Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
A discussion about a 1980 synth-pop song that references the atomic bombing of Hiroshima may run the risk of being, unintentionally, too close to current world events. But the popular new wave band who recorded the original version happens to be in the news themselves because of a brand-new studio album, their thirteenth, that dropped on September 1st. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, also known as OMD, formed in 1978 in northwest England. Founding members Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey saw their first significant UK and US dance chart success with the release of “Enola Gay.” Named for the plane that dropped the first A-bomb ever dropped on a city, the McCluskey-penned antiwar dance track was the only single from their second album Organisation, and predated the success the band would experience in the late-‘80s with Top 20 hits like “If You Leave,” “Dreaming,” and “(Forever) Live and Die.”
“Enola Gay” has been ranked as one of the greatest songs of the ’80s by NME, and MusicRadar says that “its almost naive arrangement… includes some of the biggest synth hooks of all time.” But it turns out a good cover of “Enola Gay” doesn’t need a synthesizer. As you’ll see, the song has inspired a variety of cross-genre covers well worth sharing…
Nouvelle Vague – Enola Gay (OMD cover)
The quirky perennial French favorites start us off with a compelling, low-key, and light “music-box” version that debuted on their 2010 Best Of compilation. Their trademark whispering accented vocals are punctuated with soft airplane takeoffs and landings.
OUTLOUD – Enola Gay (OMD cover)
Greek and American hard rockers based in (not-Georgia) Athens bring a classic AOR feel to 2014’s Let’s Get Serious album. On the fast-paced track, lead guitarist/keyboardist/producer Bob Katsionis shows why the early comparisons to Riot and Skid Row hold water.
The Hillbilly Moon Explosion – Enola Gay (OMD cover)
A Zurich rockabilly scene? Why, yes! The ‘50s jukebox dance music from this Swiss-based group – at it since ’98 – will rock you around the clock. The track is included on their 2011 Buy, Beg, or Steal album. Singer Emanuela Hutter might recall Belinda Carlisle or Debby Harry. And it’s Duncan James’ surf guitar – not the “Crocodile Rock” piano – that replaces the original’s keyboard melody.
The Moon Loungers – Enola Gay (OMD cover)
A well-done, sweet-sounding acoustic version. It may sound like damning with faint praise to call cousins Chris and Steve the best wedding band in Bristol, England, but don’t be fooled. Their fingerpicking, guitar interplay, and singing are professional, and their look is enhanced with well-produced video. Track is from their 2015 Acoustic ‘80s album. Check out their webpage and their YouTube channel.
Cardova – Enola Gay (OMD cover)
Bringing it all home is this must-see campy doo-wop and soul version. The apparently defunct Barcelona funk outfit released the track as a single in 2011. Listen with an open mind. Screaming don’t-leave-me soul with harmonies is about as far away as you can get from the original… and thoroughly entertaining!
- Jackhammered death metal version from Empatic. (2010)
- Instrumental surf guitar version from The Treble Spankers. (2012)
- Some slow ska with The Skamonics.(2012)
- No ukes? Instrumental ukulele cover from Nebesmrtnici. (2015)