September 18 – The Court Case That Went Gold

A famous Supreme Court case of the 1950s made it onto rock radio in 1972. Fifty years ago today, Three Dog Night had the #1 song in the U.S. with “Black and White.” It was their third chart-topper in two years, but also ended up being their final one.

Three Dog Night were briefly an immensely popular California band which stood out because of its having three different lead singers – Danny Hutton, Cory Wells and Chuck Negron. Hutton sang lead on this one, coincidentally Negron had sung lead on one of the other #1s (“Joy to the World”) and Wells on the other (“Mama Told Me Not To Come”) although they tended to frequently harmonize on choruses on most of their records. And like the other two big hits and in fact, almost all their material, they didn’t write it. This particular song had gone back nearly two decades.

Black and White” was written in 1954 by David Arkin – actor Allan’s dad – shortly after the famous “Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka” court case. That one ruled it was illegal for schools to be segregated. Arkin actually made a children’s book out of the words. Folk singer Earl Robinson soon put music to it, and Pete Seeger recorded a folksie version of it in the mid-’50s. Three Dog Night though heard a reggae-style cover of it done by the band Greyhound, and modeled their take on it after that one. They also decided to drop one verse from the song : “Their robes were black, their heads were white; the schoolhouse doors closed so tight; nine judges all set down their names; to end years and years of shame.”

With that part excised, it was a fairly universal and timeless message of racial unity and tolerance and of appreciating children. To heighten that, they got a childrens choir to add their voices to the final verse and chorus. It was likely a message they believed in personally as they were among the first racially-integrated bands to become successful in the States.

The song came from Seven Separate Fools, their sixth album put out in four years. It was also the sixth-straight to go gold at home for them. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys picked it as one of his ten favorite albums not long back, noting “Danny Hutton’s vocals are truly on point.”

Black and White” also went to #1 in Canada and New Zealand but failed to chart in Britain where they had very limited success overall.

September 16 – Bolan’s ’70s Image Was No Dinosaur

Britain lost its’ favorite “20th Century Boy” 45 years ago today – Marc Bolan. The singer died at age 29 in a car crash in London this day in 1977.

The T-Rex frontman was a passenger in his girlfriend Gloria Jones’ car when it ran off the road and hit a tree. Jones was a singer herself, being the singer who first recorded “Tainted Love”, the huge ’80s Soft Cell hit. Bolan was born Mark Feld but took his stage-name in the 60s with “Bolan” being short form for BOb dyLAN, whom he idolized and emulated at one time. However, by the end of the decade he’d started the band T-Rex, which was  far removed from the blue-jeans-and-politics delivery of Dylan. Bolan would soon become one of the originators of the sound and glitzy style that became “glam rock.” David Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti remembers “What I saw…Marc Bolan was raw talent. I saw genius…I saw a potential rock star in Marc, right from the minute I met him.” Over here, the band was little known besides for the single “Bang a Gong, Get it On.” In the UK though, they were one of the dominant acts for years, with four #1 singles: that one plus “Metal Guru”, “Hot Love” and “Telegram Sam”, plus four more which hit #2… all between 1970-72! . They went on to be a significant influence on the likes of Morrissey and Johnny Marr of the Smiths, R.E.M., Bauhaus/Love & Rockets and even their elders, The Who. Morrissey was a particularly big fan. “”What kind of kids love T Rex?” he mused, “School-hating anarchists.” “20th Century Boy”, covered by the likes of the Replacements and Chalk Circle in the ’80s, had a second chart-life in Europe in 1991 when Brad Pitt appeared in a Levis ad using the song. Columnist Stephen Patience pointed out the irony in that as Bolan “himself was more of a satin-flares man” than blue jeans enthusiast !

After his death, T Rex tunes were covered by bands as varied as Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Bauhaus and Adam Ant, plus of course Robert Palmer’s Power Station, which had a hit with “Bang A Gong, Get it On.” London placed a statue and commemorative plaque in his honor near where he had the fatal accident, on what would have been his 60th birthday.

September 13 – The King Of Cover Songs

Readers might remember that earlier this summer, we ran a Turntable Talk feature on “cover songs”, with various regulars here weighing in on what makes a good cover song , or when they were utterly redundant. Well, that caught the attention of one of our readers, Randy who is so interested in the concept that he has a site of his own devoted to cover songs – Mostly Music Covers. He wrote in with some thoughts, and as today is the 57th anniversary of the release of one of the most “covered” pop songs of all-time – “Yesterday” by The Beatles – we thought we’d share his thoughts on the subject with you. Randy writes:

If artists didn’t cover songs, then very often you would never have heard the song. I could give you hundreds of examples but here are just a couple easy ones, “Time Is On My Side” by the Rolling Stones and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies. On the other hand, we have songs that are covered right out of the gate: ever hear of a tune called “Yesterday”? Released in the U.S. on September 13, 1965, it was recorded over 70 times in 1966 alone and it has maintained its status as the most covered pop song of all time with thousands of versions. So, who were these bandwagon jumping wannabe’s that couldn’t come up with their own iconic ballad? If we put aside the 13 covers from 1965 and focus on 1966, we have names such as Sarah Vaughn, The Supremes, Brenda Lee, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, John Denver, Andy Williams, Patti LaBelle, Perry Como, Count Basie and an up and comer named Freda Payne. These are the instantly recognizable names from just one year alone. There are more icons of the music world such as Tom Jones, Joan Baez, Tammy Wynette, Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight just up to 1968 and the first of 14 covers in 1969 was by Frank Sinatra. Not your typical “follow the leader” kind of people.

As has been discussed by many of us to great extent, is the motivation behind the recording of a cover song. First, we need to understand a bit of the evolution of the term itself. I think we can all agree on the basic definition: the rerecording of an original song. In the early days of recording, a popular song was produced by a record label primarily to literally smother the original and any competing versions. After all, it was all about sales. The label hoped that their performer would outsell the other guy. For the buying public if you had a favorite Orchestra/Big Band then the chances are you could get their version of the popular songs of the day. Despite it being profitable for most labels, in the early days few people could afford a phonograph and buy records, so it was radio or the jukebox at the local jazz club. Regionality played a big part as well, records were not manufactured just anywhere nor were there sophisticated distribution methods. Much easier to make the same song with a different artist on the West Coast than ship the original. Regardless, these cover versions would most often be almost identical to the original, whether instrumental or with vocals, the music, arrangement the whole thing was a copy. Ok – maybe your vocalist was female, and the others were male, but the premise was to mimic. This was the way of the cover song for many years.

