Wednesday 17 October 2012

Version City

For the first time in nearly three years, I have a deck set-up and I'm playing through my records, rediscovering forgotten gems and reacquainting myself with old favourites, such as these unlikely versions of 'The Surrey With the Fringe on Top'.

The Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune has been covered well and faithfully on many occasions over the years, by jazz artists such as Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal and Wes Montgomery, but I've mentioned before how much I enjoy a well chosen cover version that confounds expectations and these tunes fit that bill to a tee.

The first is indeed a jazz version, by Sonny Rollins, but not the sedate respectful run-through favoured by some of his previously mentioned contemporaries. It captures Rollins and drummer Philly Joe Jones duoing (or should that read duelling?) on a hard bop arrangement that twists and turns it's way to an exhausted conclusion. Genius.

Then there's Dennis Bovell (a.k.a. Blackbeard) - member of Matumbi, UK dub pioneer, creator of Lover's Rock and producer of such varied artists as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Fela Kuti, The Thompson Twins and Bananarama! He uses 'Surrey' as a starting point for 'Ska-Be-Doo-Za' from 1978's 'Strictly Dub Wize'. Absolutely inspired, but how did he get away with not giving Rodgers & Hammerstein a partial writing credit?


Anonymous said...

Both rather splendid. I love the way Rollins turns the tune inside out and upside down. As for Bovell - he's always good in my book. Looking forward to future Version City posts.

Old Pa's Corner said...

Both compleely different but no less good....if your pushing me I will go for the reggae version!

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