Mastermix Label Manager Richard Lee has compiled his favourite mobile DJ cover versions!
- Yazz & the Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up: Yes…this really is a cover version! The original was recorded in 1980 by soul singer Otis Clay but failed to chart in the UK. In 1988 producers Jonathon More & Matt Black (better known as Coldcut) recorded their version featuring Yazz, who had previously appeared on their hit ‘Doctorin’ The House’, and it topped the UK charts for 5 weeks. Ironically the track knocked Glenn Medeiros off number one with his cover of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You’ (George Benson) and was replaced at the top of the charts by Phil Collins with his version of ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ (The Mindbenders)! It is a party classic that continues to fill dancefloors when played and remains one of my favourite 80s tunes.
- Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse – Valerie: In fairness to The Zutons their original recording isn’t that bad but compare it to this version and there is no competition. Musician & producer, Mark Ronson, beefed up the track, increased the tempo and added the remarkable vocal talents of Amy Winehouse to create a floorfilling anthem that always seem to hit the spot!
- Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary: This version is like a firework. Light the touch-paper and stand back. Slow burner to start but when it goes…wow! Originally penned in 1969 by John Fogerty and released by Creedance Clearwater Revival it has become a mobile DJ essential. On occasion I have reserved this as a bonus track to play after the final song of the night. Create a false ending, let your audience shout for more…then unleash this gem! A truly outstanding version of a brilliant song.
- The Beatles – Twist & Shout: Written in 1961 and originally recorded by the Top Notes it is the version by the Isley Brothers that saw it become a global hit. In 1963 the Beatles recorded it for their first album ‘Please Please Me’ and it’s their interpretation that comes out on top for me. It has all the hallmarks of the Merseybeat style that became synonymous with the ‘Fab Four’. Gritty sound with immense passion…pure rock & roll.
- Soft Cell – Tainted Love: Northern Soul fans will probably have something to say about this choice but the biggest selling single of 1981 is arguably one of the greatest cover versions of all time. Gloria Jones did an amazing job with the original recording that is a must-play for soul fans but Soft Cell’s cover gives it a good run for its money. There can’t be many events where this track isn’t played and you get another cover version if you decide to play the 12” version which mixes seamlessly into ‘Where Did Our Love Go’.
- Run DMC feat. Aerosmith – Walk This Way: The opening drumbeats to this track are iconic and have been the backbone to many remixes & mixes over the years and as soon as you play this the audience engage and react with great approval. The fusion of rap & rock is perfect and take the original Aerosmith version to new heights by using a drum machine and turntable to reflect the music trends of 1986. It has everything needed to make it a brilliant cover version and a crowd pleaser.
- Los Lobos – La Bamba: This is another classic example of a straight cover that is better than the original. In 1987 the biographical movie ‘La Bamba’ was released and told the story of singer Ritchie Valens. He recorded his version of the song in 1958 before he was tragically killed in a plane crash that was also to take the life of rock & roll legend Buddy Holly & radio DJ – The Big Bopper. The movie soundtrack featured several Valens tracks but it was this one that hit the number one spot and remains the preferred version by many DJs when playing “a bit of rock & roll”.
- The Communards feat. Sarah-Jane Morris – Don’t Leave Me This Way : Selecting the right track to cover is essential and there can be no arguing that the Communards got it spot on with this Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes classic. The original is awesome, the Thelma Houston cover is brilliant but the Communards version is the one that stood out and continues to do so to this day. The vocals of Somerville & Morris work perfectly and there can’t be many better crescendos than the final part of this classic cover version when Jimmy Somerville delivers the awesome “Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh Baby!” before the last chorus kicks in and the crowd go wild…boom!!!
- West End feat. Sybil – The Love I Lost : The early 90s saw a plethora of cover versions with this one standing head & shoulders above many of the others. Originally a hit for Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes in 1974 this version featured the driving vocals of Sybil and the creative production skills of West End…better known as Mike Stock & Pete Waterman. Silky smooth production ensured this track was a hit in 1993 and is still a favourite amongst many DJs today.
- Madness – It Must Be Love: I make no excuses for selecting a track by my favourite as my number one. Hits including ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘One Step Beyond’ & ‘My Girl’ had ensured that the group were amongst the biggest music acts in the UK.
In 1981 the group released a cover of a track written & recorded 10 years earlier by Labi Siffri. It reached number 4 in the UK and has become one of, if not the, most-loved of all songs by the Nutty Boys. The opening piano notes have become instantly recognisable, everyone knows the words and let’s be honest who doesn’t love a bit of Madness?