Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Dr. Robert”: Cover Version Hall of Fame?

It is the mark of a true artist when he or she can take someone else’s song and transform it into something else entirely, to the point of making the new version almost unrecognizable.  Stevie Wonder’s 1973 version of “We Can Work It Out,” for example, begins with a funky clavinet riff whose boldness and originality immediately sets it apart from The Beatles’ 1965 single.  An even better example of taking someone’s else tune and completely making it their own is Earth, Wind & Fire’s stellar arrangement of The Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” – a radio highlight of the summer of 1978.

Speaking of The Fab Four, those of you who lived outside Cincinnati during the 1980s have been sadly deprived of a Beatles cover version so original and inspired that it instantly merited inclusion in an exalted, exclusive group — a Cover Version Hall of Fame, if you will — once it was broadcast on public television in 1980 as part of a local talent series called Rock Around the Block.  Fortunately, some kind soul has made this amazing musical moment by Cincinnati’s finest – The Raisins – available to the rest of the world so that your life will now be complete:

Interesting to note that guitarist Rob Fetters would reprise his classic ‘Dr. Robert’ riff for “Mattress,” the kick-off track to 1995’s Awkwardsville album by psychodots, a group whose personnel include former Raisins, Bob Nyswonger and Chris Arduser (click here to view the promotional video).

I would love to know from others:  are there any rearrangements whose uniqueness and freshness of perspective would qualify for inclusion in this presumptive Cover Version Hall of Fame?

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