I shan’t bore you with the whole life cycle of the cover song and indeed every song has its story. Some are like the cicada and only come out every 17 years or so, some are of the more perennial variety. Let’s get back to “Yesterday” as we can surmise many motivations. First, if I am a record label, competing or otherwise I want a piece of the sales action on a massively popular song. If I am a recording artist, I want to keep both my label and my fans happy and loyal to me. Sometimes my contract made me do it. Oh, sure many covers were done as a tribute, some were heartfelt and full of emotion. Some had a different take on the song but most I have to say stick close to the original. This was a pivotal point in cover song history as there was no other song that captured the attention and the vast number of covers like “Yesterday” and there has not been another song to rival it since. This is of course excluding Christmas songs, and a few select ‘standards’ such as the showtune “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess or the ditty known as “Greensleeves” circa 1580.

Seasonal songs are a bit easier to explain, and no we don’t need another rendition of “Silent Night”, but new ones will appear on your favorite artists Christmas album and orchestras and choirs issue recordings annually. As to the non-traditional or ‘pop’ song, why do we have anywhere from a dozen to hundreds and even thousands of versions? I am all for an artist putting their own ‘spin’ on a song, often we see this when the song switches genre such as Johnny Cash and “Hurt” or Disturbed with “The Sound of Silence”. One of the greatest songs ever, and not just my opinion is a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” by Aretha Franklin who, as we all know turned the song on its head to create a new work of art. But a different voice to a song is sometimes all it takes. An amazing and beautiful song is sometimes just that, and we enjoy hearing it again and again by the same or different performers.

Often, it’s a cover of a legendary artist like Bob Dylan who has been out-charted on his original songs more than any other performer. Case in point “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns n’ Roses or “Quinn the Eskimo” by Manfred Mann (“Mighty Quinn”) to name just a few. For over 50 years Billboard’s most successful single was Chubby Checkers “The Twist” which was a deliberate note for note cover of Hank Ballard’s original. Or it may be something more obscure such as Tony Bennett’s signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. First performed by Claramae Turner in 1954 and for several years live on stage but never put to vinyl, so the first record release was by Ceil Clayton in 1960 and she did not chart. By happenstance it made its way to Bennett, then it was casually released as a “B” side in 1962. DJ’s however (as they often do) had minds of their own and ignored the “A” side and went straight to San Francisco and Bennett had a Gold Record, a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and another for Best Male Solo Performance. Now that’s some motivation to cover a song! Many a Grammy has been won with a cover song.

My major source of reference is Secondhandsongs.com, which is an incredible and reliable database containing over one million cover songs. After obsessing over covers for an long time, I have been writing about them for over four years. I am thrilled to be included in Dave’s post today. Thanks, and happy listening.

September 4 – ‘Nine Tonight’ Did Better Than That On Charts

Many bands have reputations as great live acts. However, few of them carry that over and are able to sell many live albums; Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton were definitely outliers in the ’70s in that respect. But one more exception is Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band. They had a hit with Live Bullet in 1976, when they were just rising to national fame, and took another shot at it five years later with Nine Tonight which came out this day in 1981. Once again, he seemed to hit the winning formula.

It came out a year after Against the Wind, which elevated him to superstar status and the record was pulled from concerts on the tour for that album, one from Boston and one from his hometown of Detroit. And, while two live albums in five years might seem excessive, most of the 16 tracks came from records made after the previous live one. Seger had written all but three tracks and one of the trio done by others was known as “his” song – “Old Time Rock’n’Roll”, written by George Jackson and Thomas Jones. A cover of Chuck Berry’s “Let it Rock” was the finale, and he added in an older soul song, ”Trying to Live My Life Without You.” That one had been done originally a label mate of Al Green’s, Otis Clay in 1973, but despite being performed on Soul Train hadn’t taken off… until Seger got to it! Other tracks included a number of his familiar hits, mostly from the end of the ’70s and Against the Wind, like “Night Moves,” “Her Strut” and “Against the Wind” itself, with a few lesser-known ones like “You’ll Accompany Me.”

The tour it was culled from was their first that crossed Europe, and according to backing vocalist Shaun Murphy, “this was when the frenzy started to kick in…we had crossed the precipice.” She added “you’d look out in the audience and people were all singing all the words. That hadn’t happened to Bob (before)”.

Latter reviews were mixed for it. Ultimate Classic Rock called it his “victory lap” while allmusic gave it 3-stars, significantly less than the first live album’s 5. They didn’t seem to think it was a bad album, but did note “”the live versions here stick pretty close to the studio versions,” although “the cut of ‘Old Time Rock’n’Roll’ included here proves to be better than the original.”

His fans may have thought so too. Either way, the album made it to #3 at home and #6 in Canada, and hit the top 30 in Britain and Australia. Much of that was from “Trying to Live My Life Without You”, which hit #5 – his fifth top 10 hit song – in the U.S. and #11 in Canada. “Feel Like A Number” made it into the top 30 in Canada while the live take on “Hollywood Nights” did reasonably well in the UK. When all was said and done, the release (a double album, but put out later as a single CD with the Chuck Berry song shortened from its 10-minute plus length to make it fit) went 4X platinum at home, the biggest selling live record since the Eagles live one a year earlier.

August 2 – People Got Together Over Youngbloods…Eventually

The masses turned onto one of the 1960s defining tunes this day in 1969… a song which had a Hippie-friendly message that (sadly) still seems highly relevant today. The Youngbloods hit the U.S. top 40, 53 years ago with “Get Together.” Of course, some listeners already knew the song. It had been released originally two years earlier, but more or less flopped, but was performed live by an array of popular artists including Joni Mitchell, the Stone Poneys and even Johnny Cash and had become fairly popular in ’68 when several Public Service Announcements had utilized it.

