Saturday, March 31, 2012

31 March 2012 - Fiona Apple - Across The Universe

For a little while, Fiona Apple was everywhere.  She had a couple of big, yet edgy hits, with somewhat naughty videos to accompany them.  She was so big, she was able to release an album with the longest title in history.

It is this quiet Beatles cover, from the soundtrack to the movie Pleasantville, that showcases the power of her voice better than any song she ever wrote.  So quietly beautiful, and a perfect accompaniment to a quietly beautiful movie - to this day, one of my favorites, with a lot of excellent performances and fantastic art direction.  Some of that, a black-and-white/color combination, shines through in this video.

For those who care, that long album title was When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight And he'll win the whole thing 'fore he enters the ring There's no body to batter when your mind is your might So when you go solo, you hold your own hand And remember that depth is the greatest of heights And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land And if you fall it won't matter, cause you'll know that you're right.  Don't worry.  I had to look it up.

Friday, March 30, 2012

30 March 2012 - Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know

Before she was the comedienne from The Tracey Ullman Show - which brought us The Simpsons - and Tracey Takes On - for which today's feature was the theme song - Tracey Ullman had a music career.  Her album "You Broke My Heart In 17 Places" was an album of mostly covers.  And off that album came Tracey's only hit - They Don't Know.

What most people in the United States didn't know in 1983, when this song was released, was that it was written and performed by Kirsty MacColl in 1979.  The original was a radio hit in the UK, reaching #2 on the charts there, despite not being released as a single.  This version also reached #2 on the UK charts, and #8 in the US, where everyone thinks Kirsty MacColl is a member of The Pogues.

Of course, Kirsty MacColl didn't have a Beatle appear in her video, either.

And before you all write in, we know that Tracey Ullman was a star in the UK thanks to her work on stage and in several sketch comedies.  She wasn't as fresh faced as she seemed to us in the States.  Still, a great cover.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

29 March 2012 - The Lemonheads - Luka

The Lemonheads were always good for tossing out some pretty cool cover songs on their records. In fact, their biggest "hit" was a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson. Fast forward almost 17 years, the band released Varshons, one of the most diverse cover albums I've ever heard. On it, they pay tribute to GG Allin, Wire, Townes Van Zandt and Christina Aguilera among others. I'd say that's an eclectic mix.

I still think though that their best cover song comes off 1989's Lick. That cover, of course, is their version of the Suzanne Vega classic Luka.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

28 March 2012 - The Breeders - Shocker in Gloomtown

The most successful band ever to be based out of Dayton, Ohio, is clearly The Breeders.  Best known for their hit "Cannonball", which is a fun song, the group started its adult life - the name was from Kim & Kelley Deal's childhood band - as a collaboration between Kim Deal of the Pixies, Tanya Donnelly from Throwing Muses, and Josephine Wiggs from The Perfect Disaster.  Well, Tanya left to go do Belly, and Kim brought Kelley back to the band to play guitar.

This song is a cover by a song originally performed by Dayton, Ohio's best band, Guided by Voices.  The song was from the 7" - yes, it was on vinyl only - Head to Toe. Look closely in the video, which was shot in Kim's Dayton, OH garage.  The guy peeking in the windows of the garage in disgust?  Guided by Voices.

This was not the only cover on the 7".  A third song - Freed Pig - was also there, a cover of a song by the band Sebadoh.  If you get a chance, check it out - all three songs are among the best The Breeders ever did, including the original title track.

A little footnote to this story - the drummer for the Breeders was Jim McPherson.  He later joined Guided by Voices.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

27 March 2012 - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Danny's Song and Goodbye Earl

If there is an official "unofficial" band for Totally Covered and Wicked Guilty Pleasures, I would have to think it would be Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. How could they not be? They are a punk rock supergroup who over the course of nine records have covered guilty pleasures of the 70s and 80s, as well as Motown, country and Broadway hits. Here's a Loggins and Messina cover from their first full-length record Have A Ball.

OK, one more. While this is not an official video, it's too good to not show. Someone took the original Dixie Chicks video and did a little editing to make it work with the obviously sped up Me First version of the song.

Monday, March 26, 2012

26 March 2012 - Letters To Cleo - I Want You To Want Me

I've been a fan of Letters to Cleo since their very first single.  I saw them live in 1995, just days after I got married.  The show was one that I truly enjoyed.  They were a greatly underrated band, and Kay Hanley one of the most underrated vocalist of the past twenty years - her voice is so powerful.  Little known fact: she was a backup vocalist on the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds tour, and did appear in the movie featuring that tour. Little known fact #2: Kay Hanley was the voice of Josie - as played by Rachel Leigh Cook - in the movie Josie and the Pussycats!

So, when this Cheap Trick cover, which originally appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Ten Things I Hate About You,  was released, I embraced it.  Kay Hanley really captures the power and urgency that Robin Zander originally brought to this song, and it some way exceeds it.  The video here is from a 2009 live performance, which shows that they have lost none of their energy or chops!

For those interested, here is the studio version, from the movie, as played over the closing credits.  Yes, that is Letters To Cleo performing on a rooftop with a helicopter circling.  Check in at about the 2:40 mark of this video to check it out. It's pretty powerful itself!  And, if you check out the first two minutes, you'll see the acting of a young Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger.

