1. Chuck Jackson – ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ (1962)
So many versions – far too many for me to trawl through – but Chuck’s smoky, late night cabaret effort must be among the best.
2. Link Wray and the Ray Men – ‘Girl From The North Country’ (1965)
Chain rattling, looping, woozy harp version of the Dylan song. Bob, for his part, adopted the melody after hearing Martin Carthy’s arrangement of (pre-Paul Simon) ‘Scarborough Fair’ and releases 30 new covers this Friday on his Triplicate triple album.
3. The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One – ‘The Monkey Time’ (1965)
The Curtis Mayfield's Major Lance song given a swinging party feel and driven along by the vibes of Joe De Aguero and piano of Bill Henderson. Think Ramsey Lewis, Young-Holt Unlimited or even, a bit, MJQ.
4. Angelica Maria – ‘Cansada De Esperar’ (1965)
Mexican ‘Tired of Waiting’. Sounds like it was recorded in a kitchen. If, like me, you’ve never heard of Angelica Maria she’s apparently such a humongous star of stage, screen and music that when she married Venezuelan singer/comedian Raúl Vale in 1975 it was the first wedding to be televised in Mexico. They divorced in 1988. None of this is relevant. Enjoy the song.
5. The Soul Mates – ‘Too Late To Say You’re Sorry’ (1965)
Not a cover but as Darlene Love cut a version around the same time it sounds like one. When released on Chicago’s Marina Records the label proudly boasted ‘Recorded in Great Britain’ and ‘With Orchestra Conducted by Norman Smith’, he later of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn fame. It’s all very British, very Dusty Springfield and very good.
6. Joe Williams – ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’ (1966)
As his early albums show Marvin Gaye always fancied himself as a jazz crooner so I can imagine he’d have approved of the big band treatment afforded here on Presenting Joe Williams and Thad Jones with the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. ‘Woman’s Got Soul’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’ and ‘Get Out My Life Woman’ and more also tackled the same way.
7. Downliners Sect – ‘Glendora’ (1966)
The Sect brutalise poor old Perry Como behind the lingerie department. That said, I do love Como’s original and it’s even more bizarre hearing him sing about falling in love with a shop mannequin. Check out also the Billy Young version which came between these two.
8. Eddie Jefferson – ‘Filthy McNasty’ (1968)
It’s been hammered in clubs so much over the years I’d happily never listen to ‘Psychedelic Sally’ again. The rest of Jefferson’s Body and Soul is more than worth investigating as he adds his elasticated vocalese to numbers better known as instrumentals, including ‘So What’ and this Horace Silver classic given a humorous makeover.
9. Lloyd Price – ‘Feeling Good’ (1969)
Lloyd goes for a funky calypso tinged version of the Nina Simone standard.
10. Terry Callier – ‘And I Love Her’ (2004)
So intimate it feels like intruding just listening. Breath-taking.