VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Que Sera, Sera Mixtape”

James Brown said: make it funky. And Sly Stone retorted: I can take you higher. And he did—at least when it came to funking up simple songs. Back in the seventies, Sly took a Doris Day pop hit and made it into something that continues to influence music in the 21st century. Here are four funky versions of “Que Sera, Sera” (Whatever will be, will be). que sera cover 1.jpg 1. Sly Stone - Anthology One of the twists of this version is that Sly doesn’t sing the lead. Those chores fell to Sly’s sister, Rose. She gives the song a straighter and some might even argue a more spiritual reading than Sly’s usual wont. Of course, it was a stroke a genius to select the song and shift from pop to funk with a touch of church, so all praises due to Mr. Stone for sussing out that shift. sly stone 02.jpg Perhaps, the most amazing thing about this version is that once you hear it, Sly’s approach seems to be a natural, seems to be the way the song was meant to be. que sera cover 2.jpg 2. Natalie Cole - Anthology If Sly hinted at a church feel, Natalie took the hint and just went plain hog wild. I can see her prancing down the center aisle, waving her hands in the air, throwing her head back and hollering like she had just eaten the last supper. natalie cole 03.jpg Some may think Natalie over-sings, but jumping overboard and believing they can walk on water is common practice for church vocalists in whose traditional environment whoops and hollers are usually far more effective than understatement and subtlety. In other words, Natalie is not over-singing, she is just “sangin’” her little heart out, and as they say in church, that child can pure-D ‘sang’—and if you don’t know what that means, either replay the selection and listen closely, or ask somebody who is familiar with black church liturgy. que sera cover 3.jpg 3. Macy Gray - Sweet Baby (CD Single) What can I say? Macy is one crazy child, meaning she’s on the funk side of the aisle. I sure wish Columbia had released the entire concert from which this track is taken. macy 08.jpg They were over in London (at The Wembley) and Macy was on it, fired up but rather than just jamming, she had an arrangement and was featuring her backing vocalists. Macy’s version is actually quite a production and has long been my favorite. corrine bailey rae 26.jpg 4. Corinne Bailey Rae - KCRW Broadcast By now we all know she has a new album of original material but in performance she also does covers. This is from a recent concert and in the intro she acknowledges Sly Stone as the inspiration. Corinne is a flyweight when it comes to funk but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t infuse her work with heavy helpings of soulful feelings. Corinne’s work is genuinely moving and gives the other three versions a strong run for the money. What a wonderful opportunity we have to be offered four emotionally moving versions of a pop song that is now comfortably enshrined in the funk kingdom. —Kalamu ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 at 7:55 pm and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Que Sera, Sera Mixtape””

Jeff Says:
May 4th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

A very cool idea – am I alone in thinking that Pink Martini does a very good cover version?

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