2nd Anniversary Special! Cover Versions of #1s Part IV – Wanda Jackson & Marianne Faithful

It’s two years since I started this blog and I’m exactly 250 number ones in! To celebrate, I am doing a week-long special: cover versions of #1 singles! Whenever I write a post, I not only discover and enjoy the #1 singles, I also often discover and enjoy other recordings of these hit songs.

Our penultimate pair of covers are from two ladies, with two unique interpretations of two very well-known number ones…

‘Shakin’ All Over’, by Wanda Jackson (2011)

(Originally reached #1 in 1960, with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates)

A late career flourish for an artist who had been around since the fifties, when she released sparky rockabilly hits like ‘Fujiyama Mama’ and ‘Funnel of Love’. Like Mae West in yesterday’s post, Jackson was well into her seventies when she recorded this, but the voice is still there. And on guitar…? One Jack White.

‘Mack the Knife’, by Marianne Faithfull (1997)

(Originally hit #1 in 1959, with Bobby Darin)

Speaking of voices, how about Marianne Faithfull’s rasp on this version of the bloodiest #1. Bobby Darin’s version is canon, but it is quite jazzy and uplifting. This one is much more menacing, especially when Faithfull starts delivering the lines like a pantomime villain. The lyrics here are far more explicit and, apparently, much more faithful – pardon the pun – to the German original.

Last two tomorrow!

2nd Anniversary Special! Cover Versions of #1s Part III – Mae West

It’s two years since I started this blog and I’m exactly 250 number ones in! To celebrate, I am doing a week-long special: cover versions of #1 singles! Whenever I write a post, I not only discover and enjoy the #1 singles, I also often discover and enjoy other recordings of these hit songs.

Our next two covers come from a lady not best known for her recording career… the one and only Mae West. (Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see her…?)

way-out-west

‘Day Tripper’, by Mae West (1966)

(Originally reached #1 in 1965, with The Beatles.)

After spending decades scandalising and chucking saucy bon-mots around like confetti, the Queen of Camp turned to rock ‘n’ roll. Bear in mind that she was seventy-three when she recorded this… I love that she is now the ‘big teaser’, the one who only does one-night stands. And check out the scuzzy solo mid-way through, accompanied by some lascivious moans…

‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Mae West (1972)

(Originally reached #1 in 1958, with Jerry Lee Lewis.)

A few years later, she repeated the trick. This one isn’t so much a cover version as a re-imagining, with some ridiculous new lyrics:¬†My bells they ring when you shake that thing… Sung by a woman born in 1893. Both this album, and ‘Way Out West’ are surprisingly good, and not completely tongue in cheek. She also does a rocking version of ‘Shakin’ All Over’, and an outrageous re-write of ‘Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen’. I’ve gone for ‘Great Balls of Fire’, though…

All together now:¬†You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain, I just adore your sensational frame…

Phew. I’ll give you time to recover, and see you tomorrow for two more…

2nd Anniversary Special! Cover Versions of #1s Part II – Elvis & Little Richard

It’s two years since I started this blog and I’m exactly 250 number ones in! To celebrate, I am doing a week-long special: cover versions of #1 singles! Whenever I write a post, I not only discover and enjoy the #1 singles, I also often discover and enjoy other recordings of these hit songs.

Our next two covers are by two of the founding pillars of rock ‘n’ roll…

‘Such a Night’, by Elvis Presley (1960)

(Originally hit #1 in 1954, with Johnnie Ray)

I adore Johnnie Ray’s version of this, but Elvis’s version hits the spot just as nicely. Both singers get how sensual and sexy a song this is meant to be. Recorded for his ‘Elvis Is Back!’ album, ‘Such a Night’ is proof that Elvis could still kick it after being in the army. His voice is superb here, but just as brilliant is DJ Fontana on drums. It reached #13 in the UK when finally released in 1964.

‘Memories Are Made of This’, by Little Richard (1964)

(Originally hit #1 in 1956, with Dean Martin)

Deano crooned the life out of this, his only number one hit. Little Richard does not croon. He gives it the full treatment – it’s an experience similar, I’d imagine, to standing behind a 777 as it revs up. I’ve already covered how criminal it is that Little Richard never scored his own #1 single, and will take any chance going to bring him up! Enjoy…

Two more tomorrow…

2nd Anniversary Special! Cover Versions of #1s Part I – Joni Mitchell & Telex

It’s two years since I started this blog and I’m exactly 250 number ones in! To celebrate, I am doing a week-long special: cover versions of #1 singles! Whenever I write a post, I not only discover and enjoy the #1 singles, I also often discover and enjoy other recordings of these hit songs.

I’ve picked ten covers – two a day – of songs that have topped the charts earlier in our countdown. Some are brilliant, some are weird, some are by artists that we have met already in this countdown, others are by artists that will never get anywhere near the top the charts… Enjoy!

First up: two #1s from the 1950s, re-imagined two decades later.

‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’, by Joni Mitchell and The Persuasions (1980)

(Originally hit #1 in 1956, with Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers)

I have to admit I struggle with Joni Mitchell – to my shame – but this is lovely. It’s a live recording too, which adds something extra. The music is tight and upbeat, but Mitchell’s vocals show the heartache behind the lyrics. It got to #102 in the US, and didn’t chart in the UK.

‘Rock Around the Clock’, by Telex (1979)

(Originally hit #1 in 1955, with Bill Haley & His Comets)

Telex were a Belgian synth-pop group who deconstructed the single that some say kicked the whole rock ‘n’ roll shebang off. Is this amazing, or is it terrible? Or does it straddle perfectly¬†the fine line between the two…? It’s worth a watch simply for the lead-singer reading the paper mid-performance. This cover reached #34 in the UK, and Telex went on to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest, with a song titled ‘Eurovision’, and finished in 19th place.

Two more #1 cover versions tomorrow…