SONG: Tears of a Clown
ORIGINAL: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1967)
COVER: The English Beat (1979)
This song is total Motown genius, period. From the distinct up-tempo calliope motif with the bassoon that makes you think a circus is parading down your street, to the juxtaposition of Smokey telling us how sad he is and comparing himself to Pagliacci, trying to keep his sadness hid, the signature call and response of the chorus… did I mention that this song is total Motown genius, PERIOD?
Also, did you know that Stevie Wonder not only wrote the music for this song, he also played the drums? I love this song, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
This song has a great, fast, reggae/ska beat that follows the original arrangement to the letter. This version is heavy on guitars, a bippy-boppy bassline, and the standard saxophone stabs throughout and carries the bridge.
I think this is a great choice, and it fits the Ska/2 Tone/New Wave groove in an effortless way. I remember telling people that this was a cover, and they had to listen twice because it sounds pretty much like their other up-tempo songs.
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
I really love the original. I really love the cover. It’s a tie!
NOW YOU DECIDE!