Taste of Honey / Batman Boogaloo – José Fajardo

Get honeyed up with Cuban flautist José Fajardo’s 1968 boogaloo version of Herb Alpert’s 1965 cover of Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow’s A Taste of Honey. Originally a recurring instrumental theme written for the 1960 Broadway perfomance of Shelagh Delaney’s 1958 play A Taste of Honey, Herb Alpert turned the song into a pop hit and a few years later José made it boogaloo.

Both the original and Herb Alpert’s recordings earned the song four Grammy Awards. As far as I know José’s cover is the only version with the chanting refrain toward the end, which I just love.

On the same album this is pulled from, José and his orchestra also put their spin on the old sixties Batman theme. If anyone wants to translate the lyrics for me, I’d be thrilled. I can’t imagine what they could be singing about, but I hope there’s some reference in there to the Batusi

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Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Charlie Palmieri

Charlie Palmieri’s cover of Uptight (Everthing’s Alright) appeared on his 1968 album Latin Bugalo. First released as a single in 1966, Uptight was written by Motown songwriters Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby to fit 15 year old Stevie Wonder’s new deeper voice, as it had recently dropped. Wanting to record a song with a driving beat along the lines of The Rolling Stones(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Stevie presented Moy with the chorus to the song but that was all he had. Cosby worked on an arrangement and Moy finished the lyrics on the day of the recording but as she hadn’t had time to find a braille translation, she sang the song to him as he was recording it, one line ahead of him, and he simply repeated the lines as he heard them, with Moy later commenting that “he never missed a beat”.

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Pastime Paradise – Ray Barretto

Latin percussionist and band leader Ray Barretto’s cover of Pastime Paradise is taken from his 1981 album La Cuna, which also featured two other Latin legends – Tito Puente and Charlie Palmeiri. A pioneer of Latin Boogaloo in the 1960s and a master of the descarga (improvised jam session), Barretto was also a long-time member of the Fania All-Stars and continued recording and touring until his death in 2006.

Stevie Wonder‘s original recording of Pastime Paradise appeared on his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life and was one of the first recordings to use a synthesiser instead of a full strings section. Check out Maromaro1337’s stylophone cover of Gangsta’s Paradise for another wild take on this track.

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Summertime – Rosinha De Valença

Born in Rio de Jainero in 1941, Rosinha de Valença was a Brazilian composer, arranger and musician. She was considered one of the best acoustic guitarists in Brazilian music. At the age of 50 she suffered brain damage as the result of a heart attack and fell into a vegetative state. She died of respiratory failure 12 years later in 2004.

Summertime was originally composed as an aria by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera ‘Porgy and Bess’.