A motley collection of comedians attempt to conquer the popular music world with relatively serious cover versions of pop hits.
Comedians making records is not an unusual thing – the comedy record and novelty song is a fine and honourable tradition, after all. But some comedians have had more dramatic ambitions and chosen to perform their own versions of rock classics with a straight – or at least straightish – face. Here are just a few.
Kenneth Connor, best known for his roles in the Carry On films, teamed up with Glennis Beresford in 1971 for a curious concept album about love in its various forms. Part humour, part straight-faced performances, the highlight might be his cover of The Beatles‘ Norwegian Wood.
Reprehensible in all aspects, Jim Davidson’s swaggeringly awful cover of Pinball Wizard gives new meaning to the word ‘crass’. Recorded live at Caesar’s Palace, as hard as that is to comprehend.
Dustin Gee achieved a degree of fame as part of a comedy double-act with Les Dennis before suffering a massive heart attack on stage in 1986; he died the next day. A decade earlier, while still an unknown performing in cabaret, he released an LP of straight songs, including this ‘ambitious’ version of David Bowie‘s Space Oddity.
Cannon and Ball offer up this painful version of Elvis Costello’s Oliver’s Army, carefully avoiding the political aspects of the song by burying them in a flurry of jokes about ‘poofters’. Steady yourself for this one.
Ken Dodd had the sort of mainstream singing career that other comedians could only dream of, with a string of hit singles as a romantic crooner even as he was waving his tickle stick around on stage, packing them in for infamous live comedy shows that often became hostage situations was Doddy refused to leave the stage. Here’s his 1962 version of Fools Rush In.
And finally, here’s Don Estelle, who had a chart hit with a cover of Whispering Grass with his It Ain’t Half Hot Mum co-star Windsor Davies, and then followed up with a handful of albums that were promoted via extensive public appearances at Woolworth branches across the UK for years. Further pop (and, indeed, acting) success sadly eluded him. Here he is singing I Only Have Eyes for You, from his hilariously titled Ultimate Collection LP.
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