BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Cry Me A River” results


So, last week I chose the song “Cry Me A River,” a torch song popularized by Julie London in the 1950’s and recorded many times since, including the contestants from last week, Joe Cocker and Michael Bublé. Cocker’s version was done during the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour in 1969-70 and was a blues-rock version arranged by Leon Russell, the guy in the green top hat in the video. Bublé’s was a Big Band version, sung with the appropriate Vegas-style bombast. I purposely didn’t give you any obvious choices, including Julie London’s original (which would have been my choice, as it is a classic, both for Ms. London’s vocal and Barney Kessel’s remarkable guitar playing) and Ella Fitzgerald’s version from the early 1960’s (she would have sung the song in Pete Kelly’s Blues, had they decided to keep it). I could have put Julie up against Ella with this, but chose not to; both women are remarkble singers, but their versions are not that different from each other.

This appeared, from many of the comments I received, to have become a contest between “NOT Joe Cocker” and “NOT Michael Bublé”. In the end, Not-Cocker beat Not-Bublé by almost a 2-1 margin. The tallies:

Cocker 5
Bublé 8

My own choice wouldn’t have made a difference, but I would have chosen Joe Cocker’s version. It was the first version I heard, he was backed by some of the best sidemen of the late 1960’s-early 1970’s (Leon Russell, Chris Stainton, Bobby Keys, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle) and a number of fine singers (including Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear), and it was an interesting take on the song. But I don’t give myself a vote.

Okay! So, we’ll see you back here on the first of next month. Rock on!

10 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Cry Me A River” results

  1. Shoot, I miss the vote! Oh well, that’s what happens when you take a blog hiatus, huh? If I had gotten a chance to cast my pick it would have been Joe Cocker. Michael Bublé did a good job, but Cocker’s cover is closer to the original and feels more right to me. Thanks for stopping by and casting your vote. I’ll share the results on the 1st.


  2. I enjoyed this BATTLE, but unfortunately your site would not let me comment. I’m trying again this time just to see what happens and if the comment does go through, I also want to apologize to both you and Joe Cocker, because that is where I was trying to cast my vote. That tour was exceptional. (Big Leon Russel fan here).


    1. I didn’t see your comment hit the Spam bucket. Wonder what happened? Well, I got this one. Let me know if it happens again, okay?

      Joe Cocker had just come off another tour and found out he was committed to doing the tour that became “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” Leon Russell put the band together and ran all the rehearsals, and he picked some of the finest sidemen (and women) available. That tour could have been a disaster otherwise.


    1. It’s early in the round. It takes me a week or two to get going. Don’t give up unless you’re really overwhelmed. You do have a life, and that’s what’s so good about ROW80. Thanks for stopping in!


      1. Anytime dude, Indeed. I’m not giving up plenty of journey ahead. Drinking coffee, and occasional typo, if I keep it up, I may be third place in typo champions. I will swing, unless my groove has a case of narcolepsy and my muse had taken off somewhere moonlighting as a nymph.


  3. If you would have voted for Cocker then the outcome wouldn’t have been much different, but I’m with you on the reason for voting Cocker–it’s the version I’ve been most accustomed to hearing. I agree that Julie’s is the best.

    Tossing It Out


    1. Undoubtedly. Cocker took the song and made it his own. But Julie London’s version, the original with Barney Kessel playing guitar, is one of the great songs of all time.


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