Friday, November 23, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Ring-a-Ding-Ding Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to join outgoing Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend at a tribute to the President hosted by the You Are Such a Man Foundation. Not exactly sure what the occasion is, but I think it has something to do with Washington's Birthday.

So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Rock Era Version of a Pre-Rock Pop Standard!!!
You know -- the most surprising, the most original, the most faithful, the most ironic...however you define it.

Okay -- here's my reasonably well considered Top Ten.

10. Elvis Costello - My Funny Valentine

9. Billy Stewart -- Summertime

8. Big Brother and the Holding Company -- Summertime

7. The Fifth Estate -- Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead

6. The Platters -- Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

5. The Flamingos -- I Only Have Eyes For You

4. The Four Seasons -- I've Got You Under My Skin

3. The Beatles -- Till There Was You

2. Eva Cassidy -- Over the Rainbow

[I should note that I agonized over making this one Number One -- partly because Cassidy died so tragically young, but mostly because there are times I think she may well have been the single greatest pop singer in any of our lifetimes. Nevertheless -- largely because of the harmonies and the barely discernible but delicious irony of it .....]

...the number one all time best cover is --

1. The Byrds -- We'll Meet Again.

Honorable mention (no video available): Joe Piscopo's heavy metal version of Sinatra's "Witchcraft" with Great White.

Okay -- what are your faves?


Anonymous said...

I've been mastering 'Something Stupid.' I'll get back to you when I've got a video!

steve simels said...


I will so post that!!!

Anonymous said...

I've got:

Try A Little Tenderness" - Otis Redding

Mack The Knife - Bobby Darin

Blue Moon - Elvis Presley (this just may barely qualify)

Lost In The Stars - Elvis Costello with the Brodsky Quartet

Dream A Little Dream - Cass Elliott

Lullaby Of Broadway - Bram Tchaikovsky (no video, but trust me, it's a corker)

NYMary said...

I cannot believe this wasn't first outta the box (or that steve forgot it)...

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)!

Also, and there's not a youtube, but Phranc, the Jewish lesbian folksinger, did a kickass version of "I Enjoy Being a Girl."

Anonymous said...

I've always liked Rundgren's version of "Never Never Land" but Peter Pan opened in '54, so that may be outside the time limits. Nonetheless, it's a great version.

MBowen said...

One of my favorites is a fluke UK hit by Australian folkie Gary Shearston. His version of I Get A Kick Out Of You almost always manages to cheer me up; there's something about the mid-'70s pop-folk (over?)production that works for me.

I first heard it on this record, a label sampler with the price - 99 cents - printed on the album cover. Brit-rock, Brit-folk, Japanese jazz, bluegrass, experimental, African, Tibetan, Cajun - all for less than a buck.

The Humanist said...

"I'll See You In My Dreams" by Joe Brown

Anonymous said...

If girl group era counts as pre-rock, then

kd and the reclines, Johnny Get Angry:

if not, it's merely ironic.

see also:
Nirvana-Leadbelly's Where did you Sleep Last Night?

Rickie Lee Jones: One Hand/One Heart

Yo La Tengo-My Little Corner of the World (Gilmore Girls association notwithstanding)

steve simels said...

I can't believe I forgot Otis and
Bobby Darin....

And that Rickie Lee Jones is great...

The Kenosha Kid said...

Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson

Fools Rush In - Bow Wow Wow

John Hardy - Billy Childish & the Blackhands

Wild is the Wind - David Bowie

House of the Rising Sun - The Animals

I'm Henry VIII I Am - Herman's Hermits

Death Don't Have No Mercy - Hot Tuna

Death Don't Have No Mercy - Grateful Dead

The Thrill is Gone - Jerry Garcia & David Grisman

Shine on Harvest Moon - Leon Redbone

Anonymous said...

Oh, there's all kinds of this stuff scattered across various tribute albums. I adore "Stay Awake" - particularly NRBQ's "Whistle While You Work" and Tom Waits" "Heigh-Ho."

"Miss Otis Regrets/Just One of Those Things" - Kirstie MacColl & Les Pogues, from "Red, Hot, and Blue."

And - God help me - I REALLY like Lou Reed's "September Song," from "Lost in the Stars."
- bill buckner

steve simels said...

The Kenosha Kid said...

Moor proof that Steve is a Friend of Dorothy?

Okay, your No-Prize is on its way.

Incidentally, I was gonna include the Ricky Nelson "Fools Rush In" but I had posted the video earlier for the hot guitar licks list.

Also -- "House of the Rising Sun" is a folk song, not a pop standard, as are some of the others you listed.

BTW -- Bow Wow Wow did "Fools" too?


Anonymous said...

OMG - How could I forget "Danny Boy" by Elvis Fucking Presley? :)

Anonymous said...

Zombies - Summertime (might as well add a third version)

Marcels - Blue Moon

Dion & the Belmonts - Where or When

George Harrison - True Love
George Harrison - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
(with Baltimore Oriole and Hong Kong Blues also under his belt, he should have released an album of pop standard covers)

Flamin' Groovies - Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime

Beatles - Red Sails in the Sunset


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and Rolling Stones - Route 66


steve simels said...


The Marcels and Dion were my next two choices.

And I think the Zombies "Summertime" is the definitive version by anybody.

And Route 66 is another great call -- I forgot that was written in the 40s...

Anonymous said...

Capt. Sensible: Nobody's Sweetheart

Lou Reed: One for My Baby (from Rob Wasserman's album 'Duets')

and for complete-lack-of- faithfulness (even though it's a cover of a '59 song, but then "Till There was You is from '57) ...

Bonzo Dog Band: "The Sound of Music" off of 'Gorilla'

Unknown said...

Syd Straw: Hard Times

Fairport Convention: Matty Groves

TJWood said...

Steve gave us one in this list for Eva Cassidy, I'll add two more: "What a Wonderful World" and "God Bless The Child". (I'll leave it to others to nominate the Joey Ramone version of the former). Really, one of the best singers you'll hear in any musical genre--her voice reportedly brought Ozzy Osbourne to tears when he heard it.

TJWood said...

Also: Can't argue with your choice of the Byrds cover as your number 1, but I checked the video, and what song are they actually playing? Because it doesn't sync up with "We'll Meet Again"

steve simels said...

I know the Byrds aren't synched...I didn't care. I just wanted the audio...

Anonymous said...

"What a Wonderful World"... (I'll leave it to others to nominate the Joey Ramone version of the former).

Completely forgot about that one. I know I've said it before, but hearing that song sung by someone who knew his days were numbered never fails to give me a lift.


Charlemange said...

The 4 Seasons one is one of my favorites as well. It's just great!