Paolo Nutini Covers “Spanish Harlem” Live on KCRW

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by Larry Hirshowitz

by Larry Hirshowitz

From Led Zeppelin to Laura Nyro and, of course, Ben E King, the 1960 Leiber + Stoller + Spector track “Spanish Harlem” is a classic.

King first released it in 1960 (his first hit away from The Drifters) and there have been over 150 recordings of the song.

But it’s particularly interesting to hear a Scottish singer-songwriter with an Italian-sounding name take on a song about a neighborhood with rich cultural heritage.

The raw emotion and vocals we see in Paolo Nutini’s original material is traded here for simple beauty and sweetness.

On his current tour, Paolo chose the historic Apollo Theater for his NYC outing, taking his adoration of American soul music to the next level.

He did not hold back for his MBE set either, bringing in an incredible band – including a great horn section – to perform songs from his latest album “Caustic Love”.

The track “Let Me Down Easy” is a shining star on the record, processing the pain of heartbreak and lost love with a tremendous amount of heart and soul. (also worth noting that it uses a sample from the great Bettye LaVette)

Find the full session here.

RR