Thursday, May 31, 2012

31 May 2012 - Fine Young Cannibals - Ever Fallen In Love

Before they were big hitmakers with "She Drives Me Crazy", Fine Young Cannibals were a fun post-punk band with clear ska influences.  They should have that sound - they formed from the ashes of The English Beat, a fun post-punk band with clear ska influences.

This song is from the soundtrack of the grossly underrated "Something Wild", starring Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith who is largely unrecognizable for half the movie, and a young, scene-stealing Ray Liotta.  The tune itself is a cover of the best-known song by The Buzzcocks. FYC does a respectable job popping up a dark and angry song.  Roland Gift's voice is particularly pained-sounding here, which suits Pete Shelley's lyrics quite well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

30 May 2012 - Urge Overkill - Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon

I really liked Urge Overkill's Saturation record when it came out in 1993. Sister Havana and Positive Bleeding were great alt rock singles. Sadly, neither tune became a "hit" on the radio, which is odd considering that the Sister Havana video got some serious airplay on MTV. Urge Overkill finally hit it big though when this previously recorded Neil Diamond cover from 1992's Stull ep appeared in the movie Pulp Fiction.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May 2012 - t.A.T.u. - How Soon Is Now

I've written about the biggest pop act to come out of Russia in the past.  Before, I wrote about them as a guilty pleasure.  Now, I argue that this song, from the very same album, is not at all a guilty pleasure, but a solid cover of a Smiths classic that might even add to the original's force.

Musically, the oscillating guitar sound originated by Johnny Marr is preserved in this cover. These women add a new emotional dimension to the song that Morrissey lacked in his original rendition.  And, to my knowledge, it is the only English language song they never translated - let's not forget that English isn't their first language here.  They perform this beautifully.

They even do it well live.  These ladies are huge stars in their home country! I am very glad that they chose to highlight a song that's been called "The Stairway to Heaven of the 80's" as a single. Enjoy this performance.

Friday, May 25, 2012

25 May 2012 - The Donnas - Strutter

The movie Detroit Rock City was pretty lame, but at least we got this cool version of the Kiss classic - Strutter.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

24 May 2012 - Captain Crime - Ghostbusters

That's right.  This great unsigned band - known now as ORDER 66 - does a lively cover of Ghostbusters. Does it have as much soul as the original Ray Parker Jr. version?  No.  It does, however, have a lot more swagger than the original.

The band is based in Rochester, NY, and I strongly recommend that you check them out.  They keep their Facebook page pretty well updated with dates.

Disclaimer: I might know the lead vocalist.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

23 May 2012 - Iron and Wine - Such Great Heights

I loved the Postal Service record when it came out. I must have played it every night for months. While hanging out with my brother-in-law one day in Oregon (where he lived at the time) a very, very slow version of Such Great Heights played on his car stereo. He told me it was Iron and Wine (a band that I had just recently started listening to). After getting over the initial shock of the slowed-down version of one of my favorite songs at the moment, I realized how cool it actually was. Today's live video is a more uptempo version (I couldn't find an actual video of the original...there are a couple of ones with pictures in the background on YouTube, check 'em out to get the full effect).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 May 2012 - Run DMC - Walk This Way

A collaboration with the original artist, Aerosmith, this song showed that rock and hip-hop could co-exist.  And that the classic rock rhythms still applied.

And yes.  That was Run wiping his nose at 3:23.

Monday, May 21, 2012

21 May 2012 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Higher Ground

Sometime during my sophomore or junior year of high school I went on a road trip with my dad, his girlfriend at the time and some of his friends to Myrtle Beach. I of course, being an annoying teenager (as opposed to now where I'm just an annoying 30-something...things really don't change) spent most of the 20 hour car ride with my headphones on. While looking for my next tape to pop into my Walkman, I was shocked to hear Stevie Wonder on the radio covering my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers song...or so I foolishly thought. Pops quickly straightened me out.

Here's their 1990 performance on Letterman.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

20 May 2012 - Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends

I had a great friend named Mark when I was growing up. We used to talk about music an awful lot.  He was a huge Hall & Oates fan.  He also was quite a Beatles fan.  So, when the topic of this song came up, we had a lively debate as to which was the better version of the song - The Beatles' or Joe Cocker's.  We never did come to consensus on that one, although, in his open-minded way - one of the most open-minded people I've ever met - he could accept that this version was more than a cover, but a reinvention of the song.  It really is a different song.

Mark would have been 40 this month - he passed away in 1995.  I think of him every time I hear this song.

And, for Mark, here is the original.

