Could it be coincidence? This week I bumped into two latin covers of Radiohead's timeless ballad "High & Dry", off their 1995 debut album The Bends (video). It would be hard to improve the original, but both covers are a unique new take on the song, be sure to check them out.
The first one is by Jorge Drexler, a man of sensitive pop songs. Remember his contributions to the Motorcycle Diaries soundtrack, or "Que Bueno Que Bueno" (with Jarabe de Palo), my selection for best latin pop song of 2006.
His version of "High & Dry" is stripped down to voice and acoustic guitar, the first note instantly creating an intimate atmosphere. The Spanish accent, the soft guitar arpeggios and the minimalist feel of the song remind me a lot of José Gonzales. Great cover!
The other version is off the latest Buena Vista Social Club album (though not many of the original members remain). On Rhythms Del Mundo - Cuba legendary Cuban musicians collaborate with alt-rock Anglo acts, for charity. That gives you combinations like U2 and Coco Freeman, Coldplay or Arctic Monkeys in a groovy BVSC remix (video), and Los Van Van doing a serene Radiohead. It's an interesting concept, but most of the songs sound a bit artificial. Even the last recording of the late Ibrahim Ferrer couldn't really move me.
El Lele's version of "High & Dry" (definelty the best song on the album) is smooth latin jazz, spiced up with a few guitar samples. It's not difficult to imagine this song being a traditional Cuban ballad: the lyrics are translated very well, and the delicate piano competes with El Lele's strong, emotional voice for your undivided attention.
Yo viviré, en la soledadThis Afro-Latin gem certainly deserves a place on your iPod!
Yo quedaré, en la soledad
Update: more info on Rhythms del Mundo at Mister Bryans.
Jorge Drexler - High & Dry
El Lele (Los Van Van) & Buena Vista Social Club - High & Dry