Saturday, January 08, 2011

Covers that you might not have known are covers: "Unchained Melody"

"Unchained Melody." I'd always wondered what the title meant, since there didn't seem to be anything particularly "unchained" about the melody, and the lyrics don't include that word. Turns out, this song comes from a 1955 prison film called Unchained, so the title actually means "melody of the movie Unchained," not "melody without chains."

It's been recorded dozens, if not hundreds of times. The most familiar version is by the Righteous Brothers (1965), but the 1955 versions by Les Baxter and Al Hibbler charted even higher.

So here's Todd Duncan, Les Baxter (1955), Al Hibbler (1955), Gene Vincent (1956), and the Righteous Brothers (1865).

Todd Ducan (1955)
This is the original version used in the movie. I can't say that it does much for me.

Les Baxter and His Orchestra (1955)
This one is actually quite nice, although the strings and backing vocals are a little saccharine. (Something the images in the video certainly don't help.)

Al Hibbler (1955)
Pretty nice.

Gene Vincent (1956)
This wasn't a hit or anything. I just included it because Gene Vincent was a god.

The Righteous Brothers (1965)
(Credited to the Righteous Brothers, but actually performed solo by Bobby Hatfield.) It speaks for itself.

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