"Unfinished Sympathy" (originally by Massive Attack)
It’s hard for me to believe that Massive Attack’s seminal trip-hop track "Unfinished Sympathy" came out more than thirty years ago. The song sounds so vital and fresh, it feels timeless. To feel new now, it must’ve sounded like the future of music in 1991. The juxtaposition of the classic soulful vocals with hip-hop scratching and samples made it the perfect track for Tina Turner to show she could adapt to the 90s.
Original singer Shara Nelson is no slouch, but again, the song sounds like it was written for Turner. That might not be so obvious, because of the chasm between Massive Attack and Tina Turner, but once you hear her version, and how natural it sounds, the original will always sound like it was waiting for Tina Turner to cover it.
It’s the lyrics that do it. The yearning and pathos of lines like “The curiousness of your potential kiss/Has got my mind and body aching” is reminiscent of her early torch song power ballads like "River Deep, Mountain High”, and “Soul Deep”.
Tina Turner’s version is very faithful. But of course, Turner’s voice is indelible, so its mere presence makes elevates this beyond a copy. But with the contemporary hip-hop elements retained, it sounds like nothing else in her catalogue.