It was something of a long way coming for The Youngbloods. They’d formed as a duo four years earlier, with two folk singers who had regional popularity in the Northeast (and then curiously found it in Canada before the rest of the U.S. warmed to them.) There was Jesse Colin Young, a guitar and bass player who actually sang lead vocals on the hit, and Jerry Corbitt, a guitarist and pianist who sang a number of their tunes. Along the way they added drummer Joe Bauer, and multi-instrumentalist Lowell Levinger, and got signed to a branch or RCA Records.

They put out their debut, self-titled album in the “Summer of Love” – 1967. they had a few originals and several covers of old Blues numbers originally done by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt. This song had been written close to a decade earlier by Chet Powers, a curious entertainer who often went by Dino Vallenti and was in the Quicksilver Messenger Service. The Kingston Trio were first to record it, then the Jefferson Airplane did. But it remained reasonably obscure. However, Young loved the song.

That song struck me in a deep and spiritual way,” he’d later say, “I knew that it would be with me the rest of my life.” And it would seem he was right. And with a lot of others too. With its catchy pro-peace chorus and lines like “smile on your brother now/ everybody get together/ try to love one another right now”, it fit the times and mood of the youth perfectly…and seems just as important today.

Although released as a single in ’67, it scraped up to only #62 at home for them and could have been forgotten were it not for the ads in got used in the next year. RCA sensed its popularity after that, put it out again and this time it rose to #5 and earned them a gold single. In Canada, where it was a top 40 hit the first time around, it climbed to #6.

However, four more Youngbloods albums failed to generate anything close to as popular as this one, and save for a brief reunion tour in the mid-’80s that was the band was done by 1972.

The hit however, lives on. Still an Oldies radio staple, it’s also been kept in the public eye (or ear) by use in other media. Several TV shows like The Simpsons and Cold Case have featured it as have Vietnam-era movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Forrest Gump. However, its most famous re-use may have been in 1995 when Pepsi used it in a commercial featuring Pepsi and Coke drivers bonding – briefly – at a diner over a Pepsi.

August 1 – The Turntable Talk, Round 5 : Cover Songs, The Good, The Bad, The Unnecessary

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! By now, if you’re a regular reader here – and if you are, thank you, I appreciate your time here – you know how this runs. We’ve invited several interesting and talented music writers to sound off on the same topic. In the past we’ve looked at topics like why the Beatles are still relevant, whether MTV and the video sensation helped or harmed music and great debut records which took them by surprise. This time around, it’s “Cover Me”. Much of what we hear and love is songs which aren’t original to the artists we hear. So we’re asking what makes a great cover song? Are there any that stand out as being very good, or even better than the original? (I add that we’re restricting this to cover songs in which the original was fairly popular or well-known. Thus ones which are cover songs but where the original was obscure, like perhaps The Clique’s “Superman,” made a hit by R.E.M., wouldn’t be counted.)

Today, we finish off the topic with a few more thoughts from A Sound Day. We thank the six writers who took the time to share their ideas about it, as well as some great tunes, in the past week..

Cover songs. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re an integral part of the music of the past 50 or more years. And I think the safest thing to say is that it’s silly to uniformly “love” them or “hate” them. Each one deserves to be judged on its own merits. And whether or not you like a particular song, an artist is well within their rights to record a cover version, as long as they give the appropriate credit to the original writers. Even the worst cover of a song that you love the original of will help the first artist by earning them some money from the writing credits.

That said, here at A Sound Day, we agree with the sentiments several people expressed…namely that it’s redundant at best, almost insulting at worst, to merely duplicate an already well-known song. One example that was mentioned here by other contributors was Todd Rundgren’s “Good Vibrations.” I don’t like disparaging Todd; in fact regular readers know that we lobbied for his inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He’s a fine songwriter, performer and producer. That said, his take on the Beach Boys classic was so good it was bad. “Runt” set out to make a version as close to the Beach Boys original as he possibly could. He succeeded. In fact, if you’re not listening carefully or the record is on in the background in a store, for example, you’ll likely think it is the Beach Boys original. But therein lies the problem – it was utterly unnecessary. It didn’t do anything much different with the song. Even his voice comes close to the Beach Boys on it. And as it came out in 1976, it followed the “real” one by a little under ten years. Fans of Todd’s were by and large entirely old enough to remember the original version. Heck, they likely had the Beach Boys original in their collection. So, in the end, Todd’s little experiment was neat in a scientific sort of way – how close to the original could he come. But he should have done it for his own pleasure if he was so determined, and not wasted anyone’s time by releasing it.

Which leads me to the two reasons I think an artist can make a cover song which stands up and is entirely worthwhile. One, if it introduces a song to a whole new audience. Or two, if they take it and do something utterly different with the song, in effect make it their own…the sort of anti-Rundgren if you will.

Let’s look at the first one. Rundgren’s fault with “Good Vibrations” was probably picking a song so very well-known. Had he picked say, “I Know There’s An Answer”, a Beach Boys song from around the same time but one which was a little-heard album track, it might have been better. He could have still proved his studio prowess to those who cared, but he’d have been presenting a song to the masses that most didn’t know. So, if you’re going to pick a song to do a cover of, pick one that your fans probably don’t know by heart. Usually this would mean doing an obscure track, or a track from long ago, or one from a different genre of music altogether. If you’re a thrash metal band, doing a cover of a Hank Williams song would be an opportunity to do something different and in all likelihood, very, very few of your fans would know the original, even if it was once a big hit on the country charts. Van Halen followed that plan, to some degree on Diver Down that Deke wrote about. Even though some of their fans likely were Kinks fans on some level, they probably didn’t know “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?:. After all, it wasn’t released as an A-side to a single and it came out 17 years earlier. 14 year-old Dekes, and all those like him, took it at face value as a cool, new Van Halen song.