Friday, May 18, 2012

18 May 2012 - Superchunk - Brand New Love

Superchunk's Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91) was my introduction to what would soon become two of my favorite bands. While I initially bought the record for the legendary song Slack MotherF%cker, I was quickly drawn to a pair of covers, both by a band I had never heard of - Sebadoh. Needless to say, it didn't take me too long before I bought everything I could find by both bands (and still do to this day).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

17 May 2012 - Anni B. Sweet - Take On Me / Emil Bulls - Take On Me

Today is Norwegian Constitution Day, Syttende Mai. What better way to celebrate than two covers of the biggest international hit by one of Norway's national treasures?

Our first cover is by Anni B. Sweet, an Andalucian folk singer.  That's a part of Spain, folks.  A beautiful part of Spain, to be clear.  And this version, a live one from French television, is pure and beautiful and simple.  Different than the original - which was synth-poppy - but it works.

There is an official video version of this song, which might or might not play in its embedded version, but I wanted you to hear. It's a little different from the live version, in that it adds ukulele (and uke smashing!) to the mix.


Our second cover is by German metal band Emil Bulls.  Completely different than the original, and also different than the version above.... but it really works.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 May 2012 - Jenny Owen Youngs - Hot In Herre

I stumbled upon Jenny Owen Youngs about six years ago after hearing her brilliant song F&ck Was I Thinking off her first record Batten the Hatches. In 2007, Youngs released the Take Off All Your Clothes ep which featured a couple different versions of FWIT and this Nelly cover (and yeah, I had to look up who sang the original...I'm hip hop ignorant).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 May 2012 - R.E.M. - Superman

Although they made the song more famous, R.E.M. did not originate this song.  This song was from the late 60's, done by a band named The Clique.

This live version clearly shows the Michael Stipe/Mike Mills dual lead vocal on the song.  I really wish they harmonized more.  They worked well together, vocally.

(Edit: 25 January 2022):  Actually, that's not Michael Stipe.  That's Gary Zekley, who was one of the writers of the song.  The fact is, Michael Stipe didn't much like this song... and isn't at all on stage for this performance.

Monday, May 14, 2012

14 May 2012 - Lucero - Kiss The Bottle

Lucero is an awesome country/punk band from Memphis. Jawbreaker was an awesome punk band from San Francisco. Needless to say, when I found out Lucero was covering my favorite Jawbreaker tune (and quite possibly, my favorite song ever) on their Dreaming in America record, I was pretty psyched...and as expected, Lucero did not disappoint. Here's a pretty rad live version of the tune.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

13 May 2012 - Belle and Sebastian - Crash

Ever since Gilmore Girls, I have wanted to be a fan of Belle and Sebastian.  Lane Kim was a big fan of Belle and Sebastian.  Try as I might, I am not a fan of the original music that Belle and Sebastian do, with a few exceptions. It's not that they're doing anything wrong - they make bright and happy pop music.  I just don't find it entirely appealing.

On the other hand, their covers are fantastic.  Fan-freaking-tastic! This cover of a Primitives classic - recall that we featured them doing someone else's song a couple of weeks ago - makes that perky song into a bit of a slow jam, without losing any of its pop appeal.  Plus, the video is cute.

Friday, May 11, 2012

11 May 2012 - Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls

When I first heard in 1992 that Tori Amos was covering Smells Like Teen Spirit on her Crucify ep, I was a bit mortified. Of course once I actually heard it, I dug it. It's different. Over the years she has done the same with a number unexpected tunes. In 2001, she released Strange Little Girls a collection of 12 covers with artists ranging from Eminem, Lloyd Cole, The Beatles and Slayer. If you haven't heard it, check it out. It's become one of my favorite records by her. Here's the video for the title track (originally done by The Stranglers).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 May 2012 - Frank Black - Hang On To Your Ego

Yesterday, Scott shared a great cover by The Pixies.  Today, I am bringing you a cover by Black Francis Frank Black, lead vocalist of The Pixies, bringing you an alternate version of a song from The Beach Boys great Pet Sounds album.

Those familiar with either original - Hang On To Your Ego is also known as I Know There's An Answer, with slightly different lyrics - know that there's a dreamy, jug-band quality to The Beach Boys versions, musically.  This version is more straight-ahead rock, with The Pixies's Joey Santiago joining in on guitar, and less dreamy musical experimentation and bass harmonica.

Interesting story about the original after the video:

The controversy on this song, the original version, which Brian Wilson wrote and sang, is that the title refers to the effects of LSD on the user.  Mike Love objected - that wasn't his scene - and so Brian Wilson decided to change the lyrics.  It was rerecorded with Love and Al Jardine on the lead vocals.  Both versions are preserved on reissues of Pet Sounds.  And, in my opinion, they both work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

9 May 2012 - The Pixies - Head On

Haha! Stole another Boston band from Mr. D'Orazio...

