Not many times does a legendary song have a cover version best it. That is the case with Ben E. King's 1961 hit "Stand By Me" which, despite being the definition of a "classic" song, was outdone by Spyder Turner only five years later. By no means does that diminish King's version, but Turner was able to not only record an original version, he was also able to add onto it and create a sort of amalgamation of styles other great soul singers would use on the song.
Here is the classic Ben E. King version:
You can trace the evolution in soul music between these two version of the same song. While King's version exemplifies the early 60's style soul with strings and doo-wop backup singers, Turner's marks the beginning of what would become the harder-edged funky, horn-driven soul of the late 60's. Turner also immitates how other singers would sing the song. Here is a list of the people Spyder Turner impersonates during his version: Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Billy Stewart, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and Chuck Jackson
Oh, but there is another version worth mentioning! John Lennon recorded his own cover for his 1975 Rock 'n' Roll album. His recording is, expectedly, more rock 'n' roll and one of the finer cuts off that album. The version in this video is a little rougher than the one that I put up as a sample at the bottom of the page.
Stand by Me by Ben E. King
Stand by Me by Spyder Turner
Stand by Me by John Lennon
Coming in the next few weeks: Summertime, Evil Hearted You and the Dum Dum Ditty.