Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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Never Can Say Goodbye – The Communards / Gloria Gaynor

communardsSorry, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Things going on I’m afraid (nothing significant, just general life stuff) which meant I haven’t got round to putting much up on here. But I do have a batch of stuff that I will post over the next few weeks, and here is the first.

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Depending on your generation, this is either a disco classic from the 1970s (Gloria Gaynor) or a classic hi-nrg cover from the 1980s (The Communards). Or possibly even a Jacksons classic from the early 1970s (I didn’t know anything about that one until I started looking into this). For me it’s the 1980s version that is the most evocative, although I do like the Gloria Gaynor one for it’s subtlety (The Communards version is *not* a subtle record!).

The Communards had already had a huge hit with a cover of a disco classic (Don’t Leave Me This Way) in 1986, and followed it the following year with this. Some might call it a cynical attempt to re-capture the success of the following year, and there is probably some justification for that (subsequent original songs had not really set the charts alight). But I don’t think you can fail to respond to the enthusiasm and clear love of the song that Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles (now the Rev. Richard Coles) brought to this recording. I particularly love the totally camp enthusiasm that Cole shows in the video (see 1:12) and Sommerville is obviously immensely enjoying himself (see 3:25).

And so to the songsheet. There’s a few unusual chords in there (although you could probably skip the Db if you struggle with it) but they do add something to the song. The rhythm is relatively straightforward and consistent throughout, although I have add a couple of counts where the timing might get a little tricky. Sing and play with enthusiasm an you can’t go far wrong.

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Substitute – Clout / The Righteous Brothers

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I never knew that Substitute was a cover version. Until about an hour ago I’d always gone under the misconception that it was an original song from Clout, a South African all-girl band (seemingly a sub-genre of one!). In that guise, I’ve always viewed at as a great, sadly forgotten, example of melodic, veering-on-the-edge-of-cheesy 1970s pop. It reached number 2 in the UK charts, yet it seems to have dissappeared from most people’s consciousness. Clout were a one-hit wonder in the UK, althought they did have further success elsewhere.

But then I did a bit of googling, and find it’s not that straightforward at all. It appears that Substitute was first recorded by The Righteous Brothers and released as a single in 1975. It was written by a certain Willie H. Wilson, of whom I can find very little information, other than that he wrote another song (High Blood Pressure) for The Righteous Brothers, and sung a rather nice pop/soul recording called My Ship.

Then I find that, amongst a number of other cover versions, Substitute was also recorded by Gloria Gaynor. Not just that, but it was originally the A-Side of a single, the B-Side of which was I Will Survive! DJ’s started playing I Will Survive in preference to Substitute and the single was eventually flipped. And the rest, as they say, is history – I Will Survive became a bone-fide and (unfortunately!) staple of karaokes the world over.

But for me it will always be the Clout version that is definitive.

And so to the song sheets. Having unearthed this slightly surprising history for the song, I’ve now got no less than three versions of the song sheet! There’s the original Clout version, as performed in E. There’s also a transposed version of the Clout version, in D, which I find easier to sing. And then there is The Righteous Brothers version, which has slightly different lyrics (gender reassignment!), and is in the same key as their version, namely D. Take your pick, and enjoy!

<Clout, original version>  <Clout version, in D>  <Righteous Brothers version>