Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Covers: Jorge Drexler, Los Van Van, Buena Vista Social Club

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 soledad
Yo quedaré, en la soledad
This Afro-Latin gem certainly deserves a place on your iPod!

Update: more info on Rhythms del Mundo at Mister Bryans.

Jorge Drexler - High & Dry mp3 buy@iTunes (Europe) buy@Amazon
El Lele (Los Van Van) & Buena Vista Social Club - High & Dry mp3 buy@iTunes buy@Amazon


Matias said...

Hi Chapín!
Funny, I just came across "Rythms del Mundo" in the news section of my local record store. Imagine my sourprise, as there is practically no latin music in record stores in NZ. I asked the girl to have a listen and was really dissapointed :-(
I can't say there's one song you can rescue from that record. Really sad...

Chapín said...

Yeah, I was dissapointed too after the first listen, except for this one song. Maybe that's because I'm a Radiohead fan ;)

Especially the rock-esque numbers are horrible (like the Arctic Monkeys' Dancing Shoes, and the U2 song).

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy I've found the blog that I love and because I'm a radiohead fan I love so much so much the Lele version ;)
thanks a lot

Chapín said...

thanks for your enthousiasm ;) I'm a big Radiohead fan as well, I'd like to post tons about them, but hey it's a latin music blog :)

Anonymous said...

Hi to all, I 'd like to know if is possible to find the lyric of the El Lele "high and dry" version....I love this version as much as the original one!!!
thanks a lot,

about the navigator said...

Jorge Drexler is an excellent musician. I was introduced to him just recently and came to realize that his voice, his lyrics and the mix between classic and electronic instruments.

Taiwanesa said...

Hello to all and to the anonymous someone. I know this info comes a bit late. I love the EL LELE version, too. And I just came across this link to get the lyrics: