Most of the world first heard Sam Smith via Smith’s vocal turn on English electronic duo Disclosure’s hit “Latch.” Smith has collaborated with them a couple times since, and now the partnership continues with Smith’s new cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” produced by Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence. The track doesn’t differ that much from the original, but Smith’s inimitable falsetto proves a perfect match for this disco classic.
What is the difference between pastiche and parody, I wonder? The dictionary tells us the first becomes the second when comic intent is sought. That said, pastiche all too often implies a knowing degree of tongue in cheek, and, however lovingly performed, I fear this is where the outcome lies on the Band of Love’s album Folk Fever.
Certainly nobody designed Folk Fever to make you laugh. Indeed, the standard of playing and singing, by a selection of the UK folk scene’s finest established and upcoming names, is exemplary, the love evident in the performances. The key players are probably unknown outside purist circles – they would be Jim Causley, Greg Russell, Alice James and the duo of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, all of whom have made respectable names for themselves on the folk circuit in Britain. Older timers like Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, aka Show of Hands, perhaps known to these pages for this, and Mike McGoldrick, a flute and pipes whiz currently earning a crust with Mark Knopfler, are along to add gravitas, instrumentally and vocally.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Have you heard of Ted Templeman?
Anyone who knows their ’70s record producers should recognize the name.
Perhaps you know the albums he produced: Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes, and all the ’70s records by the Doobie Brothers.
Probably his signature production work is on all the Roth-era Van Halen albums (he’s the guy who says “C’mon, Dave, gimme a break” in “Unchained”).
Yet Templeman has one highly unusual skeleton in his closet, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today.
Certain records labels come to represent a sound as fully as the bands they represent. Sub Pop, Epitaph, Matador – all names that conjure up a particular aesthetic for those familiar with their roster. Anova Music may not boast the fame or history of the big labels, but with its small lineup it too represents a specific sound: Israeli indie. Genre-wise, it’s all over the board – from the EatLiz hard rockers to jazz singer Ruth Dolores Weiss – but the small community stays strong.
On a selfish note, we like Anova because of all the covers they send us. Whether generated by label policy or coincidental artist initiative, the songs always deliver. In September we posted Electra’s cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and we recently named Weiss’ Leonard Cohen cover one of the best of 2010.
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
A Donna Summer concept album is a horrible idea. Yet in 1977, it happened. I Remember Yesterday was that album, but the concept seems half-baked. Side one was “remembering yesterday” and side two was “the future.” That would make the listener flipping the record over “the present” I guess.
“I Feel Love” comes from “the future” and became the album’s biggest hit, despite each verse only containing three words. Rolling Stone named it the 441st best song of all time. This seems questionable, but it shows the track has staying power. Still, the original is so disco-ey I get a headache before it’s halfway through. Tel Aviv-based trio Electra’s massive electro-rock cover is much less dated. Check it out below, then hear their equally terrific take on Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” here.
Part two of our 80’s tribute series, we follow up all the rockin’ with a little new wave pop.
Jake Shimabukuro – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
The smooth Hawaiian sounds of Jake’s ukulele became a youtube hit with his While My Guitar Gently Weeps cover, but this take is almost as soulful. I wish the lounge background music was stripped though.
KT Tunstall – Walk Like an Egyptian (The Bangles)
A live take here, it’s not too dissimilar to the original, but fun nevertheless. Tunstall says she chose to cover it because of its musical similarity to her single “Hold On.”
Johnny Cash – Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode)
Another classic off the same album that brought the world “Hurt,” this one is a little faster paced. The rollicking piano backs Cash’s broken but forceful vocals.
Norman Palm – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
Sensitive but not pathetic, the guitar harmonies match the vocal ones on this quiet take that would sound like a completely legit song if you ignored the lyrics.
Adam Selzer – Like a Prayer (Madonna)
Dark piano adds a gothic touch to this outtake that gets all touching for the chorus.
Fabienne Louves – She Works Hard for the Money (Donna Summer)
A Swiss German cover here, it’s electro-disco-fun in a language you can’t understand. Hurray!
Kevin Davis – 99 Red Balloons (Nina)
No synths or drum machines here, the riff is taken over by a harmonica. I wish they’d done the German version, but you’ve probably had enough of that after the previous song.
Der Tanz Der Vampire – Totale Finsternis (Total Eclipse of the Heart) (Bonnie Tyler)
Like the original only even more orchestrally epic, this song was rewritten by Jim Steinmen for his German vampire musical. It’s a dark and Gothic bloodsucking love duet that totally eclipses the original. The musical had a brief Broadway run in 2003, but having been rewritten as a camp number was a huge flop. Just go and watch a video of an abridged version from the original Austrian production to understand.
Bat for Lashes – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics)
A thumping, echoey version, it’s trippy psychedelia for the electronic millennium.
The Editors – Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)
An Americana-inflected take, it starts out with a powerful voice and little else and builds from there into an acoustic power ballad.