25 March 2012 - The Mike Flowers Pops - Wonderwall

Oasis were bigger than The Beatles.  If you asked them, of course.  So, I could not think of a better band to have their biggest hit get a lounge-style send up, courtesy of The Mike Flower Pops.  Although I enjoy the original version, this one strangely works.  Check it out!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

24 March 2012 - Mojo Nixon - Girlfriend in a Coma

Mojo Nixon does not give a damn what you think of him.  He raised the ire of MTV early in his career when he took a musical shot at VJ Martha Quinn with his song "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin" - which was freaking hilarious, by the way.  I've been a fan of his since that time, and during his "Elvis is Everywhere" and "Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child" phases, when he teamed up with Skid Roper.

He didn't care what Morrissey thought, either, when he did a lively sendup of a classic Smiths song, declaring himself the anti-Morrissey.  Lyrically, this is a really dark song, and as Morrissey sang it with the Smiths, it was brooding and sad and slyly angry.  When it's sung like this, the way Mojo did, it's more like black humor, and it strangely works.

Friday, March 23, 2012

23 March 2012 - 10,000 Maniacs - More Than This

More than any other band, I have seen 10,000 Maniacs live.  I saw them twice with Natalie as lead vocalist - and met Natalie (you're missing nothing) - and twice with Mary Ramsey - and have met Mary (a lovely woman).   To be fair, I saw them once when they couldn't use the 10,000 Maniacs name, so they used John and Mary, Rob, Steve, Dennis & Jerry as their name.... but they were still 10,000 Maniacs.

I also saw John and Mary, John Lombardo's duo with Mary Ramsey and the reason she was associated with 10,000 Maniacs in the first place, twice - he's also really nice.  He remembered meeting me by name the 2nd time I did - truly remarkable.

So, when they started releasing albums as 10,000 Maniacs with Mary as vocalist, I was quite pleased.  This song was their first single without Natalie.  It is, to this date, their 2nd biggest hit, behind "Because The Night", their last single with Natalie and a cover of a song originally performed by Patti Smith. This song is a cover of a Roxy Music classic, from the 1982 album Avalon.

One more piece before you listen - Mary is also playing viola on this song.  She appeared as a violinist and backup vocalist on the 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged album, from where their biggest hit was culled.   I think the viola adds a new depth to this song that even Bryan Ferry could not provide.


(edit: 2 September 2020): The original video was removed from YouTube. The one ABOVE is a remix of the song.  The one BELOW is the original.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

22 March 2012 - Kelly Clarkson - The Only Exception

First off, I'd like to thank Tony for coming up with another great blog idea (and for also letting me ride his coattails...again). Like Tony, I'm a HUGE fan of bands covering other bands either on stage or on record.

So, much like my debut at Wicked Guilty Pleasures, I'm going to start my time here with Ms. Kelly Clarkson! This Paramore cover, recorded a couple weeks ago in Indiana, stays pretty true to the original, which is fine by me as it's one of my favorite Paramore tunes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

21 March 2012 - The Bangles - If She Knew What She Wants

The second single off their breakthrough Different Light album, after Manic Monday, this song was originally performed by its songwriter, Jules Shear.  The Bangles went on to international stardom and big hit records.  Jules Shear went on to date Aimee Mann and to become an early host of MTV Unplugged, where he got to perform his song. With Michael Penn, who married Aimee Mann.

While Mr. Shear performed his song nicely, The Bangles added a harmonic depth to the song that wasn't there when performed by a solo artist.  It truly was a high-water mark for the band.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 March 2012 - Kelly Willis - Heaven's Just A Sin Away

I have been a fan of Kelly Willis for a very long time, since her very first album, when her record label could not decide how to sell her, before she was a sister-in-law to a Dixie Chick.  (Thankfully, she left that record label). In college, my friends had posters of swimsuit models and actresses and Lita Ford.  I had a poster of Kelly Willis.  No joke.

This is a song originally performed by father-daughter group The Kendalls.  Possibly the song with the second-best title ever, and an old-time favorite of mine from the 70's (please don't tell my mother), Kelly Willis does a very nice job on the cover, giving it a slightly more mature sound.

Monday, March 19, 2012

19 March 2012 - Petra Haden - Let Your Love Flow

I find Petra Haden to be marvelous for a number of reasons.  First of all, she comes from a familiy of musicians, starting with her father, Charlie.  She has been in a number of bands, including her own that dog. - lowercase and period ending on purpose), The Rentals, and her brother Josh's band Spain.  She is a multitalented musician, who plays classical and jazz violin, and did with all those bands.

Which makes this song all the more marvelous.  The only instrument is Petra's voice.  A cover of the classic Bellamy Brothers song, this actually paid the bills and kept the lights on.  But more on that in a minute.

Toyota took notice of this small, independent artist.  And commissioned this song for use in a commercial for their new Prius.  As a result, a lot of people got to hear Petra Haden for the first time.  I instantly recognized her voice the first time I saw the commercial, but others didn't, so thank you, Toyota!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

18 March 2012 - Juliana Hatfield - Cover Me

Several artists have done covers of Bruce Springsteen songs, commissioned by The Boss himself.  The former Sassy magazine cover subject and Blake Babies lead singer does a stripped-down version of a minor hit from the Born In The USA album.

And, lest you think I was kidding about Sassy....

Welcome to this blog

Welcome to this new blog.  Every song posted here was previously recorded by a different artist.  If you have any covers you'd like to see featured here, please let me know in comments or by contacting me on Twitter!