One more way to introduce a song to a new audience is to take a song which was a regional hit and record it for another market. We Canadians know something of that. 54/40 had many fans at home, and “I Go Blind” was well-known there and got a fair bit of FM radio play. But outside of the Great White North, essentially no one at all knew it. Except Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish apparently, who recorded a cover only three or four years after the original. It was an American hit with very few of their fans having a clue as to who 54/40 was. Ditto for Santana’s fine take on Ian Thomas’ “Hold On.” It was a U.S. top 20 less than two years after Thomas had the original on Canadian -but not other lands’ – charts.  The same holds true for other smaller markets. For every Men at Work or Crowded House we come to love worldwide out of Australia or New Zealand, there are scores of Hunters & Collectors and Mental as Anythings, fine acts with a great following – and good songs – there, but virtually unknown elsewhere. A good source of a quick, “new” song for internationally-loved artists and source of new revenue for the Aussie musicians.

But if you choose to do a well-known song, as Rundgren had done, the way to make it stand out and live on is to make it your own. Do something entirely different than the original, give it a whole new approach or even meaning with your presentation. Johnny Cash did that with the NIN’s “Hurt” written about yesterday by Max. So too, Devo with their whimsical, electronic version of the Stones’ all-time classic, “Satisfaction.” Everyone knew the song, but no one was saying “hey is that Mick Jagger?” . Perhaps the best-loved example of this was Joe Cocker, a man who made a big career out of doing little other than covers. His first big hit? A cover of the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends.” He released it in 1968, barely a year after the original.

To do that was astonishing. It took…well, let’s say “chutzpah.” To take a well-known song by the best-loved band in the world, from their opus which was still on the charts at the time no less, and put it out as a single so soon after the one the masses knew and loved. Imagine if some loud British prog rock act tried to put out their own version of “Stairway to Heaven” at Christmas, 1972…then multiply that a few times over. To do so risked not only having a flop, but something close to career suicide. Cocker ran the risk of winning the wrath of Beatles fans everywhere (which was much the same as saying “pop or rock fans everywhere” back then). They could have easily taken offense at his gall and received it as him – close to a new kid on the block – telling the world “I’m better than the Beatles. You don’t need them if you have me.” A similar actual comment from Terrence Trent Darby derailed his career almost before it got started two decades later. Yet Cocker ended up being lauded for his song, which went to #1 in Britain! Because he took the song and made it something different… heartfelt, bluesy, gritty, busting with emotion. A lightweight, poppy ditty was made into a blues number that tore at people’s heartstrings. Even its detractors – and yes there were a few (to be candid, yours truly among them) – had to admit, he made the song interesting and new. It didn’t sound like him saying “I’m out of ideas, so I’m going to copy a hit song you already know”. It was “this song has emotion and depth you never knew and it speaks to my soul.” And it spoke to many others too apparently.

As we wrap it up, although we’ve had a lot of great examples, well “covered” by our guest writers the past week, a few songs came to mind that hadn’t been mentioned but deserve some mention. Like “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins (which was pretty true to the original but doubtless introduced some to the pleasures of early Motown) , “The Runner” – another Ian Thomas song – by Mannfred Mann and just about anything at all by the duo of Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet. You could probably quickly come up with your own list of a dozen or more.

So there you have it. Cover songs. No right or wrong. Some good, some bad, some pointless…but if they make you happy, ultimately they’ve done something good.

July 30 – The Turntable Talk, Round 5 : 18 Out Of 19 Ain’t Bad

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! By now, if you’re a regular reader here – and if you are, thank you, I appreciate your time here – you know how this runs. We’ve invited several interesting and talented music writers to sound off on the same topic. In the past we’ve looked at topics like why the Beatles are still relevant, whether MTV and the video sensation helped or harmed music and great debut records which took them by surprise. This time around, it’s “Cover Me”. Much of what we hear and love is songs which aren’t original to the artists we hear. So we’re asking what makes a great cover song? Are there any that stand out as being very good, or even better than the original? (I add that we’re restricting this to cover songs in which the original was fairly popular or well-known. Thus ones which are cover songs but where the original was obscure, like perhaps The Clique’s “Superman,” made a hit by R.E.M., wouldn’t be counted.)

Today, we have Keith from Nostalgic Italian, a site where he looks back at his years in radio as well as other things worth remembering from the glorious time that was the late-20th Century. Speaking of his radio days, we’re pleased that Keith has agreed to talk about the radio business and changes he’s seen in it. Look for that sometime next week. In the meantime, he likes some cover songs: 

This blog is part of the next installment of Dave from A Sound Day’s Turntable Talk. This time around, the subject is “cover songs.”

So what cover songs work great for you?

Cover Songs

If you do a Google search on “cover songs,” there are plenty of links to articles containing lists of “the best” ones. There are also links to video’s that feature countdowns and lists of “best and worst” cover songs. Those lists, no doubt, will include: “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles, “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner, “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam, “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol, “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, and many many more!

Many people are unaware that some of their favorite songs are actually cover songs. A lot of the early Rolling Stones and Beatles songs were actually covers of songs they loved by other artists. In a way, a cover song is the ultimate “hat tip” to a band’s early influence.

Personally, I tend to love cover songs. If you were to grab my iPod, that becomes very clear! I recall a time when I was married to my ex-wife and her iPod was dead. She wanted to go walk and asked if she could take mine instead. Upon returning home, she said to me, “How many different versions of a song do you need?!”

Cover Song Example

Dave asked “what makes a good” cover song? He also asked, “Do you like ones really faithful to the original, or ones that spin it in an altogether direction?

It is difficult for me to say what exactly makes a good cover song because I think it can be one that is faithful to the original, spun in a different direction, or a mixture of both of those elements. Take for example, the Rodgers and Hart song – “Blue Moon”.

The song was written in 1934. There were recordings made as early as 1935. One of the best known versions is the Doo Wop hit from 1961 by the Marcels. Dean Martin did a stripped down version with piano and drums that was performed as a slow ballad. Frank Sinatra’s version was more “swingy”. Sam Cooke’s “bounced” and in 1997 a swing band called the Jive Aces covered it as a bouncy boogie woogie sounding cover. Every single version I mentioned, I like for different reasons.

Some of My Favorite Covers

If I were to make a list of all the cover songs I have on my iPod and feature one a day on my blog, I would have enough songs to write about for about six months! Instead, I grabbed a piece of paper and off the top of my head started jotting down the cover songs that came to mind. I gave myself five minutes to do this and came up with about 18 songs. The reality is that I know that I will complete this blog and after it posts say, “Oh, man! I forgot (insert cover song here)!” That’s ok.

