Recycle It!: Squaring Off On 'Mean Sleep'

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So which is better, the original or the remake? You probably said 'the original, duh', right? I mean, I liked 1987's Can't Buy Me Love over 2003's Love Don't Cost A Thing....the original is always better. Well, to an extent. Though Cree Summer did  "Mean Sleep" first before Van Hunt, I like to think of Hunt's version as a sequel...the second chapter, the cherry additive in Coke, a spin-off if you will. "Mean Sleep" isn't wholeheartedly well known for the fact that it was never officially released as a single and remains an album track on two records that few people probably even know about. But man, is it a great song.

Cree Summer's name has a familiar ring to it, as she is most known for being the exuberant student I wish I had been in college, Freddie Washington from A Different World, and she was also used her vocal talents to do cartoon voices, her most memorable being Susie from the Rugrats. She also used her (singing) vocal talents as she released one album in 1999 called Street Faire. Street Faire, is a stellar alt-soul-rock adventure and it's amazing to me that her singing career never took off. It's a great album and on it she joined friend (and producer of Faire), Lenny Kravitz on a rousing Blues and guitar laden, "Mean Sleep"...a song co-written by a then-unknown Van Hunt.

It's all kinds of criminal activity that Van Hunt isn't more well known as he is one of my favorite artists (On The Jungle Floor and his unreleased, Popular are near and dear to me) and before he began releasing his own material he wrote and produced for others such as Summer. Flash to 2006, and Hunt has resurrected "Mean Sleep" on his On The Jungle Floor record, and though it features the same set-up of trading off male and female vocals, it's different.

Hunt's version (with Nikka Costa taking the female response) subtracts some funk elements (and obviously Kravitz's wailing guitar) of the original take and makes the song into a staggering piano driven ballad, something that fits Costa and Hunt's ranges perfectly. So I'm throwing the question, which is better Cree's original or Hunt's "sequel"? Maybe I'm copping out, but this is one of those times where I can never decide which is better (see "This Woman's Work" for another brain buster) considering I like all that was in involved in both versions and how both were executed.

Mean Sleep (Cree Summer & Lenny Kravitz)

Mean Sleep (Van Hunt & Nikka Costa)

5 comments:

  1. Cree Summer and Lenny's is better.

    I thought Van/Nikka's was a bit of a snooze on his album, but I get why he included it. The collaboration just didnt' work as well. Cree's voice is haunting and that is one of the best albums I have EVER purchased. Love it!

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  2. I think I liked Cree/Kravitz better. It just had this crazy energy to it (and no I"m not referring to tempo or guitar). Something about the chemistry of the two made it work. I do, however love Nikka Costa too.

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  3. Cree's version is funktastically better. Street Faerie needs to be rediscovered.

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  4. Cree & Lenny.

    That entire 'Street Faerie' album is one of my favorites.

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  5. i love both sets of artist. and the song is killer. of course Lenny y Cree are me pick.

    van's version is almost gospel, i love Nikka's delivery, no so much for Van on this track

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