Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 100 versions of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” the timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. If you missed yesterday’s post, where we introduced the song and “covered” its origins, you can find it here.
Part II: The ’70s
R.B. Greaves’ cover of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” to our mind the best cover version of the ‘60s, vanished from the Billboard charts in March of 1970. The rest of this decade pretty much went downhill after that. Not every decade has been great for covers of the song, but the ‘70s represent the low-water mark. Is that an indictment of this decade’s popular music in general? Possibly.
It would be hard to argue the case that any of our choices below is good enough to move forward in a best-of-all-time playoff. Half of the verified baker’s dozen of covers released were instrumentals – the highest whole number and percentage for any decade. Thankfully, most are not available online, but if you must, here are the Moog synthesizer and “happy” Hammond organ versions. That doesn’t mean everything was bad. But after the standouts, we’ll point out a few dishonorable mentions before moving forward tomorrow. So in the ‘70s…
The Carpenters version is good.
Don Williams & The Pozo-Seco Singers version is better.
Winston Francis’ version is best.
The Carpenters – Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
A medley should hardly qualify as a cover, but we warned you. There were no challengers for this slot even with the famous brother/sister duo flying through parts of six standards in under six minutes on “Bacharach/David Medley.” To be fair, the production is superb, and the Grammy award-winning album on which it appears was unequivocally loved. The actual cover begins two minutes into the medley.
Don Williams & The Pozo-Seco Singers – Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
Before becoming a country music legend, Don Williams released four albums with his folk group, The Pozo-Seco Singers. The fourth, Spend Some Time with Me, floundered commercially, but contained this version of “Always Something There to Remind Me.” Surprisingly peppy, the group is the first to sing it as a duet. The track is distinguished by Williams’ great voice and the Tijuana Brass-sounding horns.
Winston Francis – There’s Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
Seemingly out of nowhere, Winston Francis, a.k.a. King Cool, released this rocksteady reggae version early in the decade. In retrospect, it was like a breath of fresh, sweet-smelling Jamaican air compared to the rest of the field in the ‘70s.
• Unexpected unsteady vocals by Peggy Lee plus disco rhythm guitar plus a really bad arrangement equals a truly forgettable version by the iconic entertainer. (1970)
• It’s ironic that Blue Swede, who experienced a major hit with their cover of B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked On a Feeling,” failed so miserably on their campy attempt at a disco version. (1973)
Part III: The ’80s