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Sunday 9 April 2023

Single Song Sunday

This is an unscheduled entry in our long-running occasional series. Not that there is anything resembling a schedule, but this song wasn't even on my list of possible selections until Friday.

Friday's post featured a video of the King of Latin Soul, Mr Joe Bataan. After finding that video on YouTube I dug out his records that I have in my collection. It wasn't long until I got to his great take on "Gypsy Woman", and I remembered that I have half a dozen versions of the song. So here they all are.

Before you switch off, I should clarify that this is the "Gypsy Woman" written by Curtis Mayfield we are talking about, not that irritating la da dee la da dum twaddle by Crystal Waters. 

We start with the original 1961 version by The Impressions. It was the first single featuring Curtis on lead vocals after the departure of Jerry Butler and it got to #20 in the Billboard Hot 100. 

In 1961 Brian Hyland was best known his big hit of the year before, a hard-hitting political folk tune called ""Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini". After several years in the doldrums his career revived in 1970 when his surprisingly decent version of "Gypsy Woman", which was produced by Del Shannon, went all the way to #3 on the charts.

Next up is the Joe Bataan version I mentioned earlier, plus one from Ry Cooder which sounds almost exactly like you would expect a Ry Cooder version of "Gypsy Woman" to sound.

We round things off with not one but two Mandatory Reggae Versions. The Uniques' version, with the mighty Slim Smith on lead vocals, is my favourite but The Mighty Diamonds do a decent job as well.

I have spared you the version Bruce Springsteen did for a Curtis Mayfield tribute album. I know some readers have strong feelings about Bruce. I don't, but I doubt even his biggest fans would consider it to be a career high. 

"Gypsy Woman" - The Impressions

"Gypsy Woman" - Brian Hyland

"Gypsy Woman" - Joe Bataan

"Gypsy Woman" - Ry Cooder

"Gypsy Woman" - The Uniques

"Gypsy Woman" - The Mighty Diamonds


  1. Great versions all, Ernie, none of which I'd heard before outside of The Impressions and The Mighty Diamonds. And those videos... whilst Bobby Womack gets extra points for employing a pseudo Gypsy Woman on stage, you really saved the best til last. I don't think I can squeeze into my shiny jodhpurs and riding boots anymore, unfortunately.

  2. I am going to play the Crystal Waters song first, I've never heard it

    1. That's one of the worst songs you've never posted. I stopped it at 2 mins 41 seconds.

    2. Man Alive that Springsteen cover is dire. And I thought you might have finished with a video of The Band of Gypsys. Obviously not.