Jul 132018
 

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

Time travel is impossible, say some physicists. But ask any true music fan if it can be done, and the answer will be an enthusiastic “Yes!” And it’s a lot easier than you might think.

How? Just traipse on over to your laptop (or, more likely, the smartphone currently warming your pocket). Punch in “Sheryl Crow First Cut is the Deepest,” and within seconds you’ll be transported back to 2003, Crow’s supple mezzo-soprano filling your earbuds and floating out over a lovely mandolin and steel-string guitar intro. It’s a powerful song, too: An affecting plea for love after the scorched-earth anguish of an affair gone awry.

When it was released, Crow’s song was a perfect encapsulation of that era’s modern, high-gloss folk-rock: Well-oiled, heavy on heartstring-tugging touches and somewhat light on passion. It was a hit, too, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of 2004. But as regular Cover Me readers, you’re already bracing yourself for the inevitable pull of the rug: Sheryl Crow didn’t write “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” nor was she even the first to chart with it.
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Jun 222018
 

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

In the summer of 1982, sharp-eared listeners heard something rather unusual issuing from their transistor radios. Sandwiched between the glossy arena-prog of Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and the fist-pumping sports-rock of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” a surfy, strangely tribal tom-tom beat fairly leapt out of the speakers. A few bars later, crunching electric bass and an irresistible guitar melody — wait, is this a Latin dance track? — joined in. By the time the vocals began, sung by a perky-sounding young woman spinning a playground rhyme about a “guy who’s tough but sweet,” it was all over: Like sugar itself, this song was going to prove itself nearly impossible to quit.

Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” was one of the defining moments of New Wave, an earworm that continues to work its magic some 36 years after it was recorded, and long after the band itself had dissolved into acrimony, innumerable lineup changes, and — worst of all — competing Facebook pages.
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Jun 082018
 

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

Fred Neil just wanted to go home. The cantankerous folkie hated being in the studio, and pulling his third album together was like pulling teeth. It was almost finished, but it had to have one more tune to fill it out.

“We needed another song, and he said he might have one more,” said his manager, Herb Cohen. “Matter of fact, I think he completed it in the toilet of the Capitol Records studio. As you can tell by the lyric, all he wanted to do was finish the album and go to Florida.”

Singing in a gruff, weary voice, Neil finished his yearning to breathe free in one take and got out of the studio as fast as he could. The album, Fred Neil, didn’t sell well, which probably suited Neil just fine – the less publicity he had to do, the better. Little did he know that he had just come up with the key that would unlock the door to his freedom.
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May 012018
 

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

hey joe

If great songs are romantic flings—seizing you by the ears and locking you in a passionate, three-minute embrace before they leave you breathless and aching for more—there’s precious few that compare with the record-buying public’s three-year infatuation with the song “Hey, Joe.”

Hundreds of renditions have been recorded, several making the charts. But none proved more lasting than a version committed to wax in late 1966, the debut 7” by a young guitarist you may have heard of. We’ll get to his story in a moment, but first the phenomenon of multiple concurrent covers demands a little exploration. Continue reading »

Apr 102018
 

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

dont let me be misunderstood covers

Nina Simone will be posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this weekend. To anyone counting, that is 24 years after the Animals were inducted. And they wouldn’t have had one of their most enduring hits without her.

Though Animals frontman Eric Burdon is a fine songwriter in his own right, he didn’t write the majority of the band’s biggest 1960s hits. “We Gotta Get out of This Place” was written by the iconic Brill Building duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and originally intended for the Righteous Brothers. “It’s My Life” also came out of the Brill stables, written for the band by lesser-known duo of Roger Atkins and Carl D’Errico. And “House of the Rising Sun” was a traditional cover Burdon learned off of Bob Dylan’s first record. Continue reading »

Apr 062018
 

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

blondie hanging on the telephone

If you’re a fan of power pop – roughly speaking, the place where early rock n’ roll, ‘60s bubblegum, and the British Invasion converge – then Blondie probably ranks high on your list of faves. Refracting modern rock through multiple lenses – ’50s pop, ’60s girl groups and ’70s punk, to name a few – the band sucked you in with clever, poppy melodies while maintaining a distance sharpened by dark, ironic humor.

If it doesn’t quite represent their commercial peak, the band’s 1978 album Parallel Lines is without much doubt their finest work, crashing out of the gate with “Hanging on the Telephone,” a near-perfect snapshot of illicit romance and sexual frustration, come and gone in 2 minutes 17 seconds. Continue reading »