There is no doubt about it – the 60s had some fantastic songs. It was all about the girl groups and the fantastic tunes you’ll find on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. With the new TV show Love Child giving everyone a new respect for everything late sixties, I realised just how many great covers there have been of songs from that decade – and not just on a Love Child episode.
WARNING – Dusty Springfield features a lot here. What can I say? It was unavoidable, she WAS the 60s…
1. Anyone Who Had a Heart
What other song can boast having Dionne Warwick, Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield all sing it? Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this song for Dionne Warwick in 1963 so that should be considered the original. Cilla Black then recorded it in 1964 and had a hit in the UK after Dionne had the US hit. Dusty Springfield then recorded it in 1964 as well! We wouldn’t hear of so many people having hits with the same song today. This year, Anja Nissen, winner of The Voice, was asked to record it for Love Child. What a fantastic version. She kept to the original but it still sounded fresh.
2. Be My Baby
Released in August 1963, this song launched The Ronettes into 60’s superstardom. One of the most recognisable drum sequences in history, the beginning is especially distinctive (with the help of it featuring on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, it was one of the first times Phil Spector used the orchestra to create his famous “wall of sound”. Last year, unsigned UK duo Snow Hill recorded a stripped back piano version of the song that is incredibly haunting. Included on the soundtrack for the US TV show ‘Stalker’, that is how I found this gem.
3. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Originally recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1966, this track has been covered many times. Thank god Dusty found this song at the San Remo song festival and made it her own. Cher and even Elvis have covered this, but nothing comes close to her version. Taylor Dayne also recorded it in 1998 and I will never forget Cosima DeVito singing it on Australian Idol in 2003.
4. That’s Life
Recorded in 1964 by Marion Montgomery, That’s Life was made popular by Frank Sinatra in 1966. Many artists have paid tribute to it, but notable ones include Aretha Franklin in 1967 and Bono from U2 in 2002. Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee also sung it on the TV show ‘Smash’ in 2013 – trust me, it is a must watch.
5. Cry Me a River
One of the great Jazz standards, it was also featured on Love Child recently. Recorded by legends like Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald and Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall also included Cry Me a River on her 2001 album ‘The Look of Love’
6. You Don’t Own Me
When then 17-year-old Lesley Gore recorded this song in 1963, she had no idea that she was recording an anthem of feminist power that still resonates today. Dusty Springfield also had a hit with it in 1964 on her “A Girl Called Dusty” album. I grew up with the 80s Blow Monkeys version from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack which had so much attitude, whereas the other versions are more girl power statements. Who could forget the hilarious ‘First Wives Club’ version? – a great movie music moment. Grace went No.1 on iTunes with the song only last month when it was on Love Child – everyone loves the new version even though it sticks to the original melody so well.
7. If I Can Dream
How could I not have an Elvis song here? When Elvis went Gospel in the 60s, there were some great songs to be heard – but none more powerful than ‘If I Can Dream’. As part of his 1968 comeback special, it is still a legendary performance. My favourite remake of it however, is when Wendy Matthews redid it for her ‘Witness Tree’ album in 1994. She stripped it back to almost just piano and her and slowed the tempo. Just stunning.
8. I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Originally recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in 1966, Gladys Knight and the Pips also recorded it in 1967 before Grapevine became the version most people know by Marvin Gaye in 1968. Other covers include Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1970 and Ike and Tina Turner in 1969 (and again by Tina in 1999). Marvin Gaye singing it acapella is spine tingling if you ever get the chance to watch him.
9. River Deep, Mountain High
Like ‘Be My Baby’, River Deep was produced by Phil Spector who also had a hand in writing it. That famous wall of sound is evident again. Celine Dion also recorded it in 1996 and she cleverly changed the lyrics from ‘I love you like a Robin loves to sing’ to ‘Tina loves to sing’. What a classic.
10. I Only Want To Be With You
Finally we come back to Dusty. Probably her most well known song and recorded in 1963, it has been covered so many times it would be hard to list them all here. Notable ones include Bay City Rollers in 1976 and our very own Tina Arena in 2007. Make sure you check out Vonda Shepard’s piano acoustic version from 2002 though – simply beautiful. Those were the days when she was the resident songstress for the TV show Ally McBeal.
Enjoy listening to the originals and new versions of these 60’s classics!