A perfect song is usually a combination of songwriting prowess and interpretative brilliance recorded in magical circumstances. There is a rare instance where a song is so naturally incredible that even when covered by highly different artists in varied genres/eras its immaculate qualities still resonate strongly.
Hurt so Bad, orignally penned by Anthony & the Imperials, is just that, a perfect melancholic sweet soul ballad that has lead to memorable cover versions. Let’s start by watching perfection in its purest form: the Imperials first performance of this song on the Ed Sullivan Show which jumpstarted the group’s career and remained their biggest hit and chart topper.
A perfect balance of restraint and emotion is struck in the performance and the song, but its all about the lyrical depth and melodic progression. We have no other choice but to be stuck on every word and note and thrilled until the end of the ride, feeling that the hurt still balances both pain and joy.
Now the Imperials version cant be touched and artists like Nancy Wilson and Linda Rondstat just painted by number with their respective pop and rock versions and garnering huge success, but Nancy Holloway took a more creative approach and created a stunning song in her own right. Balance is key again as Holloway’s version is the perfect mix of psychedelic soul and a more modern aesthetic creating a superbly haunting cover of the song.
Finally, the Philly Devotions took their cover version to another level, bringing a subdued disco touch to the composition. Balance is upheld again as the song never tips over into corny territory and the creative arrangements breath new life and groove into the song. Dimitri from Paris could not resist editing the track to honour the Philly sound.
Hurt so Bad is a special case where the best covers can equal the original and bring in completely different moods from the same musical base.