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Summertime - and the living is easy

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10:20 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Inspired by the hot weather we're having - and long may it continue - I've just been playing a few different versions of that old classic "Summertime".

I recall reading somewhere years ago that it's one of the most recorded songs of all time with Lord knows how many versions done over the years. Of the dozen or so versions I must have in my collection there are a few that stand out. In particular:

Little Esther (Phillips). She does a marvellously laid back and bluesy version which features a slow, drawling harmonica and a heartbeat rhythm. That's early to mid 50's as I recall.

The original "Fat Boy", Billy Stewart, recording on Chicago's Chess label, surely did the definitive 60's uptempo soul/dance version, and offered an unsuspecting public a unique intepretation (although you have to hear the long version to get full benefit from it in my opinion).

Back to the 50's, and tenor sax legend Johnny Hodges did a sublime interpretation that's so laid back he must have been having a siesta when it was recorded.

Of the versions I have, the only ones to have killed the song is an obscurer than obscure early 60's harmony group by the name of The Delco's. They did two takes and in both doo-wop it to death. It likely explains why the tracks remained on the shelf for 40 years and didn't see the light of day until they appeared on a (just as obscure) CD a few years back.

Any versions that stand out for you?


10:22 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sublime :) (okay, not exactly the same, but whenever I hear "Summertime - and the living is easy" I think of sublime.)

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