Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Music Wednesday: Don't let me be misunderstood.

Introducing young geeks to good music is among missions I set for my community. FB page gets spiced up with some good oldies regularly but that's not enough for NeoYojik. Last week I had to be in hell place with zero Internet; quite brainwashing experience. After couple days I regained ability to think and came up with idea of how to put my music taste into use for your joy. There are dozens songs that became hits more than once, being remade by many artists these engenius melodies kept high level of awesomeness and entertained many generations of audience. If this post gets good feedback, I'm gonna tell about one such song once 1-2 weeks.
Read full story of precious song.

Picking first song to describe was tough task. I was tearing myself between several Rock'n'Roll hits, some Beatles' songs and hard rock loudest creations. Song needs to be well known, beautiful, performed by stars and, above all, I need to like it. Yesterday while driving with radio on I heard a tiny piece by Animals. Decision was instant, it will be "Don't let me be misunderstood".
Animals have 2 great, platinum, hits: "House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me be Misunderstood". To be fair, both aren't originally their but are best kind of remake. The kind when remake becomes "main" version in audience's minds. Release in 1965 was instant hit and still is among 3 most well-known versions. Eric Burdon's deep voice and lots of drama in lyrics, seasoned with original guitar chords are highway to fame. The very this version is most copied one. Interesting fact: every next record, Animals made of "Don't let me be misunderstood" had deeper voice and sharper guitars.

"Don't let me be misunderstood" is marvelous creation of  Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus. Originally made for Nina Simone. She's blues Diva with extremely low, manly voice, weird piano playing and creative approach to rythm. You can imagine there is nothing in common between her and Animals versions. Hard to believe - she released hers just a year prior to Animals. While original isn't as renown, as remakes, some loyal fans, including myself, consider it to be best among tens of remakes. There will be total 13 versions mentioned today.
Speaking or rythm, do you recognize genre? "Don't let me be misunderstood" is not classical blues, neither it is ballad. Song itself has NO genre, it only gets one from performer. Need proof? Check out these 2: reggae and oriental dancing music.
Reggae rythm is so obvious that it's just miracle that so few noticed it. Ray Darwin did this beach infused creation. Composition lacks weed a bit, don't you think so? On the other hand song is pure Latin Arabic. Don't gasp at me, there is such genre. For your interest: Alabina, stated in melody tytle, isn't singer name, it's project by Ishatar in collaboration with Los Ninos de Sara. Was popular in Spain back in 90s.

One needs strong guts to do jazz out of rock when rock version is still fresh and absolute success. Julie Driscoll done her "Don't let me be missunderstood' in just 3 years after Animals. Interesting fact: it's said, Nina Simone considered this performance vulgar, said Julie neglected song's drama in fave of showing voice and musicians' skills. Should agree with Diva, I don't hear confession here either. Vocal and bravery deserve mention though.
They say there can only be one King. Posessing this tytle Elvis Presley doesn't have exclusive rights on his name. Elvis Castello, almost well known singer from 80s, managed to find his audience and mention in this article. His voice has nothing to talk about - it's plain weak. Instead of compensating it by music, he exagerrated impression of weakness by playing those Animals' signature chords on xylophone. I mean O_O I had such instrument being toddler. Crawled from under the bed, did my noise and escaped back into Narnia. (follow link, since embedding is disabled by uploader).

No matter ultimate versatility hidden in melody majority remakes were hard rock. For example, Gary Moore in his rock period did his remake. In 84 he speeds "Don't let me be misunderstood" up, add yelling and excludes drama. Now, instead of soul torments, we have great song by man who just hit toe on table leg.
Punk star Cyndi Lauper, the one beloved by early MTV, done her version of this marvelous song. You might expect punk gal to do much yelling, plenty drums and anarchy. You're wrong. She felt lyrics up to the tiniest words, she cries it and makes you cry with her. Performance is almost a capella, supported by occasional piano . Need to confess, I never heard Cyndi's singing before researching for this article. It might become my favorite remake when fully digested.
Joe Cocker is king of remakes. He takes second rate hit, makes it better and keeps it his own. He done 3 versions of "Don't let me be misunderstood". THREE. In different genres and level of drama. For example latest one is reggae, made in 90s.
Telling about this song and not mentioning Santa Esmeralda would be a crime. They just tortured, murdered "Don't let me be miunderstood". Doing it in such a perverted manner that song got into disco Hall of Fame. Two version with same voice exist: 70s and for Kill Bill movie. Here is former.
Following Santa Esmeralda's success many minor disco bands done remakes but those don't deserve mention. I'll show other dancing version: by Mick Harren. Got no idea who he is but dance floor might burn under him.

To get additional information about authors and more complete list of remakes turn to't_Let_Me_Be_Misunderstood and YouTube search.

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