Sunday, March 16, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Part Seven -- No Guilt Cover Version

Today we take up the suggestion of another member of the Boots On crew, the estimable Right Hook, who suggested a feature on cover versions. An excellent suggestion and this particular one will provide multiple choices.

One thing to note - there's nothing in this collection that would be considered a "guilty pleasure." We're talking about some of the best and most important acts in the history of rock. What's interesting about these covers is how the varying artistic sensibilities change the songs, sometimes radically. Okay, that's enough rock-crit jargon. Let's just get to the music:

First, we look at a song from perhaps the greatest male soul singer of the 1960s, Otis Redding. Besides being a great singer, Redding was an excellent songwriter. While he is best remembered for his posthumous classic "Dock of the Bay," one of his greatest songs is "Respect." His performance was great, but the cover is more famous, done by perhaps the greatest female singer in any rock-related idiom, Aretha Franklin. When Redding heard Franklin's version, he simply smiled and said "That girl done stole my song." Indeed. But we'll turn it over to you:

First, from a performance only days before his death, Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays singing "Respect" with a bonus Spanish lesson in the subtitles.

Then, Lady Soul with her eternal classic, "Respect," in a strange video that includes what I think is an old SNL bit or something after; you can (and probably should) ignore the last 2-3 minutes of this after the song is done.

Vote two: three versions of the same song, all by major artists, all classics in their own way, but very different.

First, the jaunty original of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," by Gladys Knight & the Pips, from a 1972 performance that features some serious Pip action and a truly appalling dress on the divine Ms. Knight, along with more stage patter than is probably necessary.

Second, the eternal classic version from of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," by Marvin Gaye. The video presentation here is homemade and pretty minimal, but the song stands out. And since we are still using Chicago election rules, Mrs. D has already cast 10,465 votes for this version. I'm guessing the others are playing for second place.

Third, the Grapevine gets the swamp rock treatment in this version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, with some vintage picking from John Fogerty.

Finally, we look at how artistic vision can change everything. These last two are pretty much self-explanatory.

First, from a 1976 performance in Edinburgh, Sir Elton John performing a simple, elegant version of his 1972 hit, "Rocket Man."

Finally, from a 1978 performance at the Science Fiction Film Awards, we have the classic interpretation of "Rocket Man" by America's greatest living conceptual artist, William Shatner.

Cast your votes!


Right Hook said...

Aretha - yes she done stole it and done stole it good.

CCR - these boys can play!

Shatner - There is also a "Family Guy" cartoon parody of Shatner's performance that is pretty cool.

Uncle Ben said...

I'm more accustomed to hearing the CCR version off of Cosmo's Factory (I think) since I had their albums, but I was reminded what a great voice Marvin Gaye had. I'll have to go with Marvin on this one.

I could only stomach a few seconds of Shatner before becoming violently ill on my keyboard. Thanks a lot. My vote is for Elton.

Paulie said...

Aretha could make Gregorian Chant sound cool. She surely did it with Respect. And she beats out the Monona Bay resident hands down.

CCR period.

Elton John is the only person who should ever sing Rocket Man. I've tried it at karaoke bars all over the Midwest and one on the west coast (please, don't ask.) I can't do it justice and if there were true justice Shatner would never sing in public again. I'll make him a deal. If he doesn't sing then I won't either. I fear my karaoke kareer ain't over yet.

Mark said...

See, where you're confused is that you think Shatner is singing. He's not singing. He's waaaay beyond singing.

I'd have paid cash money to see you attempt Rocket Man, Paulie. Reminds me of what Martin Scorsese said in "Taxi Driver" -- that, you should see.

Gino said...

marvin gaye does it best. much much better kind best.

aretha wins over otis.

and like paulie said, only elton john should be allowed to sing that song.

Strolling Amok said...

I'm leaving Shatner out of the competition. His Rocketman is a sui generis cultural artifact that simply can't be compared to other things - like the Mona Lisa or the Star Wars Christmas Special.
Of the rest Marvin Gaye edges Aretha by a whisker.