Here are some worthwhile covers.
First up, Odetta singing the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations.” I love Odetta’s deep, searching voice, and it’s nice to hear her singing pop music instead of folk and blues. The record I took this from, Odetta Sings (1970), has her covering the songs of Elton John, Randy Newman, and Paul McCartney, among others. A lot of critics didn’t like this turn in Odetta’s career; maybe I have bad taste, but I think it’s great stuff. I’ll also post one of her own compositions from Odetta Sings that’s a real hip-shaker.
I can’t resist The Pointer Sisters covering Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work.” It really almost doesn’t work. From their 1978 record Energy. This is the first abum where they hooked up with the super-producer Richard Perry, who was responsible for their later hits “Automatic”, “I’m So Excited”, and “Jump,” as well as a multitude of great jams for other artists (do you love El Debarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” as much as I do?).
Here’s the Pointer Sisters’ first hit, a cover of the Lee Dorsey song. Has Obama used this yet for his campaign?
I was bummed out when June Pointer died from cancer in 2006. She had struggled with drug addiction for most of her career and was eventually kicked out of the group. My young self couldn’t take my eyes off of her, she was so energetic. Check her out singing lead in the “Jump” video, she can barely contain herself. I love the gap in her teeth, and her sleepy brown eyes. I bet she was really fun to hang out with. I’m guessing her drug of choice was cocaine. Whoever directed this thought it would be cool to intercut a track star performing various jumps during the chorus, which is kind of corny.
The Treacherous Three did a really epic rap cover of “Yes We Can Can” in 1984. I think that’s Kool Moe Dee in the middle, but it’s hard to tell since he was always concealed behind wrap-around Porsche sunglasses during his solo career.
I used to have the 12″ of Kool Moe Dee’s “Go See the Doctor,” which was one of many rap songs advocating safe sex in the age of AIDS. Here he’s suggesting both partners get tested first for V.D. before getting down. Why not suggest wearing a jimmy cap? Maybe he just wasn’t into condoms. Be forewarned, Kool Moe Dee raps about pus on his penis.
I was fortunate enough to see Ronnie Spector sing at the McCarren Pool here in Brooklyn last weekend. I’ve always dug her cover of the Johnny Thunders song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” which is all about being a junkie. She recorded the song for the album She Talks to Rainbows with Joey Ramone right before he died. When she sang it at the pool I almost cried.
I can’t believe Phil Spector threatened her by keeping a gold coffin with a glass lid in their basement, telling her she’d end up it in if she left him. Making her watch Citizen Kane repeatedly wasn’t cool either.
Here’s her singing Johnny Thunders.
And the original.
Finally, a live cover of Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” from when Johnny Thunders collaborated with Wayne Kramer under the moniker Gang War.