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!