Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
In the mid-’80s, a besotted Robert Smith decided to write a song about a trip he took to the seashore with his girlfriend. The girlfriend would later become his wife; the song would later become “Just Like Heaven” (hereinafter “JLH”), the Cure‘s signature song, the one that everybody knows and every band wants to play. The cascading guitar line, the ethereal synths, and the rush in Smith’s vocals, especially that opening “Show me show me show me,” combine to make the song as exciting and inevitable as a waterfall. It’s a remarkably malleable song as well, easily transformed to sound perfectly at home in any context – it’s as likely to show up on a metal tribute as it is to be redone as a lullaby for babies. The following five songs fall somewhere in between.
MP3: Al Baby and the Hatchet Wound Experience – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
You’d think a band that saw fit to give itself a name like Al Baby and the Hatchet Wound Experience would be all about making noise and lots of it. Not so. Their album Teenage Dreams and Soggy Things includes a hushed, respectful cover of Cat Stevens’ “The Wind.” It also features this version of “Heaven,” where his whisper is blanketed in instrumentation that makes its home at sixty decibels. It’s a performance designed to both soften and warm the heart.
MP3: Joy Zipper – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
“Just Like Heaven” is both the title and leadoff track to the American Laundromat Cure tribute album, and Joy Zipper don’t shrink from the responsibility. Their boy/girl vocal interplay is a treat, and they double down on the guitars, adding another layer of transcendence to the mix. A song this airy shouldn’t be able to rock this strong, but thanks to Joy Zipper, it definitely does.
MP3: Ervin Stellar – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
The Brooklyn-based Stellar lives up to his name with this cover of “Heaven,” bringing down the volume and warming up the room with a resonant voice, an acoustic, a saxophone, and a little rain outside to provide atmosphere. Speaking of which…
MP3: Fabien Meyer – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
Fabien Meyer brings atmosphere to the nth degree to his cover, with accented backing vocals lost in their own swirling echoes and that famous guitar line not showing up until the last quarter of the song. He sure makes it work, though – the whole song has a whoosh to it that matches the lofty heights expressed in the lyrics.
MP3: Gatsbys American Dream – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
From Seattle come Gatsbys American Dream, a band whose literary references don’t stop with their name – their songs feature references to Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and more – and who don’t let their smarts get in the way of a good remake. In their hands, “JLH” moves through multiple time signatures with a grace that’s easy to miss, hidden as it is beneath the volume and a heavy stomp that still sounds light enough to dance.
Bonus: BRAT Productions – Easy Heaven (The Cure / The Commodores mashup)
Finally, just for fun, here’s a version of “JLH” that demands to be heard. It’s a mashup from BRAT Productions featuring Robert Smith’s original vocals backed by the instrumental track for the Commodores’ “Easy.” In a perfect world, this would be the song that ends every high school dance.