John Legend and The Roots: Our Generation
Raphael Saadiq: It’s a Shame
Both from Levi’s Pioneer Sessions

These two come from Levi’s “Pioneer Sessions” series where they ask different artists to cover the songs that influenced them. Cool idea though, in my opinion, with uneven results. I really didn’t think the Legend/Roots’ cover of Ernie Hines’ “Our Generation” worked here. I’m always on the fence with Legend’s vocals – sometimes he does a great job with it, other times, it doesn’t quite work and alas, I feel like “Our Generation” goes too far in that latter direction.

Saadiq covering The Spinners is better if only because he doesn’t try to overpower the track. It’s a very loyal cover and if anything, Saadiq is too understated in tackling vocals that G.C. Cameron did a monster job on. I might just be biased – “It’s a Shame” is one of my favorite Motown songs and one of Stevie Wonder’s crowning compositions (would have loved to here him sing it!). The song instrumental is practically unchanged from the original,

From the same series, Nas covers Slick Rick.