TWISTED: Nature Boy Special!

The original hippy, the mystical eden ahbez wrote a tune called "Nature Boy" and by chance was able to hand it to Nat King Cole who turned it into a mega-hit in 1948. He looked like a hippy long before it was a thing and lived outdoors in Los Angeles. He lived under the "L" of the Hollywood sign and held a job as a piano player in a raw foods store. He was a vegetarian, straight edge and an anti-vaxer and wore a white robe. This lifestyle inspired "Nature Boy", and after the hit by Cole, ahbez became an overnight celebrity. In honor of his born day, let's check some favorite versions of "Nature Boy"! This is, possibly TOO MUCH NATURE, haha!

Here is one of my favorite versions, by the out-jazz saxophonist Arthur Doyle, who also puts his own distinct vocalizing on it. Recorded into a cassette boombox, it seems:

Another favorite of mine, a 1969 dark psych rock version by NYC band Gandalf, from their only LP:

As anything that John Coltrane touched, his 1965 version from The John Coltrane Quartet Plays is amazing:

Ray Barretto did this exotic charanga-jazz version on his 1964 Tico album Guajira y Guaguanco:

Joe Beck's groovy 1969 psych version, from an album of the same name:

Miles Davis and Charles Mingus were feuding in the studio during the sessions for Miles' 1955 Blue Moods album, but that didn't stop them from laying down this gorgeous one:

To my knowledge, this is the only recording of it made by Sun Ra:

A collection of European all-stars, featuring vocalist Karin Krog, John Surman and Albert Magelsdorff, did this one on the 1969 Open Space album:

Another interesting one here from French electronic music project DOP, from 2008:

Italian avant-garde looping artist Lili Refrain has one of the more unique covers of it on her 2013 Kawax album:

The Impressions:

Sarah Vaughan recorded an earlier version:

Brit-disco, early '80s by Central Line. This one is the 7" edit:

Another version I like is this loungy electronica one by Fila Brazilia:

UK Latin jazz pianist/producer Alex Wilson is known for his ambitious fusions of styles and experimental approach to other people's material (lead vocalist Lauren Dalrymple):

Another good one is this 1963 version on the Prestige label, by Etta Jones:

The Godfather of Soul got in on it:

JB sideman Pee Wee Ellis here with a light jazz-funk version from '77:

Here's an interesting rendition with Robert Maxwell's harp:

Panflute backed by cheesy '80s jazz:

The master, Esquivel, of course also had to get into it:

Jamaica's Studio 1 was in on the action as well:

...even into the dancehall era:

Lovers of soulful house music may like this one:

Marvin did a pretty faithful version:

Grace Slick singin' it in '67:

West Coast doo-wop:

Bobby Darin's charming 1961 version:

Another cool little vocal 45 version, this time from 1959:

Some prog-folk-rock-fusion action from '69/'70 by UK band Accolade:

Frankie trying his hand in '48, for better or worse:

There are lots of cool jazz versions. Check out the gorgeous tenor sax of Ike Quebec:

'60s Australian mod version:

Another house version:

How about David Bowie's version?:

There's been a few bossa nova versions, which of course is a natural fit. I particularly like this modern take on it by Joyce Moreno, from her recent recording, Cool, on Far Out:

Bauhaus' David J:

We can't get out of this exercise without hearing Spock's version:

David Grisman on mandolin:

Here's a smooth afro-jazz version by Camerounian saxophonist Manu Dibango:

And of course, this huge version:

TWISTED features left-field cover versions of popular songs.

Tagged: Alex Wilson, Arthur Doyle, avant-garde, Bobby Darin, bossa, charanga, Charles Mingus, Curtis Mayfield, dancehall, David Bowie, disco, Eden Ahbez, edit/remix, Esquivel, exotica, folk, Frank Sinatra, Gandalf, George Benson, guitar, Ike Quebec, James Brown, jazz, Joe Beck, John Coltrane, Leonard Nimoy, Los Angeles, lounge, Manu Dibango, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Motown, Nat King Cole, Nature Boy, out-jazz, prog, psych, Ray Barretto, reeds, reggae, rock, salsa!, Sarah Vaughan, soul!, soul/funk, space age, Studio 1, Sun Ra, techno, trumpet, Twisted Cover Versions, Video

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  • Dan Abbott on

    Phenomenal list – thank you so much! You should check out Ahmad Jamal’s amazing version too!

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