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.
This week we’re working through the entire six decades that produced over 150 versions of this timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. You can read what we said about the ’60s, the ’70s, and the ’80s by following the links. Now to end the century in style…
Part IV: The ’90s
The ‘90s were weird. A variety of styles and quality were reflected during the decade. Although the output of verifiable covers more than doubled over the previous 10 years, none would challenge the staying power of Naked Eyes’ ‘83 version. But Mr. Bacharach could have never predicted the popularity of grunge and it would have been hard to envision any of his songs being delivered in that alt rock style or any of its indie/emo/power pop offshoots. The decade brought us that, and as you’ll see, much more. In the ‘90s…
The Absolute Zeros version is good.
The Hippos version is better.
Rebecca’s Empire version is best.
The Absolute Zeros – (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
This short-lived indie power pop group added their energetic take of the song to 1998’s What The World Needs Now tribute compilation. It’s a clean production performed faster than the speed limit in Green Day fashion.
The Hippos – (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
On their second album the former ska-punkers ratchet up the poppiness, and in this big sounding 1999 version carve out their own place. The group disbanded a few years later.
Rebecca’s Empire – (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
Employing a sitar, funky rhythm guitar and a trippy rock vibe, Australian songstress Rebecca Barnard, who fronted this indie pop group, pulls off a major coup. You’ll hear the Go-Go’s and B-52s influences in this standout 1998 track which appeared on yet another indie tribute compilation, To Hal and Bacharach (one of the cleverest titles that genre has ever seen). The group called it quits after two albums, but Barnard forged a solo career that includes an album released earlier this year.
Braid – Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
The post-punk emo-rockers provide everything you would expect in a full grunge-styled version of the song.
The Captain Howdy – Always Something There to Remind Me (Burt Bacharach cover)
Personifying the weirdness of the decade was this version from yet another alt rock outfit. Not just any alt rockers, you may recognize the ubiquitous Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) on vocals, along with Shimmy-Disc record label founder Mark Kramer, joined by voice actor/comedian Billy West on guitar.
• A rocking new wave version from the venerable, but admittedly reconstituted, Troggs. (1990)
• Early-EDM, Tin Tin Out featuring Espiritu, with the first in its genre, created a UK hit. A good, slickly produced, euro house effort with multiple remixes, the arrangement strays far from the original. (1995)
• More indie alt rock, Clock Strikes Thirteen with some slow emo shoegaze. (1997)
• We’ve got R&B! Dionne Warwick (1998) returns with a perplexing reboot, and popular English singer Joe Longthorne (1999) lip-syncs his power ballad.
• We’ve got instrumentals! McCoy Tyner Trio (1997), California Chamber Orchestra (1997), Apollo (1998), and the Brazilian Tropical Orchestra (1999) each with a different, unique spin worthy of a listen.
Part V: The ’00s
The original Lou Johnson version can be found on Amazon. The original Sandie Shaw version can also be found on Amazon.
A pleasurable auditory experience. Didn’t disagree with the order for GBB. A plus for the Better was the album art by Mad magazines celebrated illustrator, Jack Davis
Hopefully a 00s or 10s honorable mention willbe a high school football half time show showcasing the featured song. The song would have been an influence in the youth for a least 2 Band Directors.