Seth Lorinczi

Seth Lorinczi is a musician, writer and editor, among other things. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but raised in Washington, D.C., he feels fortunate to have participated in the punk scene centered largely around Dischord Records. These days he lives with his family in Portland, Oregon. Whether writing words or music, his goal is to find the latent threads of meaning and emotion in our workaday lives so that he can uncover them and write uncomfortably revealing blogs about them later.

Apr 162018
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

joey ramone covers

Jeffrey Ross Hyman was an odd boy. Disturbingly tall, gangly and gaunt, his facial features -typically hidden under an unruly thatch of hair – seemed disproportionate to his angular head, giving him a distinctly amphibian cast. Crippled by obsessive-compulsive disorder so severe that his mother feared he would spend his life housebound, he instead channeled his anxiety and alienation into music, starting a band with three other self-described “creeps” from the neighborhood, giving himself a new name and in the process changing pop music forever.

Onstage, he was transformed: Long limbs draped casually around an overextended mic stand, left heel pumping to the blistering jackhammer beat of his unstoppable band, it was impossible to take one’s eyes off this otherwise gawky and unsteady-seeming kid.

We’re talking, of course, about Joey Ramone. Continue reading »

Apr 102018
 
the cars covers

Whatever your feelings about the music of the Cars, they were impossible to ignore. In the late-‘70s sea of muted earth-tones, the band’s retro-techno-geek look was a revelation. And in an era when the charts were dominated by soft rock, disco and 1950s nostalgia – the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, the Grease soundtrack – the Cars’ spiky, New Wave-inflected guitar pop signaled a coming sea change in popular music.

Of course popular taste didn’t change overnight and, in retrospect, it may not even have changed a great deal. If the wildfires of punk and art-rock had blazed through the underground music scene and left behind a very altered landscape, in the larger arena of the Billboard Top 100 it was a different story. In America at least, punk wasn’t quite ready for primetime (nor, it should be noted, were the Cars in any sense a punk band). Continue reading »

Apr 062018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

blondie hanging on the telephone

If you’re a fan of power pop – roughly speaking, the place where early rock n’ roll, ‘60s bubblegum, and the British Invasion converge – then Blondie probably ranks high on your list of faves. Refracting modern rock through multiple lenses – ’50s pop, ’60s girl groups and ’70s punk, to name a few – the band sucked you in with clever, poppy melodies while maintaining a distance sharpened by dark, ironic humor.

If it doesn’t quite represent their commercial peak, the band’s 1978 album Parallel Lines is without much doubt their finest work, crashing out of the gate with “Hanging on the Telephone,” a near-perfect snapshot of illicit romance and sexual frustration, come and gone in 2 minutes 17 seconds. Continue reading »

Mar 222018
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty years.

connie francis my heart has a mind

Our grandparents like to tell us how much simpler things were in 1960: A world without an internet or mobile phones to navigate, steady 9-to-5 jobs, and a soundtrack of wholesome, reassuring music. Listen to “El Paso” by Marty Robbins or Brian Hyland’s deathless “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and you may feel like you’re stuck in a soft-focus time warp. (Of course, you may find that to be a pleasant feeling; no judgements here.)

But some songs from that era exhibit real staying power, whether through repeated airplay or, more often, subsequent artists’ cover versions. One of these is Connie Francis’ “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own,” which gave the New Jersey-born singer her second #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100 on September 26, 1960. Continue reading »

Feb 252018
 
Ed Cobb

Every so often, a figure from behind the scenes of popular music garners such renown that he or she becomes a household name: “Colonel” Tom Parker, Quincy Jones, and Carole King (as a hitmaking songwriter before she stepped into the limelight) to name a few.

And then there are all the countless others, the ones who passed through this realm largely unheralded by the record-buying public. One of these was songwriter and producer Ed Cobb, who would have turned 80 today. You may not know his name, but he left his mark on some very disparate—and uniquely compelling—byways of pop music.

Cobb’s musical career began as a member of the Four Preps, a white doo-wop group that scored two Top Five hits in 1958. The Preps’ sound was safe and family-friendly; hardly the stuff of legend. But early on, Cobb gravitated towards songwriting and production, penning soul and R&B numbers rather than the Preps’ squeaky-clean material. One of these was a little number Cobb wrote for Gloria Jones called “Tainted Love.” It didn’t make much of an impact in its first two iterations, but on its third try became a record-breaking smash, hitting #1 in 17 countries. (Of course, close readers of Cover Me will already know this story.)

But there’s more to that song’s journey. When we recently spoke with Fugazi frontman and Dischord Records co-founder Ian MacKaye about Ed Cobb – his other band Minor Threat covered Ed Cobb’s “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” – he alerted us to a yet another cover of the song: Continue reading »

Feb 092018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

tainted love covers

Imagine, if you will, a world without synthpop.

The year is 1982. The airwaves are dominated by slick, highly produced pop-rock: Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical”; Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”’ Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n Roll.”

Into this guitar-heavy slurry comes an arresting—and catchy!—song about abuse and paranoia: “Tainted Love.” The artist is Soft Cell, an English duo consisting of singer Marc Almond and multi-instrumentalist David Ball. The spare, electronic production resembles nothing else then on the airwaves, and after a brief spell in the lower rungs of the US Billboard Hot 100, it climbs to number 8, in total spending a record-breaking 43 weeks on the chart.

What most of the perplexed American radio audience didn’t then know was that the song was a cover, having first been recorded in 1964 by a then-little-known American artist, Gloria Jones, who would go on to re-record it in 1976, in effect covering herself. And while neither of her versions would make any impact on the charts, the story of this agonized song would enfold a long, strange string of figures from the bowels of rock history. Continue reading »