on principle but rather like it now. Still, Tommy James’ original is far superior.
Carson & Gaile – Something Stupid.mp3
Frank & Nancy Sinatra – Something Stupid.mp3
Sung by Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy, Something Stupid is just a little less creepy than Natalie Cole duetting with her long-dead father (I note that she’s at it again). Lee Hazlewood, who produced it, recalled that he phoned Frank to tell him that he was going to duet the song with Nancy if Frank wasn’t. It seems that in the mid-’60s people were not freaked out by such things yet, so Frank called dibs on hisdaughter. And you can’t really argue with the result: it’s a lovely easy listening production. It had been recorded by several artists in the months between its first recording in early 1967 by the song’s composer C. Carson Parks with Gaile and the Sinatras’ production in September that year (including a version by Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell in August). But it is Frank and Nancy’s version that is remembered. Carson & Gaile’s original recording – posted here courtesy of our man RH – isn’t wildly different; it has the acoustic guitars and tempo of the Frank ‘n Nancy production. Come to think of it, there isn’t much one can do it, as Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman showed when they returned the song to the UK #1 in 2001.
Also recorded by: The Amazing Dancing Band (1967), Ray Conniff (1967), Sacha Distel & Joanna Shimkus (as Ces mots stupides, 1967), Tino Rossi (as Ces mots stupides, 1967), Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967), Tammy Wynette & David Houston (1967), Andy Williams (1967), Artie Butler (1968), Ali & Kibibi Campbell (1995), Lu Campbell (1998), Dana Winner & Jan Decleir (1998), The Mavericks with Trisha Yearwood (2001), Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman (2001), Steve & Lauryn Tyrell (2005) a.o.
Best version: Sideshow Bob and Selma Bouvier
The Leaves – Hey Joe, Where Are You Going.mp3
Love – Hey Joe.mp3
Tim Rose – Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down).mp3
Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe.mp3
The genesis of Hey Joe is disputed, with some claiming it is an old traditional folk song. There seems to be wide consensus, however, that it was written in the early 1960s by a folk singer called Billy Roberts, who may well have borrowed from a 1950s country song by the same title written by Boudleaux Bryant. Something of a cult classic on LA’s live scene and reportedly propagated by David Crosby, Roberts’ song was eventually recorded by The Leaves (though some claim that the Surfaris recorded their version first, but released it after the Leaves’ version came out). Where The Leaves rock out in a psychedelic fashion, Jimi’s version’s, recorded in December 1966, is said to have been based on the slower folk-rock treatment by Tim Rose (who once was part of a folk trio including someone called Jim Hendricks, as well as Mama Cass Elliott), though Arthur Lee insisted it was the Love recording of September 1966 that inspired Hendrix (which with the Leaves’ version shares a riff very reminiscent of the Searchers’ Needles And Pins). Whatever the stimulant – Rose’s vocals certainly seem not to dissimilar to Jimi’s interpretation, and also compare the drumming – it turned out to be a claustrophobic affair which communicated the intensity of the lyrics: friends discussing a murder of passion.
Also recorded by: Swamp Rats (1966), The Cryan’ Shames (1966), The Surfaris (1966), The Standells (1966), The Byrds (1966), Love (1966), The Shadows of Knight (October 1966), The Music Machine (1966), Cher (1967), Tim Rose (1967), Johnny Hallyday (1967), Marto (1967), Johnny Rivers (1968), Marmalade (1968), The Mothers of Invention (as a satire titled Flower Punk in 1968), King Curtis (1968), Deep Purple (1968), Wilson Pickett (1969), Fever Tree (1970), Les Humphries Singers (1971), Roy Buchanan (1973), Patti Smith (1974), Alvin Lee (1979), “Weird Al” Yankovic (1984), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986), Seal (1991), The Offspring (1991), Willy DeVille (1992), Buckwheat Zydeco (1992), Paul Gilbert (1992), Reddog (1992), Eddie Murphy (1993), Band of Joy (1996), The Hamsters (1996), Helge & The Firefuckers (1999), Medeski, Martin and Wood (2000), Roy Mette (2001), Popa Chubby (2001), Robert Plant (2002), Cassie Steele (2005), Gabe Dixon Band (2005) a.o.
Best version: Gotta be Jimi Hendrix’s