Isaac Hayes' ten-minute version of Walk On By
is at least as good as Dionne Warwick's original - and very different. It's intriguing to have a powerful, big-boned man making this rejected-woman lyric his own - and he still sounds dignified! Rich, lyrically intense, and a great display for Isaac's dark, velvet baritone.
Aretha Franklin's takes on The Long and Winding Road
and, especially, Elton John's Border Song
(both on Young, Gifted and Black
) outdo the originals. "Border Song" is breathtaking, but then it was written as a homage to the U.S. civil rights movement and with a gospel tone, so she was kind of "bringing it back home" here.
Aretha's own studio take isn't online, but there's a nice live duet between her and Elton here:Aretha FRANKLIN -"Border Song" (LIVE/1993)
Simple Minds did a better job with this: Street Hassle
than Lou Reed. Sure, Reed is a hero but the cropped, mumbling way of singing he began using around the time of the Street Hassle album makes his tracks unengaging sometimes, and his own ambitious version doesn't really make it for me. Jim Kerr is much better at bringing out the drama of the song (they only do part of the complex original structure, but vital parts) and the rich, echoing production and gleaming guitar and drums are amazing. Many songs try to sound and feel like a good fuck, this one achieves it, it recreates that floating, exuberant feeling (only fully appreciated on the actual record, not on Youtube).