May 302014

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

Once upon a time, there was a kind of music that was too dangerous to be sung on the radio, on TV commercials, at sporting events. But a band could spend sixty-four hundred dollars to make an album filled with this music, and watch the people’s reactions change over the decades from fear to fascination to full-on embrace. That’s what happened with the debut album by the Ramones, which opened with “Blitzkrieg Bop,” arguably the most influential song in the history of punk rock.

Clocking in at a shade over two minutes, “Blitzkrieg Bop” is aptly titled – it’s a lightning war that doesn’t forget to dance. Loud, anthemic, and impossibly upbeat (as long as you pay no attention to the line about shooting them in the back), it launched the Ramones in their headlong journey, and it’s still making fervid converts long after they made their final adioses.

Any number of punk bands have made power chord soundalikes; today we’re going to look at five artists who brought the song into their own comfort zone and did unto it as they would have others do unto them. Ready to hear what they came up with? Okay, then – hey, ho, let’s go…

Glambeats Corp. (feat. Chepito) – Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones cover)

We’ll ease into this with a “Blitzkrieg Bop” from Bossa n’ Ramones, a collection that dials down the chainsaw roar to a chilled-out purr. Things never sounded this exotic at Rockaway Beach.

The Beautiful South – Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones cover)

Golddiggas Headnodders & Pholk Songs was a 2004 album almost full of covers by the Beautiful South, a smart indie-Brit band – so smart, in fact, that the question arose as to whether they were smirking or serious about the treatment they accorded these songs. Face it: when you open an album with a new take on “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, it’s a valid question to ask. Suffice to say the Ramones never pictured “Blitzkrieg Bop” sounding like this.

Bob Delevante – Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones cover)

These days Bob Delevante makes his living as an award-winning graphic designer and photographer, but he sure knows his way around a music studio, too. After a Buddy Holly-based fakeout, he drops it down a gear and goes into an acoustic “Blitzkrieg Bop” – only the word “acoustic” doesn’t convey the song’s feel at all. Both powerful and laid-back, its breezy force gives the song a welcome new spin.

The C-Nuts – Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones cover)

File under Hey Ho, Let’s Go, Daddy-O – Blitzkrieg Bop and Other Jazz Mutations sees the C-Nuts taking songs from the mid-70s to mid-80s and making them jump, jive, and wail. The title track puts the bop back in “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and suddenly CBGB’s is on 52nd Street.

Wardogs – Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones cover)

This cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” comes from a benefit album called PGA Italian Punks Go Acoustic… For Good. Not only is it for a good cause (offering free courses music to children with disabilities), it does a nice job bringing new voices to old favorites. Most of the covers focus on ’90s bands (three from Blink-182 alone!), but as the Wardogs show, they don’t forget to pay respect to the pioneers.

All revved up and ready to go listen to Ramones, the first home of “Blitzkrieg Bop”? Listen to it on YouTube; buy it at iTunes and Amazon.

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