Blue-in-Green:RADIO

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Blue-in-Green:RADIO's Top Covers [#20-11]


Welcome to Part Four of Blue-in-Green:RADIO's countdown of our top 50 covers of all time.  We're selecting tracks from a broad range of musical styles including soul, jazz, funk and R&B with the only rule that these covers have had to have been recorded post-2000.

The show will broadcast through the site from 6pmUK over the next four Tuesdays as we count down to number 1 and we'll aim to post the show and list on the site for the following day (so feel free to listen to Part Four at the bottom of this post).  We'd love for you to check out the list and the show and let us know what you think as we get closer to that #1 spot.

Part 1 [#50-41]
Part 2 [#40-31]
Part 3 [#30-21]
Part 5 [#10-1]

20. ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ by Takuya Kuroda (2014)
Originally performed by Roy Ayers Ubiquity, 1976
Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda delivers a 9+ minute reimagining of the oft-covered, oft-sampled classic by Roy Ayers on his debut album for Blue Note Records, which may be the most imaginative take on the song ever recorded.  Boasting an all-star line-up including Kris Bowers on piano/keys, Nate Smith on drums, Solomon Dorsey on bass and Jose James on vocals… a high slot for this song was always inevitable.

19. ‘Lose Yourself’ by Kellylee Evans (2013)
Originally performed by Eminem, 2002
Contemporary soul/jazz artists covering classic soul/jazz songs is somewhat commonplace but a contemporary soul/jazz singer – who counts Nina Simone amongst her musical heroes – covering Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ is that little more out of the box, and probably warrants inclusion on this list for that fact alone.  But then you hear it and that ‘A for effort’ becomes an ‘A for excellence’.

18. ‘No Church in the Wild’ by NEXT Collective featuring Christian Scott (2013)
Originally performed by Jay-Z & Kanye West, 2011
From the collective of musicians including Gerald Clayton, Kris Bowers, Logan Richardson, Ben Williams amongst others, their ‘Cover Art’ project boasted a number of wonderful covers including Little Dragon’s ‘Twice’ and N*E*R*D’s ‘Fly or Die’ – and as good as their version of Drake’s ‘Marvin’s Room’ was – it was their cover of Jay-Z & Kanye West’s opening number from their ‘Watch the Throne’ album (featuring the brilliant Christian Scott on trumpet) that was the clear winner.  Another truly out of the box gamble that payed off!

17. ‘Morning Sunrise’ by ZULUZULUU (2016)
Originally performed by Weldon Irvine, 1998
Mere months after releasing their groundbreaking and genre-defying debut album, ‘What’s The Price?’, ZULUZULUU followed up with a free-to-download collection of covers that really deserves your attention.  As close as their version of The Stylistics’ ‘People Make the World Go Round’ came to inclusion on this list, we had to give it up for Weldon Irvine’s ‘Morning Sunrise’.

16. ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Nick Pride & The Pimptones (2012)
Originally performed by Massive Attack featuring Shara Nelson, 1991
Originally released as a 12” in 2012, this cover of Massive Attack’s 90s seminal track – famous also for the one-take video – finally found a home on the Nick Pride & The Pimptones Bandcamp release ‘The Bootleg Project; in 2015.  Nick Pride & The Pimptones’ brilliant reimagining of this track with their distinctive funk & soul sensibilities had a place on this list before we even started this list.

15. ‘Tin Man’ by Incognito featuring Joy Rose (2006)
Originally performed by America, 1971
From the tirelessly prolific Incognito, this gem of a cover of America’s ‘Tin Man’ finds a home on Incognito’s cover project ‘Bees + Things + Flowers’ which includes interpretations of ‘Summer in the City’, ‘Always There’ and ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’.  All glorious stuff – of course it is, it’s Incognito! – but this 3+minute opening number is the clear winner here.

14. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Robert Glasper Experiment (2011)
Originally performed by Nirvana, 1991
So on paper, this cover reads as “contemporary jazz/fusion band covers 90s grunge rock anthem”.  Not a good sell on paper but listening to it… well it secured #14 on this list so it’s clearly fantastic!  From the debut project by the Robert Glasper Experiment, the album that also includes covers of tracks by Sade and David Bowie, won the Grammy for Best R&B Album in that year and was the album that turned Glasper into a household name.

13. ‘High and Dry’ by Pete Kuzma featuring Bilal (2006)
Originally performed by Radiohead, 1995
BBE Records undertook a mammoth project with ‘Exit Music’ in2006: a collection of covers of Radiohead songs reinterpreted through a variety of genres and styles from artists as diverse as Osunlade to Mark Ronson.  Pete Kuzma – fresh out of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s A Tough of Jazz production stable – hooked up with vocalist Bilal for an alt-jazzy version of the fan favourite, ‘High and Dry’.

12. ‘Good Enough’ by Nautilus featuring Sara Yoshida (2017)
Originally performed by Cyndi Lauper, 1985
DJ Oonops helmed the Agogo Records compilation of Nautilus b-sides and unreleased tracks in 2017, which in of itself serves as a great introduction to the Japanese jazz trio.  Amongst the gems assembled is the incredibally unexpected cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Good Enough’ which was more than good enough for inclusion on this list.
11. ‘Something’ by Snarky Puppy featuring Lalah Hathaway (2013)
Originally performed by Brenda Russell, 1983
This one feels like the song people would most have expected to see on this list.  From the first of the Texan fusion/jazz outfit’s series of collaborative live-recorded projects, ‘Family Dinner’ (which partners the band with a series of vocalists and musicians to recreate their own songs or to cover others), comes the stunning union with Lalah Hathaway.  Earning the collective a Grammy for R&B Performance in 2014, the success of the first ‘Family Dinner’ project propelled an even grander premise for volume 2 so fingers crossed the wait won’t be too long for volume 3.

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