CLASSICS: RE-INTERPRETATIONS (SINGLES)

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Hi classic fans! How many of you were aware that the legendary Aretha Franklin had a sister? Yes she did! Google it!! Actually, she had 2 sisters. One named Carolyn Franklin, and other who is the focus of today’s article, is named Erma Franklin. She was an amazing performer in my opinion. Although Erma had been performing for more than 50 years, it appears she had very little albums to show for it. I discovered that Erma’s career was plagued by continued throat problems. Long story short, Erma was diagnosed with a form of throat cancer, and succumbed to her illness in 2002. During Erma’s brief album history, there were a couple of songs she did I really liked. One of them was called “Piece Of My Heart,” released in 1967, recorded under Sony Records. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many versions of this song I’ve heard. However, this song is not an easy song to sing; it’s almost as though the song belongs to someone with a “rock voice,” such as the late legendary Janis Joplin. Erma’s version of this song hit #10 on the R&B charts, and stayed relevant for about 14 weeks. You know, it’s interesting, I naturally thought that since Erma was Aretha’s sister that she would somewhat sound like Aretha? But she does not at all. However, when she sings certain vowels, like her A’s you can hear some Aretha. She actually sounds more like a young Cissy Houston in my opinion. Another Awesome song she sung was “Never Again.”



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Ok, ok. I know I’ve posted a song from Nancy almost two months ago, but I love this song so much, plus Nancy is such an awesome singer I just had to post it. It was released in 1970, and it was from her album called “Now I’m A Woman.” The song is called “Make It With You.” The song was written by a guy named David Gates, who has been lead singer on a few occasions, for one of my favorite bands called “Bread.” Nancy’s version is so different, it took me a few seconds to realize it was a remake. Like I’ve said before, I am extremely picky when it comes to remakes; especially when it comes to women singing very famous male songs; or men singing very famous female songs. In my opinion, it’s kind of like singing “standards.” When you’re performing someone else work, you’re either going to singing it really really good, or really really bad. I can’t seem to find any chart information for this song, which more likely means it simply wasn’t promoted. But I absolutely loved her version. This is a kind of song you’d enjoy listening to on a very sunny morning, looking outside your window, and drinking coffee.



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Wow, another great group forgotten about. In 1967, Ritchie Cordell written a song called “I Think We’re Alone Now” for the group Tommy James & The Shondells. The song was an instant hit, reaching #4 on the Top 100 chart! But then, a 16 year old Tiffany reinterpreted their song “I Think We’re Alone Now” in 1987, and it shot to #1 and stayed on the Top 100 for 24 weeks. Now, believe it or not, I really liked Tiffany’s version a lot. It’s one of those “innocent, teenage love songs.” However, one pattern I’ve seen time and time again with music labels. It seemed as though, each time they wanted to “promote new talent,” they often have them sing songs that were already hits!  I always have to question myself, if you always have to sing someone else’s hits (as a new up and coming artist), are you really talented? Fortunately for Tiffany I think she was. But at the same time, this is why parents should get involved and expose their children to different music. ‘Cause while they think they’re listening to “new stuff,” in reality much of them are recycled. Tommy James & The Shondells also has a few more favorites of mine you may remember, “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

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Many of my long time readers my know, I adore Bette Midler. I think she is an incredibly talented actress and singer. She has done both film and Broadway, both comedy and serious roles. She’s done it all. One of my most favorite songs of all-time by Bette, is a song she has re-interpreted called “Do You Want To Dance,” and it was released in 1972. The song was originally written and performed by legendary Bobby Freeman in 1958. Out of all the many versions, in my opinion, Bette’s re-interpretation of the song is best. Although I still love Bobby’s original version; maybe I shouldn’t compare them, because technically the two of them are very different. Bobby’s version was meant to rock the dance floor, whereas Bette’s version is more for a romantic and private evening with her man. It blows my mind how an artist can take the same exact song, and transform it in to not only something entirely different, but change the entire mood too. Amazing!!!!

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This is another great album I have, which I hadn’t listened to in a very long time. The sounds of Temprees, are comparable to “The Blue Magic.”  My most favorite song from this Temprees album is called “Dedicated To The One I Love,” which was released in 1972. I feel that performed this song beauitifully, however it only peaked at #93, and stayed on the charts for only two weeks. What a shame. However, what I find really interesting to note was that, “The 5 Royales” first recorded “Dedicated To The One I love,”  in 1958, and only peaked at #81. Then the song was recorded by “The the Shirelles,” and their version of “Dedicated To The One I Love,” peaked at #83 in 1959. Then The Shirelles changed the song entirely and re-released the song in 1961, and “Dedicated To The One I love” risen to number #3, and stayed on the pop charts for 20 weeks. Finally, “The Mamas & The Papas” released their version of “Dedicated To The One I love” in 1967, and the song peaked at #2, and stayed on the charts for 10 weeks. Why did I find this interesting? All of these versions were released closely to each other in only about a 11 year span, and people had totally different reactions to different versions of the same song. It was almost as if they’re saying, “which one of use will have the biggest hit?” Personally, I love them all equally.

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I don’t know why this song popped in to my head yesterday. I remember playing this song a lot, you couldn’t play this and not dance. I’m not sure the year this song came out; their greatest hits album with this song in it was released in 2008, but I think “Sopa De Caracol” came out in early 1990? I’m having a hard time pinpointing a date, because it seemed like EVERY single Spanish group had a version of this song out. I’m not even sure who recorded it first. However, this is one of the best versions I remember hearing back in the day. You know, I love this song because it reminded me of an era when music was actually fun. Actually, it was also a fun time when both Spanish and people from the island were really connected to their culture. This was evident in the music, because Americans normally don’t write songs about food, unless they are making fun of themselves or someone else, ie, “Weird Al Yankolvic.” The band “Los Fabulosos Cadillacs” is from Argentina, and has a lot of great danceable hits.

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santana

You know, I’ve probably said this before but; it is my opinion that some of the most beautiful music in the world comes from Spain/Mexico. I say this as a person who has an affinity to music, and as someone who has always been exposed to many many types genres. There are quite a few old school music that comes from Spain, that are so beautiful to listen to, you don’t need to understand a single word the performer is singing, just because the emotion in the music is often enough to understand. I’m particularly attracted to guitar compositions. I’ve heard music from Spain that are so beautiful, it can make you cry. On this post, I’d like to focus on my most favorite Carlos Santana music composition ever. It’s called “Europa.” It’s a combination of music from classic Spain and American soft rock.

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Many, many artists have reinterpreted Santana’s Europa, and I’d like to share with you some of my favorites with you. The first beautiful interpretation of Europa is from Guitar Romantica, and the album is called “Beyond Borders.” Second musical interpretation of Europa is from an album called “Panorama: Trumpet Prism,” and the composer is Vaughn Nark. And the third interpretation of Europa I like is from an album called “Soft Sexy Jazz,” unfortunately, the only thing in the artist description is “Various Artists.” So, I’m going to assume that this album is a collaboration of lesser known artists. These guys deserve a lot of credit, because they’ve done a wonderful job. Actually, you should check out the entire album, most of them are pretty good. I think you’ll like their interpretations of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” The last interpretation of Europa I like is a very mellow flute composition, from a guy named Bradley Leighton, and the album is called “”Just Doin’ Our Thang.” There are many other interpretations out there, and I encourage you to find them.

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