Following up on my “White singers, black songs” list from two weeks ago, here is the flip side. (Click the song titles to hear these tracks on my Vox audio stash.)
1. “Miss You” – Etta James
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started out worshipping black music, so it only makes sense for black artists to cover them. Except it doesn’t happen much.
Etta James slows down the groove of this Rolling Stones smash to make it her own.
From her 2000 CD “Matriarch of the Blues.” Downloadable from iTunes.
2. “Never Been to Spain” – Ike & Tina Turner
Hoyt Axton wrote it; Three Dog Night scored big with it; Ike and Tina put their funky drawers in it, stirred it around, and made it right nasty.
From the compilation CD “Absolutely the Best.” Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.
3. “Ring of Fire” – Grace Jones
I dug this track so much, I wrote it into an episode of “ER,” booming out of Dr. Weaver’s home stereo. (Here’s that scene.)
Written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, “Ring of Fire” became the biggest single of Johnny Cash’s career. Here, it’s chopped and channeled by one of the best studio bands of all times.
From the double-CD “Private Life – The Compass Point Sessions.” Downloadable from iTunes.
4. “Dreams” – Black Shakespeare (feat. Charlie Charles)
You might not know this Fleetwood Mac hit from the title, but you’re bound to recognize the melody, written by Stevie Nicks. Black Shakespeare is an L.A. reggae band, and this track is smooth and tasty as hell.
Available on the Ubiquity label’s “Rewind! 5” compilation. Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.
5. “And When I Die” – Sweet Honey in the Rock
Laura Nyro wrote it; Blood, Sweat & Tears scored big with it; Bernice Johnson Reagon and the rest of these bad sisters took it to a whole new place.
From the 1997 tribute CD “Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro.”