Sep 052017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

 
A newly elected, telegenic-but-polarizing, anti-establishment Republican president. A charged political climate on both sides of the Atlantic. A backlash from progressives in the music and entertainment community. Sound familiar? Yes, folks, we’ve seen this before!

As Ronald Reagan stepped on to the world stage in 1981, Martyn Ware, Ian Craig Marsh, and Glenn Gregory were readying their eventual UK gold-selling debut album Penthouse and Pavement. Keyboardists Ware and Marsh, recently split co-founders of the Human League, joined with fellow Sheffield native and vocalist Gregory to form a new synth-pop outfit named for a fictional band from the novel A Clockwork Orange. Their first single, the frenetic “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” became a Top 30 US dance club hit in 1981, but not before being banned by the BBC in the UK over concerns of libel, in particular for the line “Reagan’s president-elect/Fascist god in motion.”

The classic track features Gregory’s velvety vocals over high beats-per-minute electronic percussion, combined with funky guitar, “slap” bass, sax, and synth effects. The still-active band’s website tells us that the song became NME’s record of the week while happening to mention, albeit as comic denunciations, the words “fascist,” “Hitler,” and “racist.”

Time has inspired a handful of musically evolved cover versions. The more recent attempts, if not (ironically) from Germany, do include some updated political sentiments. As it stands…

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Aug 272017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Today we conclude our look at six decades of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” the timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. Click here to read about the ’60s, here for the ’70s, here for the ’80s, here for the ’90s, and here for the ’00s. Then keep reading for the big finish…

Part VI: The ’10s

Two and a half years shy of the end, we’re about to surpass the total number of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” covers produced in any decade, including the ‘60s! Like MTV before it, YouTube is helping to drive this output. To be clear, we’re also not considering every bad amateur effort out there. There’s some carryover of the jazz-influenced versions from the ’00s, but the real story up to now is the sophistication and maturity that’s developed. In general, it’s as if the song, to no one’s surprise, is aging like an exceptional cabernet. So far this decade…

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Aug 262017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Burt Bacharach with The Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a live 2008 performance at the Sydney Opera House.

This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 150 versions of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” the timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. We’ve covered the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, and the ’90s; now it’s time to see the fruits of a new century.

Part V: The ’00s

Jazz proliferated in the cover versions produced between 2000-2010. In total, a few more versions were released this decade than the previous with over a third having roots in one jazz style or another. But for as many as we heard, most were average with one exception. Otherwise, rock & roll made a strong showing, and later we’ll hear from an old friend followed by a few more efforts of note. In the ‘00s…
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Aug 252017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 150 versions of this timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. You can read what we said about the ’60s, the ’70s, and the ’80s by following the links. Now to end the century in style…

Part IV: The ’90s

The ‘90s were weird. A variety of styles and quality were reflected during the decade. Although the output of verifiable covers more than doubled over the previous 10 years, none would challenge the staying power of Naked Eyes’ ‘83 version. But Mr. Bacharach could have never predicted the popularity of grunge and it would have been hard to envision any of his songs being delivered in that alt rock style or any of its indie/emo/power pop offshoots. The decade brought us that, and as you’ll see, much more. In the ‘90s…
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Aug 242017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 150 versions of this timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. We’ve talked about the ’60s and the ’70s; now it’s time for…

Part III: The ’80s

Were it not for Naked Eyes, the highlight of the ‘80s may have been Sandie Shaw’s re-recording of her own classic work for the 1985 British romantic comedy Letter to Brezhnev. Sure there were a few disco/dance cover versions produced, but the inventive duo of Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher helped kick off a “new wave” of worldwide popularity for a song that was nearly 20 years old at the time. In all, verified cover versions released during the decade barely broke double-digits. But the all time low output belied the quality and power of Naked Eyes’ 1983 release. The few attempts made weren’t (really) bad; they were just dwarfed in comparison by an 800-pound gorilla. Here’s how the decade looks…

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Aug 232017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 100 versions of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” the timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. If you missed yesterday’s post, where we introduced the song and “covered” its origins, you can find it here.

Part II: The ’70s

R.B. Greaves’ cover of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” to our mind the best cover version of the ‘60s, vanished from the Billboard charts in March of 1970. The rest of this decade pretty much went downhill after that. Not every decade has been great for covers of the song, but the ‘70s represent the low-water mark. Is that an indictment of this decade’s popular music in general? Possibly.

It would be hard to argue the case that any of our choices below is good enough to move forward in a best-of-all-time playoff. Half of the verified baker’s dozen of covers released were instrumentals – the highest whole number and percentage for any decade. Thankfully, most are not available online, but if you must, here are the Moog synthesizer and “happy” Hammond organ versions. That doesn’t mean everything was bad. But after the standouts, we’ll point out a few dishonorable mentions before moving forward tomorrow. So in the ‘70s…
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