While it may be hard for me to tell you exactly what I love about cover songs, maybe by giving some examples of some of my favorites, the music will answer the question for both of us.

The first three I came up with are all from movie soundtracks. There is no shortage of cover songs in the movies. These covers will often give new life to old songs – examples include “Sweet Child of Mine” by Sheryl Crow from Big Daddy, “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainwright from Shrek, “Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles from Less Than Zero, “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill in Pulp Fiction, and, of course, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.

Johnny B. Goode – Marty McFly and the Starlighters

From Back to the Future, this is the song Marty McFly plays at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. In the movie, He goes off on a Eddie Van Halen type solo and the entire crowd looks at him stunned. On the soundtrack, however, there is a full version with an additional verse not in the movie. What I love about this version is the stripped down instrumentation, the saxophone and piano, and the whole feel of it. It really sounds like an “early” version of the song. It’s actually quite good.

All Shook Up – Billy Joel

From the soundtrack of Honeymoon in Vegas, which contains some very good Elvis covers. This one is my favorite. It has the feel of the Elvis version, with a little “boogie woogie” piano feel to it. Simple background vocals enhance the Billy Joel version. One addition I love is the bass drum hit after he sings, “I’m in love ….”

I’m Ready – Taj Mahal

I stumbled on this by accident. This cut was used in the movie Little Big League. I’ve always been a fan of Fats Domino, but this version is just so much better. It has “meat” to it. The driving bass line keeps it moving, the piano is still there, and those saxes in the background – LOVE them. Add the electric guitar and Taj Mahal’s vocal to the mix and it is just perfect! This is one that I find myself listening to at work when I need a “pick up”

Sea of Love – The Honey Drippers

Phil Phillips did the original of this, but how can you NOT love this version?! First and foremost, you have Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as well as Jeff Beck in the group! Add a beautiful string arrangement and background singers to compliment them and you have a top 5 record!

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

Not many people are aware that this is actually a cover song. It was originally done in 1964 by Gloria Jones. The song was written by Ed Cobb, who was in the Four Preps, and was actually the B-side of a song called “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home”. The original had a “Motown” feel to it, while Soft Cell certainly has more of an 80’s feel to it.

Hard to Handle – Black Crowes

This one was written and recorded by the legendary Otis Redding. Otis’ version is already great, but I love this one equally. It certainly has a great feel to it. It doesn’t sound dated at all. It’s funky and a great jam!

You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr

The original was done by Johnny Burnette, who was known for rockabilly, in 1960. It’s not that I dislike the original, I just think Ringo’s version is … more fun. For years I thought Paul McCartney was playing Kazoo in this, however, one article says, “Michael Verity has quoted the song’s producer Richard Perry as revealing that it wasn’t actually a kazoo: “In fact, the solo on ‘You’re Sixteen,’ which sounds like a kazoo or something, was Paul singing very spontaneously as we played that track back, so he’s singing the solo on that.” Ringo’s version remains one of the few No. 1 singles to feature a ‘kazoo-sound’ solo. (It sure sounds like a kazoo to me!) I also love the driving piano bassline in his version.

I’m Down – Aerosmith

Originally done by the Beatles, this is almost a carbon copy of the Beatles version. I like it because I think Steven Tyler’s vocal perfectly fits the song.

Look at Little Sister – Stevie Ray Vaughn

I picked this song in the recent song draft and you can read about it here:

Steamroller Blues – Elvis Presley

Elvis did his share of covers, and this is one that comes from his Aloha From Hawaii concert special. I have always preferred this version to the James Taylor version. To me, it is more “bluesy.” I love everything about this cut!!

Baby, I Love You – Andy Kim

This one was originally done by the Ronettes in 1963 and featured Phil Spector’s “wall of sound.” Andy Kim recorded his version in 1969 and had a top 10 hit with it. It mimics the “wall of sound” but if you listen in headphones, there is a lot of little stuff going on in the background – jingle bells, glockenspiel, castanets, and more. I remember hearing it a lot as a kid.

Since I Met You Baby – Dean Martin

This remake I stumbled on by watching MTV!! The original was done by Ivory Joe Hunter in 1956. I remember seeing the Title and Artist show up on the bottom left side of the screen when the video started and couldn’t believe that Dean Martin was on MTV. He recorded it for his The Nashville Sessions album and I love that it stays true to the original, yet is purely Dean.

Think – Joan Osborne

It better be good if you are covering the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and this one is! Aretha did the original in 1968 and then covered herself for a version in the Blues Brothers. I don’t remember how I stumbled on Joan Osborne’s version, but it is different enough that I love it. It has such a cocky attitude to it. Dig it –

Mustang Sally – Buddy Guy

Originally done by Wilson Pickett, this is one of greatest soul songs of all time! I heard this on the Blues channel on Sirius XM and fell in love with it. I’ve always dug Buddy Guy and while this stays pretty true to the original, it has a sound of its own!

Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley

Carl Perkins seemed to have all of his songs covered and many times, his songs became associated with the other artist rather than him. That’s the case with “Blue Suede Shoes” – it is Elvis. Elvis’ version is so much better than Carl’s in my opinion.

Your Cheating Heart – Crystal Shawanda

Originally done in 1952 by the late Hank Williams Sr. this takes a whiney and twangy song and cranks it up about 10 notches. We had Crystal in for a show when I worked at the country station and she was fantastic. This was on her debut album. I’m not sure she isn’t a huge star. Her voice is amazing and she is very talented.

Dirty Laundry – Lisa Marie Presley

Written by and a hit for Don Henley, I have always loved this song. The content of the song is about mass media and how they exploit just about everything. Henley had a top 5 hit with it. I didn’t even know that Lisa Marie Presley had done this song until I heard it on some Pandora playlist. Her vocal is sultry and sells the content lyrically. A great cut!

As a bonus – here is a live and unplugged version:

Please, Please, Please – Delbert McClinton

A cover of James Brown’s classic! James has a hit with this in 1956 and it went top 10 on the R&B charts. I think Delbert McClinton is someone who just doesn’t get enough praise for all he does. He’s a singer songwriter who can play many instruments and has released many albums. This version comes from his Honky Tonk and Blues album, which is a personal favorite.

