David Bowie was no stranger to cover songs, and the Pin Ups album consists entirely of covers. Sometimes when I hear Bowie’s covers, I deceive myself into believing that they are his songs: he was just that good at injecting his own style and personality into the work.
I recall seeing a taped performance video of “Sorrow” on “The Midnight Special.” That entire episode was Bowie, but the thing that always stood out to me was that song. He oozes high art as he struts around the set in that white suit, the high-fashion makeup, and the what amounts to a fluffy, stylized, red mullet. You simply cannot take your eyes off him.
But this was at least the second cover of this song.
The McCoys released “Sorrow” in 1965, with Rick Derringer singing lead. The pace of the song is the same, but this original version included a harmonica. I like this one, too.
In 1966, The Merseys had a UK #4 hit with their cover of the song, which is more up-tempo and more produced than the McCoys’ original, with horns replacing the harmonica of the original recording.
Honestly, I like all three of these versions, but Bowie’s stands out. He picked up where the Merseys left off, using a horn instead of a harmonica, but his vocal wins. But, the cool thing is that I really don’t HAVE to pick one over the others, and I can enjoy all of them.
BONUS: While reading up on the song, I came across one more cover, but this time a female sings. It’s from The Prissteens, a 90’s band consisting of three women and one guy (the drummer.) This one’s more punky and the lead singer’s voice kind of reminds me of Courtney Love. No horns or harmonica; just some awesome guitar.
Which one do you like best?
Love and kisses. And lots of “Sorrow.”