Oct 312019
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Ghostbusters covers

The movie Ghostbusters has never been without controversy. Dan Aykroyd’s original premise, featuring himself and John Belushi, was seen as financially prohibitive, and was sent back for a re-write. Casting issue abounded. The studio doubted it would make its money back. (Spoiler alert: it did.) The very idea of the 2016 reboot was met with derision, and the reboot itself fell far short of its financial goals. On a somewhat higher profile, the band that director Ivan Reitman wanted to provide songs for key segments, Huey Lewis and the News, turned the job down. Reitman finally tapped Detroit guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., a former session musician who had found commercial success with his band Raydio, to come up with a theme song. That theme, while a massive hit (three weeks at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100), provided further controversy, as Huey Lewis later sued Parker, claiming the Ghostbusters theme was plagiarized from his song “I want a New Drug.”

The case was settled out of court, but the controversy didn’t end there. Several years later, Ray Parker Jr. sued Huey Lewis for violating the original settlement’s non-disclosure agreement by discussing it on VH1’s show Behind the Music.

None of this drama should, nor does, detract from the song itself. The Ghostbusters theme is easily one of the most popular, hook-filled, memorable movie themes of all time, and it’s a Halloween staple at parties and on the radio. Popularity, of course, invites imitation; secondhandsongs.com identifies about 40 cover versions, from artists as disparate as David Essex and Andrew Gold to the Leningrad Cowboys. There are lots of note-for-note recreations, and many that reflect the style of the performer. Here are five of them, in no particular order, each bringing something a little bit different to the party.
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May 142019
 
mark kozelek huey lewis

Mark Kozelek is no stranger to finding the gourmet meal in what others might consider fast food. A prolific songwriter whose own tunes have gotten progressively less melodic and lyrics have gotten more and more literal, Kozelek has not lost his touch in turning rock songs into acoustic vignettes. Here, he takes the Huey Lewis and the News 1985 pop rock song “The Power of Love” and, with the help of singer/violinist Petra Haden, he finds the beauty at its core. Continue reading »

Dec 032018
 
walker lukens cover

Wrapping up a 2018 that saw him release the critically acclaimed album Tell It To The Judge and open for Spoon at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium, Austin singer-songwriter Walker Lukens recently played a concert for local radio station KUTX. Before the show, the station polled their listeners on what song Walker and The Side Arms should cover. The Huey Lewis and the News hit “I Want a New Drug” was the clear audience favorite, winning over Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream,” “Cinnamon Girl,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and “Crazy in Love.” Continue reading »

Mar 072014
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Dave Edmunds plays rock and roll in a particular style. It’s the version of rock and roll that existed in the late ’50s and early ’60s. And he’s been very true to it. But don’t be too quick to label him “retro” – he just continues to mine a vein of rock and roll that most musicians abandoned throughout the last third of the century. Those few others who have stuck with that early rock and roll blueprint (Brinsley Schwarz, Flamin’ Groovies, Ducks Deluxe) have probably worked with Edmunds. His sound is consistent, and being a good singer, guitarist and producer, that’s a fine thing to be. But he doesn’t discriminate when picking covers – he’s as likely to do something classic as he is something contemporary.

When looking at a career that is full of covers, it can be tough to figure out which ones best represent the artist. Many of Edmunds’ early singles are very precise covers of classic R&B. Maybe too precise. But once he shed a bit of his perfectionist tendencies (and started working with Nick Lowe), he provided the covers room to breathe and made many an old song into something fresh.
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Oct 262012
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Huey Lewis and the News followed the “ka-” of 1982’s Picture This with the “BOOM” of 1983’s Sports. Patrick Bateman was right; it was the album where they really come into their own, commercially and artistically. If any of the album’s nine songs (five of them Top Twenty) were to be its signature song, it would have to be “I Want a New Drug.” Subtitled “(Called Love)” – this was the Just Say No era, after all – this crazy little thing was the band’s best-selling single, inspiring Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” (according to a settled lawsuit) and Weird Al Yankovic’s “I Want a New Duck” (“Not a swan or a goose / Just a drake I can dress real cute / Think I’m gonna name him Bruce”).
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Aug 302011
 

Given their relative proximity to the A.V. Club’s Chicago offices, the Hold Steady always seemed like a perfect choice for A.V. Undercover. Believe it or not, though, they were only the fallback choice for this song. Marnie Stern originally covered Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Power of Love,” but technical difficulties apparently ruined the recording. So in steps the Hold Steady to save the day with another cover. Continue reading »