Call Me Irresponsible – Michael Buble’

Jimmy Van Heusen composed this song in 1962 with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. According to Mel Torme’, the song was written for Judy Garland to sing on her TV show. It was written as a parody to her well-known problems. Many people have done versions on the song – Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Eddie Fisher, Julie London, and more. Michael Buble’ used this as the title track for his 2007 album. It get’s me right from the opening “walking” bass lick. Buble’ has made a career out of covering so many songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as many originals. He has a great band backing him and he sings this effortlessly.

Ok – Just One That I HATE

Lean on Me – Club Nouveau

I love Bill Withers. he wrote and recorded this for his 1972 Still Bill album. It was a smash and was a number 1 song. I never cared for the cover version. Yes, it stayed very close to the original, but I just never cared for the arrangement at all. It’s almost annoying to me. It is actually playing in my headphones as I am typing this. To me, the whole 80’s synth sounds just sound out of place. Not to mention the whole “We be jammin” part – URGH!! One good thing about this was that it won a Grammy for Bill Withers as the writer for Best R&B song.

I reluctantly post the link to the video here ….

Final Thoughts

So what can we say about cover songs? Are they done as a tribute to the original artist? Are they done because it’s a favorite to perform? Are they done to “improve” on the original? Are they done because an artist feels it should be presented in a different way? Who knows, really!? One could easily ask the same questions about all the crappy movie remakes that have come about.

Some of my favorite concert memories are hearing the singer do a song that is totally unexpected. My favorite memory of the Billy Joel concert I attended wasn’t “Piano Man”. It was when he talked about loving the Motor City and breaking into his own version of “I Heard it Through The Grapevine!” Magical!! Aaron Tippin played a county fair for us and at one point he threw on a fedora and sang “Fly Me To the Moon”, which blew my mind! Very cool songs – never released – but covers, nonetheless.

In the end, a good song is a good song. I love listening to a great song done by many other singers. It says something about the song melodically and lyrically. I don’t always love the cover, but that’s ok. It’s fun to hear the artist’s take on it.

I want to thank Dave for allowing me to ramble on and on about this month’s topic. I’ve wanted to feature cover songs on my site, but just couldn’t figure out how to present it. I guess I better stop typing because the more I think about it … the more songs are coming to my head!

Thanks for reading!

July 29 – The Turntable Talk, Round 5 : Who’s Song Is It, Anyway?

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! By now, if you’re a regular reader here – and if you are, thank you, I appreciate your time here – you know how this runs. We’ve invited several interesting and talented music writers to sound off on the same topic. In the past we’ve looked at topics like why the Beatles are still relevant, whether MTV and the video sensation helped or harmed music and great debut records which took them by surprise. This time around, it’s “Cover Me”. Much of what we hear and love is songs which aren’t original to the artists we hear. So we’re asking what makes a great cover song? Are there any that stand out as being very good, or even better than the original? (I add that we’re restricting this to cover songs in which the original was fairly popular or well-known. Thus ones which are cover songs but where the original was obscure, like perhaps The Clique’s “Superman,” made a hit by R.E.M., wouldn’t be counted.)

Today, we have Lisa from Tao Talk, a site where she showcases her creativity sharing poetry, photos from around her Michigan home and thoughts on things ranging from movies to the state of the nation. Lisa looks at covers…which aren’t conventional ones:

Comfortably Numb,” by Roger Waters & Company on the In the Flesh Tour on June 27, 2000 at The Rose Garden Arena in Portland Oregon, featuring Doyle Bramhall II and Snowy White on lead guitars.

Instead of an essay on cover songs that gives a rationale of what kind I like or don’t like and why, I want to take it in another direction. What I want to talk about in today’s essay on cover songs is what I will dub a semi-cover or modified cover of an original, which I will define as a tune that is performed by at least one of the writers/performers of the song but the songwriter has a new line-up of musicians to perform it with. How often do we see where a kick-ass musical group records a mega-hit tune, the group breaks up, and wherever the songwriter ends up, they continue performing the song but with a new line-up? All of the time! Can it be called a strict cover? No; yet I still think it qualifies as one.

Unfortunately when these modified covers (MCs) are performed, often the new line-up’s names aren’t mentioned, only the name of the original star. I don’t think that’s fair.

The songwriter/musician and song I have chosen to chronologize and talk about is Pink Floyd’s song, “Comfortably Numb,” with a focus on Roger Waters, who wrote the lyrics. The plan is to talk about where it originated, where Roger took it, and the MC I chose to finish with.

Before getting into more, what I will call ritual in the live performance is that the guitar(s) doing the solos make a surprise entrance in an elevated position. Please keep that in mind as you watch the videos. To me, this symbolizes Pink’s mental state and the effects of the injection.

Comfortably Numb“ first appeared on Pink Floyd’s eleventh studio album, The Wall, which was released on November 30, 1979. The album is described as “a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rock star whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society forms a figurative wall.” Roger Waters reportedly conceived the album concept during a 1977 tour and based the character of Pink on both himself and former band-mate, Syd Barrett. “Comfortably Numb” was one of the three singles released from the album. The band toured supporting it for a couple of years and Waters wrote a screenplay for a feature film based on it in 1982.

“Comfortably Numb” was released as a single in 1980, with “Hey You” as the B-side. The music was composed by guitarist David Gilmour, and the lyrics were written by Waters. It is notable for its two guitar solos. In it, Pink, the protagonist, is medicated by a doctor so he can perform for a show. There are varying yet similar stories as to what inspired the lyrics. One is that it was when Waters was injected with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour, while in Philadelphia. Another is that it sprang from Waters being injected with tranquilizers for stomach cramps, not hepatitis, at the same concert. “That was the longest two hours of my life,” Waters said, “trying to do a show when you can hardly lift your arm.” The song’s working title was “The Doctor.” Of course, in the context of the album’s concept, it takes on another connotation, and it can also be expanded beyond a single concert, to man’s existential struggle to maintain sanity in a world he feels has continued to be hostile to his dreams for happiness.

