A&M Cover Versions 1965-70: "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"

Which cover version is your favourite?

  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

    Votes: 9 60.0%
  • Claudine Longet

    Votes: 1 6.7%
  • Soul Flutes (Herbie Mann)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Wes Montgomery

    Votes: 1 6.7%
  • The Alan Copeland Singers

    Votes: 2 13.3%
  • Paul Desmond

    Votes: 2 13.3%

  • Total voters
    15

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Vote for your favourite cover version and tell us a bit about why you made your selection. (The selections are listed in release order.)

 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
NOT on A&M BUT the late Ray Conniff & The Singers did a great version of the Simon & Garfunkel remake on Columbia (from early 1969 "I Love How You Love Me").
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
I also give the nod to Brasil'66. I really like the string arrangements and the vocals. I had heard Claudine Longet and Alan Copeland Singers versions on the radio. I like Claudine but it is a bit too whispered and I never cared for the Copeland combination with Classical Gas.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
This was a hard one...well, sort of...so, it was down to a process of elimination

Sergio — I never warmed up his taking a serious song and re-tooling it into a shuck ’n jive dance number. The one-chord vamp solo is boring and the arrangement calls for repeating one lyric stanza ad infinitum. (Really? Like you gotta be kidding me? I'm sure Simon wasn't impressed.)

Wes — If you’re gonna vamp it out, at least do it like this; but Wes never resolved it so Creed faded it (because it was a jam, I suppose...).

Alan Copeland— The most imaginative arrangement, but I can’t tolerate those toothpaste commercial singers where the lowest males voice sounds like a high school tenor. Blech.

Desmond -- Hard to beat. That’s Herbie Hancock soloing on electric piano — again on a vamp — but there a voicing modes and rhythmic interplay that make this one the best in that vein.

Soul Flutes — Herbie Mann’s reading is good and of the instrumental versions it best captures the English ballad aspect of the traditional song. (It should be known that Simon did not write this song; both lyric and melody are a traditional English folk ballad.)

Claudine — Along side Ron Elliot’s guitars, Claudine gives this the best English ballad feel that I prefer for this piece. She nails it.
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
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This really is a tough one. I think it's because I like the song so much that every version becomes special.

My natural instinct is to vote for Sergio Mendes's hit version. Yes, this record only repeats the one verse, but each time through, the third line (Remember me to the one who lives there) is altered from its original melody, giving the record some variety. If I have a negative about this record, it's that it was slathered with CSG processing in all stereo releases. Thankfully, today there are ways of undoing it. Sergio's studio recording is certainly the version I've listened to most over the years (He also has several live versions out there).

Alan Copeland Singers - I love this version as a mashup with "Classical Gas". It's a fun and inventive way to perform two songs at once and I marvel at arrangers who can manage such feats. And I love the Ron Hicklin-style singers.

Claudine Longet - a fine version that maybe takes too long to get going. There's a full minute of orchestral intro in a three minute arrangement.

Paul Desmond, Wes Montgomery, and Herbie Mann's Soul Flutes are all fine takes, but to me they're not exciting recordings, but they brighten up the albums that they are a part of.

I'm going to vote Sergio.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
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Even though it's my least favorite Paul Desmond album, I have to go with his version here. Sergio's version would be a second choice for the liberties he took with the tune.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
Did NOT heard of that song by Simon & Garfunkel for the first time until late 1972 when my late parents bought the 8 track "Greatest Hits" in late 1972!! I was 7 & 1/2 years old.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Again this was tough Sergio's version got my vote second place goes to Wes Montgomery he gave it a good Jazzy vamp to it third place going to the Alan Copeland Singers for their Mashup with Classical Gas ( I thought that was pretty cool) I haven't previously heard soul flutes or Desmond versions so I can't comment on those Claudine however did OK on hers but I gave it fourth place ( my Apologies to Miss Claudine)
 

Moritat

Well-Known Member
My favorite version of Scarborough Fair is by Marianne Faithfull. Of the choices above, I liked the version by WES best. Loved the fact that the song is mainly improvising instead of melody. I also like Sergio, Claudine & Soul Flutes.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
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Thinking more about it, Sergio's version is more aligned towards jazz than it appears to be at first glance. Many times with jazz arrangements, the lyrics are secondary to the melody and the chord changes, and Sergio's electric piano solo kind of takes off on that theme. Remember, too, Sergio's roots were more in jazz back in his earlier days, so doing this type of arrangement would be second nature to him.
 

DAN BOLTON

Well-Known Member
Had to go with Sergio by a hair, but Wes' version has a lot of tone poem vibes to it, like actually travelling on the road to Scarborough Fair and running into a few obstacles...like dashboard lights or driver's assistance aids going off in the background...dah, dah dah...
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Sergio's version is more aligned towards jazz than it appears to be at first glance. Many times with jazz arrangements, the lyrics are secondary to the melody and the chord changes, and Sergio's electric piano solo kind of takes off on that theme. Remember, too, Sergio's roots were more in jazz back in his earlier days, so doing this type of arrangement would be second nature to him.
Good point. Had Sergio's been an instrumental, I would find it more palatable.

