12 September 2006

Slow versions

Sometimes you hear the original of a slow-burning song and find that it started out as something altogether peppier. The obvious example is Joe Cocker's revelatory version of With A Little Help From My Friends, which sounds just as convincing as a dramatic soul ballad as it does as the rhythmic kick-off to The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper.

Nothing prepared me, though, for Marvin Gaye's downright bouncy 1963 original of Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home). I'd already become attached to Paul Young's slow, haunting version from his 1983 album No Parlez.

In the same way, I'd got to know the 1924 Isham Jones-Gus Kahn song It Had To Be You through a slow version. It was on 'S Awful Nice (1958), an album by Ray Conniff, whose wordless-chorus-plus-brass arrangements were a big part of the soundtrack of our household when I was a kid in the late 50s and early 60s.

I heard enough slow arrangements of It Had To Be You to make me admire it in the same way as I admired Ray Noble's The Very Thought Of You, another slow, sweet and romantic song from songwriting's golden age.

I didn't hear Isham Jones's own recording of It Had To Be You until recently, and it turns out to be an upbeat Roaring 20s dance number in the vein of Tea For Two. For me it doesn't have the same allure as it does as a slow song.

It might depend on how you first hear a song, and I might need to soften my harsh opinion of jazzing it down.

1 comment:

Dave Overett said...

Revisiting some 60's tracks the other day and found one that might fit the "slowed down" bill. It was Peter Sellers version of "Hard Day's Night".
The only touble is that it is more a narration than an actual slow interpretation of the melody and words of this Beatles' standard. But it is slow.