Sep 182015
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

 
When all the bien-pensant trendsetters diss the Eagles (and they do, they do), “Boys of Summer,” written post-Eagles 1.0 and pre-hell freezing over by Don Henley, their best singer and their best writer, is the song that leads my opening statement for the defense. I remember the first time I heard it; I’d long before grown weary of the old band, but this song astonished and delighted. The combination of sound and lyric served to kick me into a mythical time remembered, irrespective of impossibility, brown skins shining in what little sun made it into my drab surroundings, lifting me into celebration, looking back, yes, always looking back. (I recall actual Deadheads kicking up over the perceived lyrical put-down, but to me, hell, it was a reminder and a kick-start.)

It’s a difficult song to do well, as the original hits all the bases available. Second Hand Songs tells me at least twenty-three have tried, with YouTube adding several more risible attempts to the list. One was even a successful hit in Eurodisco land, as some may remember. Wanna hear that one again? Tough, it ain’t here tonight. But here are three others, in ascending order of quality.
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Jun 242011
 

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

“Waterloo Sunset” is not just any song…this Kinks song is revered. Millions of Cockneys identify with it like Philadelphia Flyer fans used to identify with Kate Smith’s “God Bless America.” The effect that hearing “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” has on a Marine is similar to the passions and memories stirred in many Brits when they hear,”As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.” After all, this is the composition that critic Robert Christgau called “The most beautiful song in the English language.” It been voted the “Greatest Song About London” by London radio listeners. It’s the track that on its own would have cemented Ray Davies’ reputation as one of rock’s finest songwriters, even had he not written dozens of other exceptional songs. Continue reading »