Thursday, July 5, 2012

Versions Galore 4th Anniversary Guest Mix #1 By Marco On The Bass!

As the late, great John Peel once said, "I know loads of cover versions that are regarded as being better than the original." Its a sentiment that I ascribe to whole heartedly, and one that my fellow music blogger Leopold Stotch, of the excellent Versions Galore has dedicated his time and passion to celebrating.  His blog remains one of the first I visit each day for its incredibly diverse and eclectic batch of the best and most interesting cover versions you will ever hear.  Even better, Stotch regularly posts fantastic reggae, ska, dub and rocksteady cover versions of songs that often surpass the originals in soul, musicianship and danceability.

Stotch is marking the four year anniversary of Versions Galore this week by inviting a number of guest bloggers to submit cover mixes.  I'm honored and excited that he asked me to submit a mix of some of my favorite cover versions and that he selected it as the first mix to be posted.

Here is a link to the mix: Versions Galore 4th Anniversary Guest Mix #1: Marco On The Bass 

Below is a little bit about each cover song in the mix:

The Back Stabbers – The Professionals
Belize’s The Professionals morph The O’Jays 1972 Top 10 Philly Soul hit “Backstabbers into horn-drenched reggae that retains its ominous warning.

Baltimore – The Tamlins
The Tamlins were a 70’s Jamaican reggae vocal group that gained wide attention for their Sly and Robbie produced dub reggae version of the Nina Simone lament about inner city life in Baltimore

Heart-Shaped Box – Little Roy
Aging Reggae lifer Little Roy (with help from UK producer King Fatty) finds the sweet humanity hidden inside one of Kurt Cobain’s darkest songs making it bob and weave its way into your memory.

You’ll Never Find – Dub Pistols
U.K. reggae/club collective Dub Pistols pay homage to John Holt’s reggae cover of Lou Rawls 1976 R&B hit by sampling Rawls singing the memorable chorus and Holt’s killer bass line.

Cupid – Amy Winehouse
Ska aficionado and noted Specials fan Winehouse recorded a soulful rock steady version of the Sam Cooke classic that mines its sadness while remaining eminently danceable.

It’s a Shame – Alton Ellis
The Stevie Wonder penned Motown hit for The Spinners, about a man who complains about a lover “messin” around on him, was memorably covered by Jamaican reggae and rock steady innovator Alton Ellis in 1971.

Sugar Sugar – Bigger Thomas
Long running New Jersey ska and reggae band recorded a poppy dub/reggae version of the 1969 hit recorded by the fictional TV show band The Archies. Ron Parker, the Father of Bigger Thomas guitarist Steve Parker was in the studio band that recorded the original providing a perfect musical symmetry.

Cecilia – Suggs
Madness lead singer Suggs recorded a Sly & Robbie produced pop reggae version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, which pays homage to St Cecilia, patron saint of music.

Golden Years – Special Beat
Early 90’s 2-Tone ska super group Special Beat, featuring Ranking Roger of The Beat and Neville Staple, Horace Panter and Lynval Golding of The Specials recorded this never before released ska demo version of David Bowie’s hit from the Station to Station LP.

Orgasm Addict – SKAndalous All-Stars
The SKAndalous All-Stars were a late 90’s U.S. ska super group featuring members of The Slackers, The Skatalites, Mephiskapheles and Stubborn All-Stars who recorded an albums worth of 3rd wave ska covers of punk classics including Buzzcock’s paean to onaism.

Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) – Los De Abajo
Mexico City-based Latin ska band Los Del Abajo recorded Spanish and English language versions of the Fun Boy Three track featuring a guest appearance from Specials and Fun Boy Three front man Neville Staple.

Strawberry Fields – Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Argentine ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs recorded a 60’s styled Jamaican ska version of The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” sung in English and Spanish that features Blondie’s Debbie Harry as well as horn lines worthy of The Skatalites.

Tu Gotnisht (Do Nothing) – King Django
New York ska legend and trombonist King Django (The Boilers, Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars) recorded an all Yiddish-language album of klezmer meets ska and reggae songs including this faithful cover of The Specials “Do Nothing”.

Fast Car – Wayne Wonder
Jamaican vocalist Wayne Wonder puts a Dancehall reggae spin on Tracy Chapman’s narrative tale of generational poverty.

For The Turnstiles – Bim Skala Bim
Boston’s Bim Skala Bim, who were one of the first American ska bands to emerge in the early 80’s, recorded a sublimely soulful reggae version of Neil Young’s rocker.

Live And Let Die – Byron Lee
Jamaican music pioneer, producer and leader of The Dragonaires was a fan of The Beatles, recording reggae versions of many of their most popular tracks. He later recorded this incredibly soulful version of Paul McCartney & Wings theme song for the James Bond movie of the same name.

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – The Ska-Dows
The Ska-Dows were one of the many U.K. ska bands that sprouted in the wake of the 2-Tone explosion. Signed by Chas Chandler, bassist of The Animals to his Cheapskates Record label in the late 70’s, the band recorded a rollicking ska version of The Animals hit from 1965.

Happy 4th Birthday Versions Galore!

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