The first known MC of The Wall (including “Comfortably Numb”, of course) was when Waters performed The Wall: Live in Berlin at The Berlin Wall on July 21, 1990 (just over twenty-two years ago now) The Berlin Wall had fallen just months before, on November 9, 1989. Rogers created not only a commemorative musical marker for the occasion, but he assembled a musical cavalcade of stars to perform it with him. A live album – which I have – and a video – which I’ve seen but do not have – were released from the performance, both of which are excellent. On the Live in Berlins’ MC of Comfortably Numb, Waters sang lead, Van Morrison sang Gilmour’s vocal parts backed by Rick Danko and Levon Helm of The Band, with guitar solo by Rick Di Fonzo and Snowy White, and backup by the Rundfunk Orchestra & Choir. This MC is memorable and runs a close second to the one I want to highlight.

In 1999, Waters began a tour with music from his solo career and Pink Floyd material, called, In the Flesh. Both a two-disc album, called, In the Flesh: Live and a DVD were released from it. The material for the DVD was taken from a June 27, 2000 performance at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon, which is the MC performance I want to highlight. From 1999 – 2000, Doyle Bramhall II and Snowy White (also one of the two guitarists at the Live in Berlin performance) stood in for Gilmour’s vocals and guitar solos and take the song to new heights, in my opinion. I have the DVD and have watched and listened to it countless times and am thrilled every time. (It was also my introduction to Bramhall’s talent and I’ve been a fan ever since. Thanks, Roger!)

I hope you have enjoyed reading, watching, and listening to this as much as I did putting it together. Thank you, Dave, for the topic to write on.

Youtube of the live performance of the song:

https://youtu.be/TkM_pEFViXo

Sources for supportive documentation:

top image link

The Wall album by Pink Floyd

The Wall: Live in Berlin

Roger Waters In the Flesh Tour

In the Flesh: Live album and DVD

The Wall Live Tour

Comfortably Numb

July 28 – The Turntable Talk, Round 5 : When In A Hurry, Pick A Cover No Worry

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! By now, if you’re a regular reader here – and if you are, thank you, I appreciate your time here – you know how this runs. We’ve invited several interesting and talented music writers to sound off on the same topic. In the past we’ve looked at topics like why the Beatles are still relevant, whether MTV and the video sensation helped or harmed music and great debut records which took them by surprise. This time around, it’s “Cover Me”. Much of what we hear and love is songs which aren’t original to the artists we hear. So we’re asking what makes a great cover song? Are there any that stand out as being very good, or even better than the original? (I add that we’re restricting this to cover songs in which the original was fairly popular or well-known. Thus ones which are cover songs but where the original was obscure, like perhaps The Clique’s “Superman,” made a hit by R.E.M., wouldn’t be counted.)

Today, we have Deke from the newly retitled Half-arsed Rock Reviews. Deke’s the go-to guy for hard rock news and reviews, as well as something of a music historian when it comes to northern Ontario. Today he gives a “thumbs up” to some rockin’ remakes:

Thanks to Dave for once again letting me participate in Turntable Talk ,#5! I was never big into cover song singles per se, as I was always an album kind of guy. I thought I would write about an album that was half covers and half originals – Van Halen with Diver Down. I’m breaking the rules that Dave has put down as there always has to be one troublemaker in the crowd right? 

1982 was a great year for me to be a fan of Van Halen. 1981 was when I discovered Van Halen and bought my first two ever records by the Los Angeles foursome; Woman & Children First and Fair Warning.

In May 1982 Diver Down was released after the single “Oh Pretty Woman” (originally by Roy Orbison) was issued as a single a month or so before (more on that later)

I bought the single of “Oh Pretty Woman” on 45 right when the single came out and to my surprise, the B-side of the single was “Happy Trails”! (And why wouldn’t Deke have been surprised – “Happy Trails” was a 1950’s cowboy song made famous first by Roy Rogers!)

There is VH already messing with my 14-year-old mind back in 82!

Diver Down was a short album – 31 minutes in total; 12 songs. 

When this album hit the streets I remember reading reviews of it and some of them were calling Halen lazy.

I get it as Diver Down featured five cover tunes. As a 14-year-old dork at the time, I kinda bought what the critics were saying. 

The album clocks in at 31 minutes and about 13 minutes of it are cover tunes! Basically David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, Ed, and Alex Van Halen only had to craft just over 17 minutes of original material. 

But to be fair to VH, sure the album may come across as lazy but after reading producer Ted Templeman’s book Ted explains the band was basically pressured by Warner Brother Records to put out an album quickly. So I can see why people would call them Lazy Halen when that really wasn’t the case.

Side One:

Having said all of this, Diver Down is a ton of fun. Opener “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” is a great track. A song originally by The Kinks but this song was Halenized so it could pass as an original tune. 

The second track “Hang Em High” is a bonafide VH classic. Ed tears apart his fretboard while Roth goes into creeper mode vocally. Ed’s solo is I think one of his best while Alex plays the complete crap out of his drums during Ed’s solo.  Killer Tune!

Ed doodles on his guitar on “Cathedral” which leads into “Secrets” which Roth wrote great lyrics for and delivered a stellar vocal on as well! Micheal Anthony must always be mentioned as a huge catalyst in the backing vocals of VH as well as holding down the fort with his bass playing.

Another musical interlude is “Intruder” which speaking of creepy sounds creepy with that twisted synth mixed with Ed’s guitar and were off into “Oh Pretty Woman.”

Intruder/Oh Pretty Woman” was only intended as a single with “Happy Trails” being the other track. Dave and Alex wanted to make videos so this was the plan originally. A 45 single and that’s it. But of course, when “Oh Pretty Woman” stormed up the charts, both management and the record company (Warner Bros.) wanted a full album.

Onto Side 2:

Dancing In The Street.” In ’82 I was so so on it. In 2022, I appreciate the cover of the old Motown hit more as I read the back story on it coming from Templeman’s mouth. I love the sound of Alex’s drums on this tune and of course the guitar!

