Prolific cover-er that he is, Beck has recently graced these pages covering Colourbox and The Human League. Now’s he’s tackled a third ’80s hitmaker (albeit one whose career spanned far further than the previous two): Prince. And did at Paisley Park, no less.
Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police is the latest (second) in, now, what must be a series of such projects, her JH Sings Olivia Newton-John being released barely 18 months ago. Eclecticism clearly a calling card, the sweepstakes on whomsoever is next in line must have long odds: Metallica? The Beach Boys? Putting such thoughts aside, Hatfield has always had a way with covers, quirky versions of songs peppered throughout her long and varied career. We’ve commented upon this here many a time; I even gave her a grudging shout-out in a recent Led Zeppelin Five Good Covers piece on “Rock and Roll.”
I have always considered her together with Evan Dando, either the mythology or my imagination suggesting she perpetually the good girl to his bad boy, just saying no to anything other than close musical collaboration. It’s a good story oft played, bringing each a shared notoriety, fueled by their somehow always seeming to find themselves together on a stage, whether planned or otherwise. A child of the late 70’s, she purportedly acquired her love of music from a babysitter, who introduced her to the works of L.A. punks X. Kicking off her career in 1992, with the eponymous Juliana Hatfield, guess who was already alongside, as one of the guitarists and singers (Hatfield’s main instrument being the bass guitar)? If you guessed Evin Dandow, you really need to work on your spelling.
Whilst he didn’t appear on the follow-up, the debut by the Juliana Hatfield Three, or the subsequent eight albums, credited solely in her name, Hatfield cropped up a fair bit on or in Dando’s releases, notably the two biggest and most influential of his Lemonheads releases, It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel the Lemonheads, in 2002 and 2003 respectively. 2012 saw another record, called merely Juliana Hatfield (confusingly, as that was her debut’s name too), which was all covers, from which the aforementioned “Rock and Roll” hailed, along with staples from Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Who, as well as lesser known fare from Teenage Fanclub and Liz Phair. A couple more solo efforts and the second JH3 record dropped 22 years after the first, followed by the ONJ tribute. And yet another solo release, so she can never be accused of being idle. In her spare time she has also been part of other bands and collaborations, notably the Blake Babies and Some Girls. Phew!
Bob Dylan has been a source of inspiration for singer/songwriter Lisa Bastoni ever since she first picked up a guitar. In 1999, she won first place at a Bob Dylan Karaoke contest at the Newport Folk Festival, singing the song “Isis.” For her seventeenth birthday, she received a copy of Dylan’s book Lyrics:1962-1985 that, according to her, is now, “Velveteen Rabbit-level falling apart from love.” About ten years ago, she started making miniature painted cardboard dioramas with scenes based on Dylan’s songs. “I realized I might be verging into the category of a little too weird as far as Dylan fandom goes, and had to dial it back a little,” she told Cover Me in an email.
“Mah Nà Mah Nà” is an unlikely children’s song. It was originally written by Italian composer Piero Umiliani for the 1968 film Sweden: Heaven and Hell. The London Institute of Contemporary Arts described the film as “an Italian shockumentary depicting the strange customs of the natives of Sweden in the ‘60s. It’s an archetypal mondo movie, with scenes of lesbian nightclubs, nasty bikers, teenage sex education, drugs, topless girl-bands and suicide.” The song appears during a scene where a bunch of young girls, wearing only towels, soak in a sauna.
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.
Most of the world first heard Sam Smith via Smith’s vocal turn on English electronic duo Disclosure’s hit “Latch.” Smith has collaborated with them a couple times since, and now the partnership continues with Smith’s new cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” produced by Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence. The track doesn’t differ that much from the original, but Smith’s inimitable falsetto proves a perfect match for this disco classic.