Chita Rivera & Marilyn Cooper (West Side Story): “America”

Posted: January 13, 2014 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “America” – West Side Story
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: The Nice vs. Schlong
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)


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West Side Story is one of America’s most acclaimed Broadway musical plays. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is the story of forbidden love between a former gang member and the sister of a rival gang member.  Music for the production was composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim. The show, which opened in 1957, ran for 732 performances before going on tour (it had an even longer-running production in London). West Side Story was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical (the award ultimately went to The Music Man). In 1961 a musical film of West Side Story was produced, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning ten including Best Picture. Ten Academy Awards remains a record for a musical film.


The Original Stage Production Version


Rita Rivera & Marilyn Cooper:


The Film Version


Betty Wand & George Chakiris:

In the film West Side Story Rita Moreno and George Chakiris are the leading vocalists … or maybe not. Moreno’s singing was dubbed in by Betty Wand.


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


The Nice vs. Schlong


The Nice:


Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?



Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. bornunderabadsign says:

    AMERICA! The Nice’s version sounds like an Iron Butterfly x Vanilla Fudge jam and Schlong sounds like Gogol Bordello ran into Weird Al down a dark alley. I give this one to the Nice…

    • RDubbs says:

      Oh the thought of Gogol Bordello throwing down “America” gives me a rush. I see a new off-Off-OFF-Broadway production of West Side Story with a Slovak-Gypsy bent and Gogol Bordello soundtrack. Damn, the un-acted upon gold I sometimes conjure up!

  2. Cuspid says:

    Even though this is Schlong’s only album, they will immortalized through it… kinda like the Sex Pistols. Absolutely brilliant! On the other hand, Nice’s version is pretty gosh-darn good in and if itself. Aside from Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge, I also hear some ELP in there, which comes as no shock given that Keith Emerson is the keyboardist in both. Also fantastic. This is too close to call Dubbsy. I will also say that the behavior and fighting techniques exhibited by the Sharks and the Jets in this clip remind me a lot what I’ve seen of the Boods and the Crips. These gangs are all the same…

    • RDubbs says:

      Schlong actually packed a bevy of singles and eps onto two unmemorable cds: “The Essential Schlong” and “The Unessential Schlong”. Great titles. The music? Not so much. However, they do blast out a very nice tribute to Fleetwood Mac in the form of about 8 thankfully-not-full-length covers (coming to you in the future, only on CMI …).

  3. Arnie Plotnick says:

    Being a big fan of West Side Story (I have the blu-ray version at home, which I’ve watched a few times and never tire of), this was a nice way to start the day. That is Keith Emerson’s very distinctive keyboard stylings, and the whole band is playing very well. Schlong’s version is pretty great as well, but I’m gonna have to give this one to The Nice, for superb musicianship alone.

    • RDubbs says:

      I too am a big fan of West Side Story and had the huge honor of playing Riff in the 7th grade (truth be told I was the only kid in the South Florida class that had a NY accent, which probably sealed the part for me). I’m also a huge fan of Man of La Mancha – Richard Kiley crooning The Impossible Dream is honestly inspirational.

      Given your love for West Side Story and solid punk music I strongly recommend obtaining a copy and listening to Schlong’s masterpiece, Punk Side Story. They do the entire soundtrack word-for-word and virtually all of it is brilliant.

  4. Kerry Black says:

    Their love started out just like Romeo and Juliet, but then it ended in tragedy.

  5. RDubbs says:

    The Nice’s version was, well, nice but Schlong’s rendition is a revelation, an epiphany, and really good in a great kinda way!

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