Sep 152017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

enola gay

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…

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Aug 112017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

wreckless eric

A few weeks ago, Cage The Elephant released a cover of Wreckless Eric‘s “Whole Wide World,” and a fine cover it is. Hearing it sparked a memory back to the late 1970s when the song was released by the fledgling Stiff Records (where Nick Lowe was the house producer) and became an unlikely “punk” classic. On the one hand, the song has given Eric Goulden a degree of lasting fame, and hopefully years of royalties, but on the other hand, it sadly has overshadowed Eric’s many other wonderful songs, written and performed as a solo artist, as a member of bands, and most recently with his wife, Amy Rigby, a great singer/songwriter in her own right.

According to Goulden, the genesis of the song was, as he wrote in the opening lines:

When I was a young boy
My mama said to me
“There’s only one girl in the world for you
And she probably lives in Tahiti…”

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Jul 312017
 
dont stop believing covers

When people argue over the Worst Song of All Time, inevitably someone will mention Journey’s (in)famous “Don’t Stop Believin’.” If Starship had never built that city on rock and roll, it would probably take the crown.

Frankly, I like other Journey songs, but “Don’t Stop Believin'” deserves most of the hate it gets. Its ubiquity on class rock radio, bad karaoke stages, and every college a cappella group that ever donned bow ties has made in insufferable (thank the Glee cover inexplicably going to #4 on the charts for the last one). Even The Sopranos couldn’t give it a coolness bump. It is not only Journey’s biggest song by a mile, it’s one of the most well-known songs of the 1980s, period.

The funny thing is that when it came out, not only was it not Journey’s biggest hit, it wasn’t even the biggest hit on that same album. “Open Arms” off Escape went to #2. “Who’s Crying Now” went to #4. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” meanwhile, barely scraped its way into the top ten.

Escape turns 36 this week, which might occasion a Full Album if anyone ever covered any of the other songs off it. But they don’t. They only cover “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Continue reading »

Jul 202017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Released in 1979, Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” was the second single from the album Replicas, his last with the band Tubeway Army. The surprise #1 UK hit topped the charts for a month, paving the way for the global success that came with “Cars” later that year, and to this day it remains a staple in Numan’s live performances.

“Friends” has garnered more than its fair share of covers – 21 artists on iTunes alone, and countless more on YouTube, have given us their takes on the song. Here are five (or so) that stand out…
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Jun 092017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Back in 1988, the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa got a few nice reviews, but didn’t even make the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll; today, it’s recognized as a highly influential classic. “Where Is My Mind?” gets most of the attention, but save some big big love for “Gigantic,” the album’s sole single, featuring co-writer Kim Deal on a rare (for the Pixies) lead vocal. It’s a song about the joys of sex, which instantly makes it edgier than any love song of the day (but not so edgy that it didn’t wind up in an iPhone commercial), and the exhilaration of the lyrics is matched by the quiet-loud performance that would inspire Kurt Cobain and a grungy cast of thousands.

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Mar 172017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

mac

It may be hard to believe, but in Fleetwood Mac’s hugely successful career, they’ve only had one song go all the way to number one on America’s Top 100. That would be “Dreams,” the second single from 1977’s Rumours, and it saw Stevie Nicks running through the gamut of emotions after her breakup with Lindsey Buckingham, a subject she doesn’t even try to disguise. “Who am I to keep you down?” she asks at the start, before reminding him of the consequences of leaving her – he’ll be alone, trapped with his memories of her. But he’ll come through it all in the end, when (not if) the rain washes him clean. The backing is spare, with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie not just providing the rhythm but the musical focus, while Buckingham adds atmosphere with very occasional guitar flourishes. It all makes for beautiful uneasiness, and the song’s success was much deserved.
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