Little Guitars (intro”) is Eddie laying down some cool classical licks on acoustic which inturn locks right into “Little Guitars(the song)” and there’s Alex’s drums front and center leading the charge. Whatever sound Ed is making or whatever he is doing is phenomenal. This is another one of those VH tracks that has all the classic trimmings of greatness. 

Catch as catch, catch as catch can…

Here comes the fun family jam along with the tune in  “Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now ”. Basically it’s Dave, Michael, Eddie, Alex, and the brother’s father Jan who cranks on the clarinet on this track which is just simply put FUN!

The Full Bug” is a doozy of a track. VH is like a runaway locomotive on this track. Full out rock with a harmonica solo added as the band is letting everyone know that the party is still going full throttle!

Happy Trails” (another cover) ends Diver Down in an acapella version proving when you’re all sauced up and the plug is pulled electrically you can dig down deep to let us all know that the party has officially ended!

July 27 – The Turntable Talk, Round 5 : Most Covers Should Be Left Uncovered?

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! By now, if you’re a regular reader here – and if you are, thank you, I appreciate your time here – you know how this runs. We’ve invited several interesting and talented music writers to sound off on the same topic. In the past we’ve looked at topics like why the Beatles are still relevant, whether MTV and the video sensation helped or harmed music and great debut records which took them by surprise. This time around, it’s “Cover Me”. Much of what we hear and love is songs which aren’t original to the artists we hear. So we’re asking what makes a great cover song? Are there any that stand out as being very good, or even better than the original? (I add that we’re restricting this to cover songs in which the original was fairly popular or well-known. Thus ones which are cover songs but where the original was obscure, like perhaps The Clique’s “Superman,” made a hit by R.E.M., wouldn’t be counted.)

Today, we have Colin from Once Upon A Time In The 70s. There he and Paul look back at that decade lovingly, and with a decidedly British eye to the events and sounds. He writes:

I really don’t ‘get’ cover versions. Not for the most part at any rate. And here’s why.

Firstly, there’s only one real reason a band or artist would set out to produce an alternative arrangement of a previously released song, and that’s because they feel they can improve on it. This leads me to think perhaps they are being a tad disrespectful to the original artist:

Yeah, nice song dude. But if you’d done it THIS way, well …..”

Then I wonder what actually possesses some bands to think a certain track can be improved upon. Some songs are simply ‘classic’ from the moment of initial release. They are iconic songs that have already permeated the consciousness of the listening public; they have been embraced by subsequent generations who instantly identify with the original.

So, what the hell were Kiss were thinking when they covered Argent’s God Gave Rock & Roll To You’? All they seemed to have done was strip out the Rod Argent’s bedrock organ playing, scream a little and stick out their tongue a lot. Oh come on! Some things are just simply sacrosanct and should be left well alone.

OK, fair enough, I suppose ‘original / cover’ is a bit like ‘book / film’ in that whatever you saw or heard first has some bearing on preference. I mean, how else can you explain Susan Boyle reaching # 9 in the UK charts in 2009 with a cover of Wild Horses. Yeah, that ‘Wild Horses’ written by Jagger / Richards and taken from The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album of 1971. That ‘Wild Horses.’

The Stones didn’t release ‘Wild Horses’ as a single in the UK. Perhaps, then, Susie’s advisors banked on a percentage of non-Stones fans hearing it for the first time and like wild sheep, follow the trend of the time and buy whatever the Britain’s Got Talent star released.

Again, though – who thought it a whizz-bang idea to try and do a fresh spin on a classic Rolling Stones number. (Yeah, all right, it was a decent whizz-bang idea in the end, achieving Top 10 status, but let’s face it, she’s no Marianne Faithful is she?)

One final one while I have my ‘rant’ head on: Eric Clapton was once regarded (incorrectly, obviously) as the world’s greatest guitarist. So what the heck was with him covering Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’?

Actually, you know what? I’m not even going to get into this – I can feel my blood pressure already rising to an alarming level.

Aaaand, chill.

I do concede, though, there are some songs can be improved upon, for whatever reason. Two spring immediately to mind:

The Clash really took ownership of the song, ‘I Fought the Law,’ in 1979. I mean, could you really have believed either The Crickets (who wrote and first recorded the song) or The Bobby Fuller Four (who made the song ‘popular’ in 1966) cold have fought their way out a wet paper bag, never mind ‘the law’?

The Clash sing this song like they really mean it. They deliver it with a fair degree of aggression. As the Sex Pistols would say, the give it some bollocks!

The other I allude to comes from the opposite end of the musical scale and turns an already beautiful song into a behemoth of a ballad.

Though it was never released as a single in UK / Europe, had Badfinger’s ‘Without You’ been a stick of rock, it would have had the word ’classic’ embedded throughout its length.

Then of course, Harry Nilsson got hold of it and … well you know the rest. I’m not big on slow, sloppy songs, but Nilsson’s version of this is just epic. The song may have been covered by almost two hundred artists, but none as well as Nilsson – even the original writers and their band.

No – for me, a cover version must offer something either way better, or way different to cut it.

In 1959, Barrett Strong cut the track that would be the first hit for the Tamla label. So – a good, popular song to start with. The Beatles then used the song in 1963 to close their second album, With The Beatles. Was their version of ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ any better than the original? Apart from the fact they were The Beatles.

Make your own mind up: Personally, I don’t think so.

But this version certainly is! Now this is what a decent cover version should sound like – familiar enough for you to sing along, but different enough to make you think what the heck song you are actually singing!

Of course, what can be done to a song made famous by The Beatles can also be done to one by The Rolling Stones. Remember the audacity of Susan Boyle to cover The Stones’ “Wild Horses? Well, perhaps if she’d been as inventive as this band, she’d have gotten my approval.

Being a Stones fan, I have to say I was a bit offended the first time I heard this in 1977. However, it quickly grew on me, to such an extent that I ended up buying the next three Devo albums as soon as they were released, and then seeing the band play ‘live’ a couple of times.

They also did an amazing cover of this ’60s hit in 1981:

So that’s it – my message to aspiring bands and artists is this:

unless you can totally deconstruct and re-assemble an old song, producing something new and inventive … then don’t bother. Don’t give me any of your lazy cover versions – sort yourself out and write your owned damned material!