Monday, May 12, 2014

Not-So-Strange Bedfellows Redux

The first time I heard the Harry Nilsson and Cher duet, "A Love Like Yours," I plotzed. It was 1975 and I was enveloped in all things Zeppelin and Bowie. Of course, I grew up on the great pop single, and all things Beatles and Motown and Spector were on a 24 hour loop in every room of my and every friend and relative's house. But, as a kid, I was not yet savvy to the possiblities of the music industry, so a duet between what seemed like such an unlikely couple produced by the great Phil Spector did not seam real. How could this be?

I've loved this one-off ever since and woke up singing it this morning, which brings me to this question--

What are some other unlikely one-offs that worked? 

I guess the word "unlikely" isn't what it once was, in an age where award shows are built around joining two distinctly different artists, no matter how little they have in common or how terrible the combination may be.

When you through with your choices, here is a ZIP of tunes I posted back in September of 2010, with a dozen of these unlikely duets.


Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Well, it wasn't committed to vinyl, but remember the tv duet of Little Drummer Boy between Bing Crosby and David Bowie back in the seventies? I always thought that was pretty cool. Kinda defines unlikely pairings.


Shriner said...

Nancy Sinatra with her dad worked (sort of -- it's not the world's best song.)

Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, though, killed (though it wasn't a one-off...)

Sal Nunziato said...


Troy said...

It may not be the most unusual pairing ever, but I always liked the duet between Don Henley and Axl Rose on "I Will Not Go Quietly".

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Sal...had no idea the Der-Bingle-Ziggy was ever released. Who knew. Der-Bingle-Ziggy....might be a great name for a band.

Other unusual pairings that worked:
1) Sonny Rollins and the Stones on Waiting On a Friend

2) Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane - Reportedly, Hartman himself was skeptical. End result? Thirty minutes of the best music you're ever likely to hear by our species. Why, oh, why didn't they ever record a second album?

3) ok...I've never actually heard this album, but does anyone out there realize that Johnny Hodges (Duke Ellington's MVP and my alltime favorite sax player) made an album with...ready?...Lawrence Welk!!!! My brain has difficulty wrapping itself around that one.


J. Loslo said...

Don't recall if this has appeared here before, but Brenda Lee & Willy DeVille seems kind of unlikely, but it works:

MSharp said...

I can't say that it worked, but in 1966 Burt "Robin, The Boy Wonder" Ward cut a few sides for MGM with musical arrangements and backing from Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention, just before "Freak Out" was released.

Burt admits to being the world's worst singer, and thinks that an album was canceled when they heard the first song "Orange Colored Sky". Two spoken word songs were recorded; the single was "Boy Wonder I Love You" (Burt reads fan letters) b/w "Orange Colored Sky".

Anonymous said...

Tom Jones did duets with most of his guests on his TV show in the 70's and many of them worked. Two I remember were with Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin.
Also from TV, David Sanborn's Night Music paired Dave Thomas (Pere Ubu) and Loudon Wainwright for a weird and wonderful performance I can find no trace of on Youtube.


I have a pretty groovy cover of "Light My Fire" by José Feliciano and Minnie Ripperton.

buzzbabyjesus said...

My least favorite is Dave and Mick's dancing in the street.
I particularly hate the video.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I liked Robert Plant and Alison Krause, although until just now, I'd forgotten all about it.

Dave said...

Johnny Mathis's Philly Soul album with Thom Bell gets my vote. In the early 70s, Mathis still had a successful concert career but no one wanted to record him. "I'm Coming Home" is a great album with all the distinctive Thom Bell production touches, but Mathis doesn't sacrifice his signature style. Here's a sad song, made even sadder by the knowledge that lyricist Linda Creed was soon to die of breast cancer.

And I can't resist the link to one of the singles from the album, "Life Is a Song Worth Singing" (later the title of a Teddy Pendergrass album), the only cut on the album where Bell goes a little nuts. It's a non-guilty pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Money Jungle, with Ellington, Mingus and Roach.

David Byrne and St. Vincent.

Do producers count? Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash. Sort of a late-career cliche now, but radical at the time. jack White and Loretta Lynn.

Also, a cheat but: Jay-Z and the Beatles, courtesy of Danger Mouse.

Bruce H.

A walk in the woods said...

What the heck? That Nillson/Cher song is actually pretty fabulous! Love it.

Sal Nunziato said...


Never heard the Johnny Mathis/Thom Bell. Gonna check it out. He did a record in the early 80's I believe, where he covered Little Anthony & The Imperials and Todd Rundgren that was pretty damn good, too.

@Bruce H. Never got the Money Jungle record. Spent what felt like a year listening to Ellington and reading about Ellington and I would always go back to that record seeing if it would finally grab me. Might be time again.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Bruce H.

I will never be able to explain how or why this happens but, I've been listening to "Money Jungle" for the last 30 minutes and enjoying it. What wasn't I hearing the first 5 times?

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Love Ellington, but never listened to Money Jungle. ITunes, here I come.

Maybe this would be a good topic (if you haven't already done it): what album when you first heard it left you bored, but years later, left you limp...if you get my drift.


Sal Nunziato said...


This came close--

buzzbabyjesus said...

Maybe this would be a good topic (if you haven't already done it): what album when you first heard it left you bored, but years later, left you limp...if you get my drift.


More than half of them.


mauijim said...

A fave one off has been Carlene Carter/Dave Edmunds duet Baby Rides Easy from her lp Musical Shapes.
Read recently that June and Johnny loved it too after hearing her version and they recorded it and is on his new lp

Lord Carrett said...

The Boxcar Willie with The Skeletons album really worked--on K-Tel Records of all labels!!

Johnny Thunders doing DADDY ROLLING STONE with Steve Marriott and Phil Lynott seems unlikely on the surface, but made total sense.

Not all that unlikely, but Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello's BABY IT'S YOU rivaled all other versions (and there are a lot of them!)

Anonymous said...

Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" is a joy. And when Cash sang "Girl From the North Country" with Dylan on Nashville Skyline, it must have freaked out a lot of their respective fans. It's sloppy but I love it.


Anonymous said...

The Leningrad cowboys and the Red Army choir

Gimme all your lovin