Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Friday, October 1, 2010

B Side Presents, "Friday Gut Check - Cover Me, I'm Goin' In"

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right?

I certainly think so. I've talked about this briefly before, but I think it needs repeating. I LOVE covers! And why shouldn't I? Take a song I already enjoy, let's say that song is Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. Now, I enjoy it. I have listened to Mac sing that song at least 100 times in my life. Well all of the sudden Dixie Chicks cover it. Slightly different twist - didn't like it as much as the original, but hey, well done. Oh what's that? Smashing Pumpkins did a cover of that song too? Put it on! I heard that and thought, man - what a great song. Two bigger acts covering one song by another bigger act, it's great. In this case, the three versions weren't super different, but that's what makes it interesting to me. The idea that a band would sit in a studio for hours and try to master a song they all love and want to pay tribute to. Very cool.

Sometimes covers can be so off the wall, you might not even recognize them. Yesterday's example of Reel Big Fish singing Take On Me. Very different feel to it, slightly exaggerated on the vocal. I loved it. You'll notice I put a photo of Weezer as my header today. On their latest release Hurley, they covered Coldplay's, Viva La Vida. It's nothing stupendous, but I thought it was cool just that they covered it. One of my favorite concert memories was going to a Deftones show back in the day. They played all their hits, so when the encore came along, no one really knew what they'd play. Turns out, they came out and covered Weezer's, Say It Ain't So. It was outstanding. The whole crowd went absolutely nuts. So the question is, why don't artists do that more often? The fans seem to like it, I have to assume the previous artist is if nothing else flattered, but it also generates buzz about them as well. It's a win-win!

There have been some really good ones over the years and some really bad ones. No doubt. Here's my challenge to you B Siders! Give me your Top 5 covers of all time. I'm going to try to get Heidi in on this later too, but you all can motivate her into putting her list together. I'll toss out five of my faves, but honestly, I have so many more than that. It will be very hard to decide which of them belongs in a Top 5 list. The hard work of a blogger! Anyway, listen to your favorite covers all day today. If you have your iPod at work, run an 'On The Go' playlist with nothing but covers. I guarantee your day will fly by. Happy Friday!

My Top 5 Covers:

5. I Will Survive - Cake covering Gloria Gaynor: Great cover by Cake. Gaynor obviously had that motown upbeat feel to it. Everyone loved that track. Cake added some guitar work and a more stripped down vocal. They kept a horn sound in the background and works perfectly with the guitar. Awesome job.

4. Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica covering Thin Lizzy: This is one of the more drastic change covers in my five. The Thin Lizzy version is very light, and the guitar work is almost second fiddle to the vocal. Metallica completely reversed that. They really emphasized the solo work and Hetfield added a really hard, gruff vocal instead of the polished Lizzy version. It works, and works extremely well. I didn't listen to this song when it was just Lizzy, now it's an iPod regular.

3. Mad World - Gary Jules covering Tears For Fears: It's not their fault, but Tears for Fears was an 80's band. With such a haunting track like Mad World, it shouldn't have been such an upbeat, synthed out 4 minutes of nonsense. No disrespect for them (because I actually like a few of their songs) but that version was really bad. Gary Jules comes around and just nails it. He made it into the haunting track that it should have been to begin with. Excellent work.

2. Oh, Me - Nirvana covering Meat Puppets: Meat Puppets were fairly obscure, and I don't think a ton of people knew who they were. When Nirvana did the Unplugged album in the early 90's, I'm guessing if Cobain hadn't proclaimed, "that was the Meat Puppets" - not everyone would have known it wasn't a Nirvana original. I don't think the Puppets did a bad job with the song, but Nirvana really kicked it up a notch. Cobain's rough live vocal combined with the acoustic guitar blows my mind. If you stack both up side to side, it's a great listen.

1. Hurt - Johnny Cash covering NIN: Was there any doubt? I mean, if you know me not just from the blog - you know I adore this song. Reznor did a great job with the original, and Cash didn't change all that much in his version. Cash had one thing going over Trent though, he was actually dying. Listening to a man who at one point, had very upbeat tracks and was a great performer - now very unpolished and a slight slur in his voice due to age, is gripping. And the lyrics are perfect for a man who knows he's hitting his end. The video was equally haunting, as that Johnny Cash wasn't even recognizable if you'd seen him as a young man. Absolutely amazing.

That's what I got. Friday Gut Check time, toss out yours!


