So previously on Among Friends we were getting all up in the face of that brilliant track Pure Imagination. There was the reminder of the original as performed in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by the incomparable Gene Wilder. You know you’ve put a good song together when it’s covered by a variety of artists in a variety of styles and that honour has been attributed to this track.
Impressive as it was to hear the Smoking Popes and Johnny Mathis have a go. And as creative as it was to hear Psychonauts give it a trance spin (lets face it the original looked like it could relate to some tripping, if you know what I mean), there are yet better covers of that glorious track to enjoy.
So it’s one thing for Johnny Mathis to give the song a go. I’d argue, however, and it’s all about personal taste anyway, that Lou Rawls gives this some real welly. There’s a richness about and edge about his smooth vocals on this song. You can tell as well that this is a creation of 70’s soul, man. I mean it’s not about any other trippin than getting with the soul man. You can just swing to the feel of this and it is such a cool and groovy version of the original. Bear that in mind for a bit later on.
Maroon 5. Somebody likes them, right? I’ve heard of them, but I haven’t really heard them. Now this version of the song is seriously chilled and laid back. Now that’s a good reference to the tripping of the original, but in a much more laid back style than the efforts of Lou and even Johnny. The vocal is virtually done with ease and you can imagine that this world of pure imagination is almost hypnotically relaxing. I mean listen, if I was a hypnotherapist – and I’m not (for any less than £400 per hour – joke … £450 actually) you’d put that track on with or without the vocals and then let the patient know they are feeling very tired, and relax … etc. Great chilled out version.
Now the various cover versions all contributed something musically, but this is the first one to contribute something equally in visual style. Never heard of Stylophonic before, but they have already impressed with this update on the song. So you’ll notice that these people take the Lou Rawls version to cover but you are left in no doubt that this is no soul track. That’s not a bad thing for this version that is part-techno and all good. So you’re enjoying that element. Then you’re checking the video and you’re thinking – wow, yeah, it’s all about the imagination eh and what better way of portraying that with the sleeping security guard turned ballroom dancer. Quality stuff I tell you.
Thank you Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for writing the song. Thank you Gene Wilder for giving it life on screen so that it would be covered so diversely by different streams of musical thought. And yeah, so it might feel like a sell-out for the song to be used by Sky, but hey – that’s some fair royalties being shared by the creators, so it’s not all bad. This all goes to show what really can happen when we take a trip into our pure imagination. Enjoy.