Aug 022019
 

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

Edwin Starr War Temptations

Most know “War,” the anti-Vietnam protest song, by its distinctive and aggressive opening. After a drum roll, Edwin Starr launches into soulful protest: “War, huh, yeah / What is it good for / Absolutely nothing.” Hearing his hurt and anger, you can understand why the song resonated with the anti-war sentiment of the times. Throughout, Starr mixes singing with screaming, matching the tone of the wailing electric guitar and the occasional sassy saxophone lick. Starr’s powerful voice can stand up to the at times cacophonous instrumental accompaniment. The lyrics are not subtle, and Starr emphasizes each line without apology: “Induction then destruction / Who wants to die?”

The song was a massive success; it was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Its message remains potent, its obvious political statement inspiring near-continual controversy nearly half a century after its release. For example, after the September 11th attacks, Clear Channel Communications put “War” on a list of songs to be avoided for radio. However, it is thanks to the political nature of the lyrics that Edwin Starr got the chance to record the song in the first place. 

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Jul 092019
 

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

Ice Cream Man

Summer is upon us. The sweltering heat of July has arrived, and we yearn for a reprieve. And many neighborhoods still get visits from an ice cream truck to deliver treats for the kids, and the kids at heart. Thus, it is no surprise that Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man” makes regular and routine airplay on classic rock stations at this time of the year.

Nearly all rock music fans—and most casual listeners—know that Van Halen’s debut album features the cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” after the explosive statement that is Eddie’s “Eruption.” However, that is not the only cover. “Ice Cream Man” is the other cover song on the album, one that reinterprets the blues for a post-punk and Sunset Strip style of heavy metal.
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Mar 012019
 

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

The term “groupie” was just starting to get a toehold in the American vernacular in the late ’60s. Groupies were written about in lengthy articles in Rolling Stone and Time magazines. They were the subject of a 1969 book (Groupie) and a 1970 documentary (Groupies). They were, in the words of Hall of Fame groupie Pamela Des Barres, the Mary Magdalenes to any and all Jesuses in the rock bands that came through town. And Rita Coolidge thought they would make an ideal subject for a song.

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Oct 192018
 

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

Stop Your Sobbing

Funny things, songs. Some don’t even get heard, never leaving their creators’ rooms (or their heads); others seem to spread like a special kind of virus, played at parties and bedrooms and bus stops and supermarkets everywhere until they’re inescapable, a global pandemic without cure. (Yes, “Despacito,” I’m talkin’ to you.)

Regardless of their popularity or lack thereof, all songs are an attempt to crystallize a feeling and then share it with the world. And every once in a while, having completed a sort of emotional circuit, a song returns to its owner, carrying back far more than it left with.

Here’s the story of one which did just that.
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Sep 072018
 

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

Was 1966 the pivotal year in popular music? Jon Savage’s 1966: The Year the Decade Imploded makes a strong case for it, pointing to epochal records by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and many others. Fueled by tectonic changes in politics and culture—the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, LSD, the pill, the yawning abyss of the Vietnam War—popular music burst through a perceptual wall, in the process changing from being the soundtrack behind events to being the events themselves. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before, and it’s possible nothing like it will ever happen again.

A wealth of inspired rock songs bubbled up to seize the public’s attention that year: The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.”

Oh, and the Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
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Aug 242018
 

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

Paper Lace

For the members of Paper Lace, opportunity knocked.

The band from Nottingham, England (town nickname: “Lace City”) had been playing together in one form or another for six years. In 1970 they auditioned to be on Opportunity Knocks, the Britain’s Got Talent of its day. It took three years for them to get the chance to be on the show, but when it happened, they were ready. Seven million viewers watched them win, again and again – five weeks in a row, in fact. One of those viewers was Connie Callendar. With a word to her husband, she set the band on a violently twisting road to (and from) fame and fortune.
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