I love The Pixies. They have been one of my favorite bands ever since I first heard them on a small local alternative radio station in my hometown. While I never got to see them in their late 80s/early 90s heyday ("cruel" parents didn't want their 15-year-old crossing the border to see them in Toronto), I did get to see them on one of their reunion tours a few years ago. To say it was a thrilling experience would be a gross understatement. I sang myself hoarse at that show.

So here they are covering a Jesus and Mary Chain classic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

8 May 2012 - Dynamite Hack - Boys In The Hood

Do these boys have any cultural understanding when it comes to this song?  No.  But they do recognize a classic, and, as much as they were going for laughs when covering this Eazy E tune, they made a song that works.  Who knew that such lyrics would work on an acoustic guitar?  It is a testament to the lyrical genius of the late Eazy that it works, even in this format!

Monday, May 7, 2012

7 May 2012 - Marie Digby - Umbrella

Here's Marie Digby's acoustic Rihanna cover from her debut record Unfold. I saw her play a short, but fun 15-20 minute set on one of the backstages at the last Lilith Tour (see photo below).

...and here she is playing the song at a radio station gig.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

6 May 2012 - CSS - Pretend We're Dead

I've met Donita Sparks.  Lovefoxxx is NOT Donita Sparks.

Actually, that first statement is true.  1995 Warped Tour, Northhampton, MA.  Briefly met Donita Sparks, as her band, L7, was the headlining act on that tour.  Also had my hand on her in indelicate ways as she crowdsurfed (I wasn't actually trying to have my hand on her in indelicate ways - I just was trying not to drop her). They were fantastic.

CSS is not L7 in any way, shape, or form, but they make a hardcore slowjam work as a dance club classic. Frankly, despite my opening statement to this post, Lovefoxxx does have a particular stage presence, that, while different, does at the very least match and in some way exceeds the outgoing stage presence of the crowdsurfing Donita Sparks.

Lovefoxxx does speak better Portuguese, though.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

5 May 2012 - Loretta Lynn - She's Got You

Patsy Cline was Loretta Lynn's best friend.  Well after Patsy's death, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty did an album in remembrance of her.  On the album was a conversation between the two, remembering their friend who had passed.

I always enjoyed Loretta Lynn's cover of this song, even a little more than the original.  Which I know is blasphemy.  But, still, you should give it a listen.

Friday, May 4, 2012

4 May 2012 - Manda and the Marbles - I Wanna Go Home

Another quickie from me today...I suppose I'll play off Tony's post from yesterday and do another Holly and the Italians cover, this time by Columbus, Ohio's Manda and the Marbles.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

3 May 2012 - Transvision Vamp - Tell That Girl To Shut Up

Two days ago, we featured a recent single by The Primitives.  Today, we feature a band with whom they were compared an awful lot, Transvison Vamp.  Contemporaries in the UK music scene in the late 80's and early 90's, they both played guitar-driven rock and had a bleached-blonde female lead vocalist.

Hair color, however, is the only similarity that Wendy James has with Tracy Tracy.  TV was a far more straight-ahead rock band, with a rougher sound and more salacious vocals.  They were also ignored in the US far more than The Primitives were.  This song, their first US single, is a cover of a song originally done by Holly and the Italians - in my opinion, it far exceeds the original.

Also, Wendy James went on to have a solo career and didn't reform her band 21 years after the release of their last album to go on tour.  But we can hope that she still will.

By the way, their 2nd album, Velveteen, is one of my five favorites of all time, and you need to check it out.  This song was off their excellent first album, Pop Art.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2 May 2012 - Pearl Jam - Last Kiss

Pearl Jam originally recorded this J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers song during a soundcheck and released it as their 1998 fan club Christmas single. As I recall, radio flipped for it (as did I) and it was subsequently released to the public in 1999 via the the No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees cd. Believe it or not, it's Pearl Jam's highest charting single, as it went to No. 2 on the Billboard charts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1 May 2012 - The Primitives - The Witch

Many of you remember The Primitives with their platinum blond lead singer from the late 80's.  They're best known for their song "Crash", which was a minor hit in the US and a major one in the UK.  They released three albums, through the early 90's, and then disappeared.    Pressure from having a blond-headed lead vocalist with an early hit proved to be too much for them.

So, imagine everyone's surprise when their fourth album was released yesterday.  The group reformed a couple of years ago to start touring, and made an excellent EP (Never Tell A Secret - please check it out).  This album, their first full-length affair in more than two decades, is an entire album full of obscure covers originally made by bands with female lead vocalists from 1968 to 1973 .

The first single is a cover by the German band Adam and Eve.  You've likely never heard the original, but this version is a gem.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tracy Tracy (the aforementioned platinum blond vocalist, real name Tracy Catell) has lost none of her swagger.  Also, we hope that it's not another 20 years before we hear anything else from them.