Nov 032022
 
Here Comes the Rain Again covers

The Mayflower Hotel was located at Central Park West between 61st and 62nd street in New York City. It was constructed in 1926 and stood for over seven decades before being demolished in 2004. It was not a fancy place (the New York Times called it “drab and brown”) and its sad, singular claim to fame was that Pat Sullivan, producer of the Felix the Cat cartoon lived there in the ’30s.

Even though it stood for nearly 80 years, the only acknowledgment of the hotel’s existence is a tiny plaque on a nearby bench on Broadway featuring this clinical and decidedly unromantic inscription:

The funding for these benches was provided in 1996 by The Mayflower Hotel

Whatever New York City office was responsible for the text on that plaque blew it. They opted for cold acknowledgment when they could have imbued that bench with magical, magnetic pop power forever. Here is what the plaque should have said:

In 1983, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, the musicians collectively known as “Eurythmics” composed “Here Comes The Rain Again” during a stay at The Mayflower Hotel.” Continue reading »

Nov 012022
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song. In this post we present one cover for each of Eminem’s five diamond singles.

eminem covers

In Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop he provides some background on why covers by and of rappers are so hard to come by:

“The likely explanation for the dearth of covers in rap is that rap’s audience and rappers themselves wish to propagate the belief– and sometimes the illusion– that a rapper is delivering his or her own words, that we are hearing directly from the mind behind the voice. This is a fundamental tenet of rap authenticity, partly the product of acculturated belief and partly the product of the fact that rapping, as a means of vocalization that’s close to speech, carries with it the same presumption as speech: that speakers speak for themselves.”

Despite this, we have talked about Eminem on this blog before, from banjo to mashup cover, from an old-school T-Swift interpretation to a take on the controversial “Kim”, and many more. Perhaps this is because he inspires others to speak period, if not for themselves per se. In this same book that interprets rap lyrics as literature, Bradley gives some context about what makes Eminem’s approach to rap so novel:

“It’s easy to spot rap’s true lyrical innovators because not only will they likely be rapping about different things from everyone else, they’ll be using different words to do it. Eminem, for instance, had to conceive a bunch of new rhyming words to describe the experiences of a working-class white kid from a trailer park in Detroit who rises to superstardom. Who else would think to rhyme “public housing systems” with “victim of Munchausen syndrome”?

Rappers have slowly made their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (if rappers are poets, why not also be rockers). Jay-Z’s turn came last year, and The Notorious B.I.G.’s turn came the year before. This year Eminem takes his place among legends. This time around we try to find covers that haven’t previously been showcased on this blog, and in honor of Eminem’s induction, we find covers of each of his five diamond-level singles.

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Jun 242022
 

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

George Michael

The title track from George Michael’s Faith album saw the former Wham! member further shedding his bubblegum image. After the shock of the lyrics to the first single from that album, “I Want Your Sex,” the second single was more about the music, combining blue-eyed soul with rock ‘n’ roll, mashing up Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy into a very hot and tasty stew. “Faith” wound up being Billboard’s number one single for all of 1988. Accept it before it destroys you, it said. Oh, wait – sorry, that was Dana Carvey as George Michael.

As “Faith” covers go, Limp Bizkit made the biggest impression with theirs, racking up over 25 million YouTube views and over 55 million Spotify plays. But not everyone liked it, including Michael himself: “What we’ve heard from George Michael’s people is that he hates it and hates us for doing it,” said guitarist Wes Borland. So we decided to seek out five other covers that may be less famous, but which have something that hits us just right.

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Jun 072022
 

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

Long Train Runnin

Just how good a song is the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin'”? No, I mean it–just how good is it? Yes, yes, I know the sun is shining and it feels like Spring At Last, but this song, y’know, isn’t it pure essence of get outside and dance? Unassailable on all fronts, it is the spirit of yeah, the unashamed shake yer head, shake yer hips of boogie, and from the casual shake of the wrist in the first few bars, it has defied its near-half-century age to infect me once again.

Tom Johnston should be revered for this song, rather than just being the bloke in the Doobies before Michael McDonald. Or, for that matter, the bloke in the Doobies after Michael McDonald. Or, indeed, with Michael McDonald, such has the revolving door of band membership been. But, however mighty was the McDonald-helmed version, and before his silver hair and tonsils became their calling card, the band had had a run of singles, all written and sung by Johnston, all instantly recognizable, if likewise all easily confused, being all cut from a similar cloth.
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May 062022
 

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

Strangers in the Night

SecondHandSongs says that the two most-covered songs written in 1966 were by the Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby” and “Here, There and Everywhere.” That’s no surprise. The next two most-covered songs from that year were written by another songwriting team; Burt Bacharach and Hal David came up with “The Look of Love” and “Alfie.” Also no big surprise.

But then comes the fifth-most-covered song of 1966: “Beddy Bye” by Bert Kaempfert. Ring any bells? If not, perhaps you’ll recognize it from the movie it appeared in – the James Garner comedy-thriller A Man Could Get Killed. Still no? Well, at the time it had no lyrics, but once they arrived, and once Frank Sinatra sang them, it became immortal as “Strangers in the Night.”
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Apr 082022
 

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

Beatles Yesterday covers

This post has been a long time coming. Any cover song site worth its weight in scrambled eggs has to touch on the most covered song by the most covered band of all time. So now we arrive at “Yesterday” by the Beatles, a song they recorded four days before Paul McCartney turned 23. (They recorded “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “I’m Down” during the same session – not a bad day’s work, Paul.)

“Yesterday” was the first Beatles song to feature only one member, and the first to feature a string quartet. The lads weren’t especially keen on the song, burying it deep on side two of Help! and not allowing it to be released as a single in the UK. Matt Monro stepped up to release his version two months after the Beatles released theirs. Après Matt, le déluge – over a hundred covers in 1966 alone, over three thousand covers total according to the Guinness Book of World Records (you get the sense that they eventually threw up their hands and stopped counting).

Sinatra, Aretha, Dylan, Elvis – all of them recorded terrific versions. Many more great ones were recorded by artists who weren’t known by only one name. Parodies were recorded by artists from EuFourla to the Beatles themselves (on their 1965 Christmas record). In fact, never has the topic “Five Good Covers” felt more woefully inadequate than it does for this song. Nevertheless, we persist, and we hope you enjoy these five drops in “Yesterday”‘s ocean.
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