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 »

Jun 302017

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

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Wow,  that sounds naïve in today’s world, doesn’t it? Watch the news or go on social media and all we see are people screaming at each other, dividing each other and hating each other. Not to mention, why only smile on your brother? What about sisters? And the gender binary should be rejected anyway, right?

In any case, the Youngbloods‘ “Get Together” has become an easy soundtrack shorthand when referring to the optimism of the 1960s (much as Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Ohio” is used to illustrate the disillusionment and violence of that decade). You just have to hear the opening notes, and you are transported to a world of flower-festooned long hair, tie-dye, fringed vests and pot smoke. Thus, the song’s ubiquity in films, TV and advertising. 

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Jun 162017

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


Back in 1974, anybody hearing those syllables for the first time stopped dead in their tracks. “What the hell is that?” tended to be the first thought, closely followed by nodding or singing along. Of course, it was the opening seconds of “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, a song that went to number one on Billboard‘s charts and has resonated through the decades, with its inclusion on the soundtracks of Reservoir Dogs and Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention its use in the dancing-baby-hallucination episode of Ally McBeal and the deliberately-bizarre-but-so-what cover by David Hasselhoff. Wired called it “a song that refuses to die, popping up again and again in the zeitgeist when you least expect it. It’s the Highlander of pop music.”

Here’s the thing – many of 1974’s listeners were among the 1969 listeners who put the original version of “Hooked on a Feeling” in the top five in America. How quickly we forget, eh? Well, no – it’s more like, how quickly we adjust to a new reality.
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May 252017

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

Our story begins with R&B singer Limmie Snell, who in March 1965, under the name Lemme B. Good, released “Good Lovin’.” Only a month later, another version was released. This one kept the basic melody, the title, and the “yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah” hook, but all the other lyrics were changed – author Rudy Clark wasn’t happy with what he heard, and got Artie Resnick (who also co-wrote “Under the Boardwalk” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy”) to give him a hand with fixing the words. What emerged was a whole new song – no longer about a man who gets good lovin’ from his new girl (even though she’s ugly and can’t sing), now it’s about a man who needs good lovin’, a diagnosis obtained after consulting a physician. Continue reading »

May 172017

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

Today we introduce a new recurring feature titled, “That’s A Cover?” Our goal is to shine a light on original songs that are not nearly as well known as their cover version(s) and to analyze what factors combined to make the cover more popular than the original. Oftentimes the cover is simply better than the original. Sometimes it’s a generational thing; put 25 years between an original and a cover and it’s no surprise when Generation Y doesn’t recognize Generation X’s original. (No Billy Idol reference intended.) A cover version of an old, semi-obscure song featured in a new hit movie or TV show can also explain how a cover can overwhelm an original. Never underestimate popularity, either – who among us hasn’t offered a great idea at school or work and had it ignored only to see the same concept embraced later when proposed by a more popular, fair-haired classmate/co-worker?

For our inaugural piece, we’re taking a look at a band too small to have a cult following – until a quartet from Athens, Georgia plucked one of their B-sides from obscurity seventeen years later.
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