“I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand”. The opening line of Prince’s 1984 stone cold classic “I Would Die 4 U” somehow manages to be both a grand yet frustrated declaration from a higher power and a definitive mission statement from the purple one explaining what he himself is and isn’t. It remains gloriously ambiguous, full of desperation, glitter, euphoria and pure melodic love, an otherworldly pop song.
As far as pop music history goes, the exclusion of “Silver Springs” from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album is something of a travesty. It’s the quintessential “one that got away,” the woulda/coulda/shoulda-been classic in the band’s catalog. Its last-minute exclusion from the best-selling album came simply because they had one track too many, according to Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat. And, as an added bonus, apparently Lindsey Buckingham wasn’t too crazy about the sentiments expressed in the song. Its ultimate resting place was on the B-Side of the “Go Your Own Way” single.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
I should probably start this with a pop music true confession: the first Joni Mitchell album I ever bought and listened to in full was 1974’s Court And Spark, and the sole reason I purchased it was because I’d heard Prince, whom I was obsessed with (this was the early ’80s), say that he loved it and thought she was a genius (or something to that effect). Basically, if the person who made my #1 favorite album (Purple Rain) with my # 1 favorite song (“I Would Die 4 U”) loved her, there had to be a reason, and I needed to know what that reason was. I bought the album, and by the time I’d finished playing it, like most humans upon exposure to Joni, I’d been transformed into a complete devotee, snarfing up every album and playing them endlessly forever. That Prince, he knew what he was talking about.
It’s not often two exceptionally fine covers of the same song appear during the same week but clearly some pop loving spirit is feeling generous right now.
The Waterboys “The Whole Of The Moon”, originally released in 1985, has proven to be an enduring anthem of wonderment and longing. Yet the physical subject of the song, the actual person it’s inspired by, has been a source of debate for years. It was speculatively suggested that frontman Mike Scott was talking about Prince; he had mentioned him in interviews around that time and had spoken passionately about being blown away by “Purple Rain.”* It was then said to be about author C.S. Lewis, one of Scott’s admittedly eternal influences. And at some point later on cult singer Nikki Sudden (Swell Maps), a friend of Scott’s, alleged it was actually about him.
While Brad Laner has been kicking out tuneful fuzz in an assortment of incarnations since the early ’90s, he is best known for leading shoegazing popsters Medicine. The band – Laner plus a revolving group of collaborators – have operated on and off over the past 25-plus years, with gaps of up to 10 years between releases. As a solo artist in between the Medicine records, Laner has sweetly revealed himself to be an ’70s AM radio kid, recording a couple of particularly heartfelt, sludgy and exceptional covers of Top 40 nuggets, Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” and Blue Magic’s “Sideshow”.
While Phil Collins’s current Still Not Dead Yet tour has been a mostly a celebratory affair, it also bears a tinge of bittersweetness. A variety of physical ailments have impaired Phil’s ability to move around, requiring him to be seated for the majority of the shows. But despite these challenges, there is a particular song Phil makes a point of standing up to deliver most nights. It’s not one of the perky sing-alongs like “Sussudio” or “Invisible Touch,” but his eternally haunting, bitter and thunderous “In The Air Tonight.”