A new a cappella version of the 1972 Looking Glass hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” — featuring the song’s writer and original lead singer, Elliot Lurie, and the Yonge Guns vocal quartet (see second video, below) — got me thinking: Maybe I could put together a post like I did for another New Jersey classic, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” with 20 notable versions of the song.
It turns out I could, though I stopped at 15. There are more than 15 takes on “Brandy” on YouTube, of course. Probably, actually, there are more than 100. But I want to share only versions that I feel are special: Ones that are by well-known artists, or that put an interesting new spin on the song.
One of the things about “Brandy,” I think, is that it’s so perfect that musicians don’t want to make changes to it. So there are a ton of very straightforward versions on YouTube.
So here are my Top 15. I start with Looking Glass’ original version. (As I wrote in my 350 Jersey songs entry on the song, the band formed at Rutgers University in New Brunswick in 1969; had another, smaller hit, “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” in 1973; and broke up in 1974.) This is followed by Lurie’s version with Yonge Guns, and a solo version by him, and then covers by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kenny Chesney. How’s that for range!
Then come a bunch of versions that stand out from the YouTube pack in some way, either by being really good or being really unusual. There are two by a cappella groups, two jazz versions, a ukulele-and-vocals version, and one by a sitar-and-tablas duo. I included the Richard Davidson one (second to last) just for its visuals: Behind Davidson, you see a fire dancer and a bagpipes player. This video had only 11 views. I was shocked: This has viral video written all over it.
The last video is of actress Laura Haddock singing along to “Brandy” in the 2017 movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.”
Here are the videos. Enjoy!
Elliot Lurie, with Yonge Guns
Elliot Lurie, solo
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Reina del Cid
The Virginia Gentlemen
Nick Longo Trio
The Biryani Boys
Laura Haddock (in “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”)
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