THE ORIGINAL: Gwen McCrae (1972)

First off, I know your mind is blown right now because I’m certain you thought the original was gonna be either the Elvis or Willie Nelson versions, am I right? Well screw your skull back together and check it out. Gwen recorded it first, followed by Brenda Lee and then Elvis, all in the same year.

You probably remember Gwen as a “one hit wonder” for her classic disco slow-grind hit “Rocking Chair” from 1975, and you don’t think she’s a good fit for “Always On My Mind,” but you’re wrong again! She does a great job with her sultry vocal here.

It’s an interesting combination of the strings and twangy guitar of country and the piano chords and backing vocals of “church,” but it really works. Listen to it a few times, I think you’ll dig it.

THE COVER: The Pet Shop Boys (1987)

As I stated above, we already know about Elvis & Willie’s covers of this, and I could have talked about Tina Turner’s version too, but I decided to go with this version instead. You’ll see why in a second.

First, let me say that I hate the Pet Shop Boys. I can’t stand Neil Tennant’s voice, and this is one of the worst examples of synthpop ever recorded. He’s whiny and nasal, the synths are thin and annoying, and they added two extra chords for no good reason, maybe to extend the torture?

This stinks on ice. One of the worst covers I’ve ever heard. Some public poll rated it the best cover of all time, but I don’t care what England says, and you can tell them I said that. The three men who wrote this song should kick these guys in their asses, although I’m going to guess that the publishing made them even richer than Elvis and Willie did.

WHO DOES IT BETTER?

Gwen does. The. End.

NOW YOU DECIDE!

About Author

Crystal is today's black Renaissance woman. She lives in Harlem, is always up for a new experience, is a magnet for all kinds of crazy, and smells like fresh flowers.

4 Comments

  1. Gwen’s version was great, though I’ll admit I never have heard of her before this, But Elvis’ version to me is the better version. I’ve always loved Elvis as I was exposed to him at a very young age. He was my dad’s favorite singer, and it was a way to bond with him. Now both of them have passed on.

  2. I love the PSB but their version is lacking in nuance and emotion – given the subject matter.
    This could’ve been a cover of a marmalade advert for all the longing it confers with the main beat:
    “I would like some extra jaaaaaaaaaaaam,
    I would like some extra jam !”

  3. Red E. Whip on

    I don’t mind the PSB’s cover. However, in comparing the two, the original is way better. In fact the other two covers are better than PSB. Keep em coming Ms. Durant!

  4. You review music? Wow, any moron can do it nowadays. I don’t care if you believe McCrae’s version is better – to each his own. Your idiotic ramblings are what give you away as a no talent hack. There’s a reason the PSB cover is widely regarded as one of the best covers ever by MULTIPLE sources. Why review something if you already are biased against a band and a particular type of music? Idiocy.

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