  1. I probably don't think about covers that much, but I did a little searching around, read through some lists, and all but one of them on this list I didn't think about without searching (I won't say which, but those who know me will probably figure out which).

    5. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Original (Bonnie Tyler (1983)), Remake (Nicki French (1994))
    4. Tainted Love - Original (Gloria Jones (1964)), Remake (Soft Cell (1981))
    3. Knockin' On Heavens Door - Original (Bob Dylan (1973)), Remake (Guns N' Roses (1991))
    2. Sea of Love - Original (Phil Phillips (1959)), Remake (The Honeydrippers (1984))
    1. American Woman - Original (Guess Who (1970)), Remake (Lenny Kravitz (1998))

  2. Nice work!

    Tainted Love is awesome. That almost made my list too.

    American Woman surprises me a little at number one...but I'm not a huge Kravitz fan.

    Excellent list!

  3. What about Marilyn Manson's Tainted Love?!? I think he focused the word "tainted" in the song... it's creepy but good!!

    Worst ever cover:
    Skye Sweetnum's "Part of Your World" from Little Mermaid! It's awful! Don't listen to it!

  4. I did enjoy Soft Cell's version more than Marilyn's. Both good though.

    Where is your Top 5?

    I'll have to come up with a worst ever. I have a couple in mind.

  5. I've been slacking off a bit here. My apologizes for not being on my game lately.

    I appreciate you reviewing Plan B a few days ago, I liked what you had to say.

    Hmm...My top 5 covers of all time, lets see.
    (now all these songs are #1 to me, the order is just so happens to be what came to mind at the time of typing lol. Like you B-Side, I have way more than 5):

    5) Isley Brothers cover of "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts(1972). The Isley Brothers issued there version in 1973 on the album "3+3".

    4) Phil Collins cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" by Diana Ross & The Supremes(1966). Phil Collins released his version in late 1982 on the album "Hello, I Must Be Going"

    3) Janet Jackson's cover/sample of "Your So Vain" by Carly Simon(1972). Janet's version was released in 2001 on her album "All For You". Titled "Son Of A Gun(I Bet You Think This Song Is About You)", you could say its more of a sample song and a duet. Quote, "If you could take Carly's voice out and try to imagine—which would probably be hard, because she's so awesome on this song—the song without her, that was the song. And obviously having to get her approval by using 'You're So Vain', I was on the phone with her and she wanted to just re-sing all her old parts and sing it all over again. I said, 'Yeah, I'm sure we can do that. That would be totally fine.' She said, 'I'd love to write just a line or two. Honestly there is no pressure [if] you guys don't want to use it. If you feel it fits, then go ahead and do so.' And Carly went back and wrote a whole song. It sounded so awesome that we decided to marry the two, and it really sounds, like, 'OK, we thought the whole thing through', for sure, and it worked perfectly, me co-singing what she sang. She doing the same as what I'm doing—co-singing what I sang—and that's how it became a duet." - Janet

    "I got first inkling of an interest through the usual link: a lawyer. Luckily mine was on the ball and interested and quick on his feet. He called me and made mention of the fact that Janet had recorded it and was going to call it: 'Son of a Gun'. She needed sample clearance. I asked that Janet call me, and she did that night. She could not have been sweeter or more appreciative. I said I would prefer to re-record everything that might otherwise have been sampled. Why get Elektra involved and potentially hold up the process? So, Jimmy Jam sent me their tracks and I went into a local studio here on the Vineyard and recorded about 10 new tracks worth of material. The rap was spontaneous and I didn't think they would end up using it, but they did and I couldn't be happier about it. It was the kind of fun you don't necessarily count on having." - Carly Simon

    2) Usher and Monica's cover of "Slow Jam" by Midnight Star(1983) on Ushers album "My Way" released in late 1997.

    1) Mike Posner's cover of "I Don't Trust Myself(Loving You)" by John Mayer(2006). Mike Posner released his version on his second mixtape "One Foot Out the Door" in 2009.

    Well...That's what my brain can dish out so far.

  6. The duet covers can be really entertaining at times. They have to be done right though. Sting doing 'Every Breath You Take' combined with the Bad Boy posse doing 'I'll Be Missing You' didn't really work for me. Greatest of intentions there, but it wasn't awesome.

    I don't think I'm familiar with your number 1. I'll have to check that one out!

    Thanks for the list!