(The same sort of thing happened with The Look Of Love, (which we beat to death awhile back) where lyric content similarly doesn't fit the arrangement. Interestingly, Fool On The Hill being a spartan ballad in its original form shouldn't work with the Sergio treatment -- but it somehow does -- and since the mid '80s, I've found myself defending Sergio's and Grusin's unique 6/4 take on McCartney's ballad time and time again... I think one reason it works regards the female story teller perspective. Additionally, Lani and Karen fully embrace the lyrical content with a skillful use of dynamics [His head in the clouds, the man of a-thousand voices talking perfectly loud! But nobody ever hears him or the sounds he appears to make...] as does Dave Grusin’s fine scoring by adding ever-increasing intensity to the ending fragments [...and the eyes in his head see the world...]. I’m sure Paul liked what Sergio and Dave cooked up...)
 

LPJim

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator



Voted for Copeland. Here's another creative combination from his group on ABC label.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Man, this sure was Copeland's bag. Wonder what goes on inside his head when he listens to a song?
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
He had a bit of a background with TV variety shows - we saw his name pop up on that Red Skelton thing with Herb Alpert. A lot of those shows often featured mash-up duets between the main star and a guest star, and I always found those fascinating.

Now a question regarding Paul Desmond's BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WAYER. Based on the song selection and that this is a fringe "CTi" album without Creed Taylor, I thought I'd add it to the collection. I found a used "A&M Originals" CD from Verve that came out in 2008. There doesn't seem to be a place for a booklet within the digipak. Did this originally come with a booklet? Other A&M/Verve discs usually did, but this doesn't even have a pocket for a booklet.
 

Mike Blakesley

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Staff member
Moderator
I always liked the Sergio Mendes version of Scarborough Fair.

It drives me nuts however, that in so many places (like the Claudine version here), this song is referred to as "Scarborough Fair/Canticle." The "Canticle" is a whole other melody that appears on the Simon & Garfunkel version, sung over the top of the SF melody. It's a completely different tune. So the correct title of most every other one out there, most likely, is simply "Scarborough Fair."

Having gotten that rant off my chest.... I have always liked Sergio's version and I like it the best out of this group. I agree with Harry that Claudine's version takes too long to get moving, but once she starts singing it's a nice version.

Sergio's version is clearly a fore-runner to "Crystal Illusions" -- the same rhythm, the same type of orchestration, the same kind of piano solo, the same "mysterious" vocals. They just took every idea they had with "Scarborough Fair" and dialed them all up to 11 for "Crystal Illusions." Which is one of my favorite Sergio Mendes songs.

My all time favorite version is the "live" recording by Simon & Garfunkel on their album The Concert in Central Park. The fact that these two guys with one guitar could hold the attention of a half a million people in the middle of New York City was just amazing to me and still is. I don't think there have ever been two voices better suited to each other than these two guys.

 
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lj

Well-Known Member
This was a hard one...well, sort of...so, it was down to a process of elimination

Sergio — I never warmed up his taking a serious song and re-tooling it into a shuck ’n jive dance number. The one-chord vamp solo is boring and the arrangement calls for repeating one lyric stanza ad infinitum. (Really? Like you gotta be kidding me? I'm sure Simon wasn't impressed.)

Wes — If you’re gonna vamp it out, at least do it like this; but Wes never resolved it so Creed faded it (because it was a jam, I suppose...).

Alan Copeland— The most imaginative arrangement, but I can’t tolerate those toothpaste commercial singers where the lowest males voice sounds like a high school tenor. Blech.

Desmond -- Hard to beat. That’s Herbie Hancock soloing on electric piano — again on a vamp — but there a voicing modes and rhythmic interplay that make this one the best in that vein.

Soul Flutes — Herbie Mann’s reading is good and of the instrumental versions it best captures the English ballad aspect of the traditional song. (It should be known that Simon did not write this song; both lyric and melody are a traditional English folk ballad.)

Claudine — Along side Ron Elliot’s guitars, Claudine gives this the best English ballad feel that I prefer for this piece. She nails it.
It's amazing what you can learn from this forum. I never knew that this song was adapted by Paul SImon from an old English ballad. Thanks for the info.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
It's amazing what you can learn from this forum. I never knew that this song was adapted by Paul SImon from an old English ballad. Thanks for the info.
If you're amazed at that fact, how about Paul Simon's whole usage of Los Incas "El Condor Pasa" behind the Simon & Garfunkel vocals.

 
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lj

Well-Known Member
Harry--Very interesting. I wonder how the copyright and royalties situation works out for both Simon & Garfunkel recordings?
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Here on A&M is Paul Desmond's masterful version of "El Condor Pasa"--for me it's far superior than S&Gs version. Paul's minimalist sax performance is truly West Coast jazz all the way. And Don Sebesky's arrangement has an aura of mystery to it--simply fabulous. And you also have Joao Palma on drums. Wow what a recording. I notice on the picture of the LP label that Simon is credited only as a lyricist for this song, and so I'm guessing he would get royalties for that aspect.

 

Harry

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Staff member
Site Admin
Harry--Very interesting. I wonder how the copyright and royalties situation works out for both Simon & Garfunkel recordings?
From what I understand by looking at the fine print credits on the S&G recording, Los Incas was credited with the backing track, and I understand that Paul Simon invited them up to the recording studio to make the record. I'm guessing that the "magic" of the original recording was better than what Los Incas was able to try to recreate, and S&G used their original recording. The credits have always been on the up & up, as far as I can tell from my multiple versions.
 
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JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
It's amazing what you can learn from this forum. I never knew that this song was adapted by Paul SImon from an old English ballad. Thanks for the info.
Here's the story. (So if you're counting, During 1966, Simon caused feeling of animosity with both UK guitarist, Martin Carthy, and Bruce Woodley of The Seekers regarding songwriting credits.)

Scarborough Fair (ballad) - Wikipedia
 
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