by Chris Davis
Jay and the Americans were a vocal group from Long Island. In 1960 Leiber and Stoller— the songwriting duo behind some of Elvis Presley's biggest hits— signed the group for United Artists and gave them "Tonight," from West Side Story, which had just been released as a motion picture. Talk about a perfect match.
20-years after Jay and the Americans recorded "Tonight" it was covered (and pretty fantastically) by British punk/pop band The Look. The best part is a too brief keyboard solo that calls to mind "Telstar."
This noisy and frenetic version of "Officer Krupke" is from the album Punk Side Story by a band called Schlong. Yep, that's their name.
The Muppets version of "America" celebrates the beauty and the chaos of life in the melting pot.
Selena's take on "A Boy Like That," seriously threatens to give club covers a good name.
"Somewhere" is easily West Side Story's most covered song. It has been sent up by DEVO...
It has been tinkered with by Dave Brubeck...
And it has been achingly covered by Tom Waits on his great 1978 album Blue Valentine.
And if you'd like a sample of what the current touring company has to offer, there's also this...
If you have a favorite cover from WSS that I've left out share it with us in comments.