Wednesday 2 May 2018

Blue-in-Green:RADIO's Top Covers [#30-21]

Welcome to Part Three 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 Two 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 4 [#20-11]
Part 5 [#10-1]

30. ‘Lay Away’ by Nigel Hall (2015)
Originally performed by The Isley Brothers, 1972
Although Nigel Hall had been incredibly busy with his band The Nth Power, touring and working with others like Soulive and Lettuce, it had been nine years in between his debut album and his sophomore release so ‘Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall’ was a more than welcome arrival.  Produced by Eric Krasno and featuring a long list of guest musicians throughout the project, this excellent recreation of The Isley Brothers’ song boasts a dream-team line-up including Krasno on guitar, Questlove on drums, Ivan Neville on Hammond organ and Dave Guy (The Dap-Kings) on trumpet.

29. ‘Love From the Sun’ by Nicola Conte featuring Jose James & Nailah Porter (2011)
Originally performed by Roy Ayers, 1973
There’s an unmistakable Midas touch that Italian producer and musician Nicola Conte possesses and his 2011 album ‘Love & Revolution’ is very possibly the demonstration of him at his best.  Amongst an album packed with lively, vibrant and exquisite sunshine-filled tunes is this gem with the inspired vocal pairing of Nailah Porter and Jose James.

28. ‘All That I Can Say’ by Gretchen Parlato (2011)
Originally performed by Mary J Blige, 1999
The beautiful honey-toned vocalist Gretchen Parlato breathed new life into this Mary J Blige track but instead of Lauryn Hill at the helm (as she was in the original), it’s Robert Glasper who helps steer the ship as album producer on ‘The Lost and Found’.  For this slot it may was a toss-up between this track and Parlato’s cover of ‘Holding Back the Years’ from the same album which is just as sublime.

27. ‘Night in Tunisia’ by Toshio Matsuura Group featuring Jose James (2007)
Originally performed by Dizzy Gillespie, 1942
From Japan’s exciting ‘Blue Note Street’ compilation project – featuring famed Japanese jazz acts tackling classic Blue Note compositions from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Hank Mobley and McCoy Tyner, Toshio Matsuura Group – with a little help from Jose James – soar with a wonderfully dynamic recreation of Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Night in Tunisia’.

26. ‘Funny How Time Flies’ by The Pollyseeds featuring Robert Glasper (2017)
Originally performed by Janet Jackson, 1986
The brainchild project of Terrace Martin, The Pollyseeds project recruited many of Martin’s friends and frequent collaborators including Rose Gold, Adam Turchin, Robert Searight, amongst others, throughout an all-encompassing journey into the worlds of R&B, hip-hop and jazz with the standout number being this cover of Janet Jackson’s ‘Funny How Time Flies’ featuring Robert Glasper.

25. ‘My World is Empty’ by Lee Fields & The Expressions (2009)
Originally performed by The Supremes, 1966
Backed by the super-group, The Expressions, consisting of a collection of musicians from The Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, Budos Band amongst others, Lee Fields has been a shining star for Truth & Soul Records with a stunning array of contemporary soul music releases.  Fields’s ‘My World’ album serves as a great introduction to fans unfamiliar with his music and this cover of The Supremes is a wonderful fit.

24. ‘Changes’ by Charles Bradley (2016)
Originally performed by Black Sabbath, 1972
Spike Lee’s documentary celebrating the music of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ album featured a comment that cited ‘Imagine’ as the song the world turned to following the death of Jon Lennon and ‘Man in the Mirror’ as the song people turned to following the death of Jackson; When Charles Bradley passed, ‘Changes’ was the song fans turned to in their grief.  The poignant timing of its release married to the lyrics that – although clearly not written by Bradley – reflect a life of his own hardships and pain.

23. ‘Open the Door’ by Stefania Dipierro (2016)
Originally performed by Betty Carter, 1964
From the bossa-tinged magic of ‘Love From the Sun’ (#29) to his sublime work with Stefania Dipierro on their collaborative effort ‘Natural’, the results are no less magical.  Conte’s production talents are put to expert use as he presents the debut album from Stefania Dipierro and thus extends his relationship with Far Out Recordings (the home of his Viagem series).  Dipierro flourishes over Conte’s compositions and the bossa-tinged rendition of Betty Carter’s ‘Open the Door’ is a clear standout.

22. ‘I Wanna Be Evil’ by Rene Marie (2013)
Originally performed by Eartha Kitt, 1953
Rene Marie’s charming tribute to the music of Eartha Kitt was released through Motema Records with songs lovingly recreated like ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, ‘Peel Me A Grape’ and ‘Come On-A My House’.  The big band sound of ‘I Wanna Be Evil’ tagged with the effortless swagger of its lyrics made the song an undeniable inclusion for this list.

21. ‘Loving You’ by Jesse Fischer featuring Sarah Elizabeth Charles (2015)
Originally performed by Minnie Riperton, 1974
Clearly you would rank this song as one of the impossible covers.  What Minnie Riperton does with this is what helped to cement her as one of soul music’s finest so how could anyone even consider tackling such an iconic song?!  Well, Jesse Fischer and Sarah Elizabeth Charles made such an impressive attempt that it secured them the number 21 spot on our greatest 21st century covers list.

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