First time that I heard "Hey Jude" was by Ray Conniff & The Singers (from 1969 "I Love How You Love Me") album which my late mom bought when I was 4 years old in 1969. Did not heard The Beatles version until February or March of 1978 when the ABC TV special "Heroes Of Rock & Roll" & it was shown during the closing credits & I was 12 years old! In the Summer of 1992, my late mom heard The Beatles version for the first time & she did NOT liked Paul McCartney yelling out "wahhhhh"!!
The first of these three that I'd ever heard was Edú Lobo. Back in the early days of this forum, this album came up in some Sergio Mendes/Brazilian discussions and was somewhat difficult to find a copy. As seemed to happen often in those days, the Japanese had come to our rescue with rereleases on CD of some of these old A&M albums, and this Edú Lobo album had been around since 1995 (POCM-2016). The album was a nice foray into some of Lobo's compositions, but it was universally thought that "Hey Jude" just didn't belong. My opinion was less harsh, but I believe it is out of place here. A&M/Verve magically re-issued it on CD in 2000.
The next one of these that I heard was Nick De Caro's HAPPY HEART on a 2006 CD reissue in Japan (UICY-93078). This version of "Hey Jude" seems more in keeping with its surroundings on this album. I'm not crazy about the opening, but the track builds nicely orchestrally.
SHANGO just arrived in my collection in the past week or so as an original LP. "Hey Jude" is performed largely on steel drums, and the Beatles' 7+ minute opus is done in under 2:15.
Of these three, I'd have to vote for Nick De Caro's version.
As much as I like Edu Lobo, that has to be one of the worst versions of "Hey Jude" I have ever heard in my life. Given all the music he composed, putting that on the album was completely pointless, and I have to skip that tune or it ruins the entire album.
That said, I dislike the tune anyways (except for the first three minutes of the Beatles version), so I'll refrain from voting on this one.
I'm in the minority here, but I like Edu's version. It's different and within the context of his LP, I actually enjoy the left-turn ending; yet I can see how it would disrupt the preceeding selections. (I think it's clear both Edu and Milton were enamored with Lennon and McCartney's songwriting abilities -- don't forget Milton kick off his self-titled LP, also released in 1970, with Para Lennon e McCartney.) I have a Japanese De Caro CD (which includes his 45 version of Spanish Flea as a bonus selection); I guess it serves a singular purpose when I'm in the mood for that sort of thing but truth be told, nothing on the LP is particularly memorable to me. Again with Shango. I'm thinking the group may have been thought of as an updated TJB in a sense in that they could potentially have mass appeal. I like the steel drums treatment. I presume group members played those instruments, which is impressive.
I'm pretty torn between the lush DeCaro arrangement and Shango's version (being a marimbist and a fan of the steel drum, I find it VERY pleasing to listen to). So my vote goes to Shango.
If Julius and the boys had ever released their version, I probably would've voted for their version. I often wonder if they ever DID record it. There were a few tracks that came as 45s AFTER Fresh Air, but before As Time Goes By, an album that is radically different from anything the BMB did before. I suspect there was an incomplete BMB album that would've likely contained "Can You Dig It," "Picasso Summer" and "Hey Jude", but given the direction pop music (and A&M) were going at that time adult contemporary music was quickly fading in popularity. Julius may have abandoned it for a straighter jazz release (which is pretty much what As Time Goes By was), and probably fulfilled contractual obligations. They returned to form on their next album, Baja Marimba Band's Back on Bell Records.
I'll go out on a limb and say Sergio did the same thing with Primal Roots -- a very different album from what his fans were used to, and then also re-emerged on Bell Records...