(Groovyshark links – alas no youtube)
I seem to be in a classic rock kinda mood today, so i figured it was as good a time as any to have a look at these 2 guys as cover artists. Lotta similarities here – both have (arguably i suppose) some of the finest pipes ever bestowed upon mortals and their voices often (inexplicablty to me) get confused. They shared a band – Stevie Marriott was with the Small Faces until he quit to form the Pie, and Rod Stewart took his place on pipes and Ronnie Wood took over his axework and they morphed into the Faces. They both wrote songs, and some damn good ones too, but covered more than their share. Many of the same artists. Small Faces was one of the most original and inventive bands going, and yet Stevie left to do a few great original tunes (30 Days in the Hole, Thunderbox, Hot and Nasty) and a slew of covers with the Pie. Rod went solo and did a few great original songs (Every Picture Tells a Story, Maggie May, You Wear It Well, Mandolin Wind), some ok ones, some shit ones, and a buttload of covers of varying quality.
My thesis here – it takes a lot more than great pipes to make a great cover. You have to pick your songs properly. You can’t just fucking mail it in because your voice is great. If you can try to blame it on the drugs for Stevie, you probably can’t for Rod, he seems relatively issues free. The Blessed Stevie had a lot less time with us so we’ll never know, Rod has had quite a bit more. (Supposedly Keef wanted Stevie to take over for second guitar when Mick Taylor left, Mick Jagger is not stupid and nixed it as there was no way he was going to let those glorious pipes anywhere near his own.) His voice has gotten even better with age. And he sucks more. And seems to be a great guy and loves his audience. Way too much i reckon, he panders. Shoud spit beer at them and turn his back like John Lydon.
My take below – feel free to disagree / argue / add 2p. Or ignore if it’s not your bag (i reckon i’m probably nearly alone here.)
1) Faces – Angel (Hendrix cover) – What’s to hate. Great tune, easy enough to cover. Don’t think it touches Jimi’s though.
2) Faces – (I Know) I’m Losing You (Temptations cover) – I think this is a bang up cover. Kenney Jones doesn’t suck either.
3) Rod Stewart – Handbags and Gladrags (Mike D’Abo cover) – Have your Stereophonics, i think this is the best version going. Just gorgeous. I think Sakura’s dad got Mike D’Abo’s zedded though. Beauty of a tune.
4) Rod Stewart – REason to Believe (Tim Hardin cover) Beauty of a cover.
5) Rod Stewart – Country Comforts (Elton John cover) Nice tune. I’ll take Rod’s over Elton’s, but no beef with the original either. Except the song itself a bit twee.
6) Rod Stewart – The First Cut is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover) – Again, best version going for my money. Better than Cat’s even.
7) Rod Stewart – Bring it on Home to Me / You Send Me (Sam Cooke covers) – Ah. Sam Cooke is Rod’s favorite singer hands down. And sorry, for me he’s not a patch on the originals here. He does a pretty decent Twisting The Night Away, but that’s a bit lighter of a tune too.
8) Rod Stewart – Have You Ever Seen the Rain (CCR cover) Nothing to hate here. He did an album of classic rock covers, this ain’t bad. But i don’t really know what he adds to it either.
9) Rod Stewart / Jeff Beck – People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield cover) – I don’t really mind this cover either.
10) Small Faces – If I Were a Carpenter (Tim Hardin cover) I still don’t think there has been a definitive version for this gorgeous song done yet. Or if there is, i haven’t heard it. Small Faces do as good a job as anyone. Except for Robert Plant, whose version i like best so far. More low key interpretation than Stevie’s, and i think ultimately a bit more heartfelt. Could do without the strings though. Unnecessary saccharine.
11) Humble Pie – I Don’t Need No Doctor (Ray Charles cover) – This kicks ass.
12) Humble Pie – Anna (Beatles cover) – I actually love this cover, i think Stevie gets some real longing in there. But Stevie does some pretty shit Beatles covers too, there are 3 of them on another Pie album. I have no idea why they bothered, but they split up after that album.
13) Humble Pie – 99 Pounds (Ann Peebles cover) – This is a pretty decent cover, but i think the original is still better. For that matter, the Black Crowes do a bang up cover too. The Pie also covered Ann’s I Can’t Stand the Rain on the same album, it’s ok.
14) Humble Pie – I Walk on Guilded Splinters (Dr John Cover) – This is what a cover should be. Dr. John’s magnificent and classic original would seem to be untouchable, and there are some seriously
shit ill-advised attempts out there. (Hi Paul Weller, wtf were you thinking.) The Pie does a 25 minute wank – free version (ok, arguably) on Rockin the Fillmore with some great axework (from both Stevie and Peter Frampton), harp, and Stevie’s pipes dialed down low creating their own brand of bluesy voodoo.
So what’s the problem here. Well, i left out the
shit ill-advised covers. Both did crappy Stones covers (of songs i’m not particularly attached to), Rod did meh to crappy Dylan covers, and we don’t really need to get into Rod’s American songbook. Jeebus, my mom likes him now. Rod’s rock classics album has some lameass choices. I like Kim Wylde’s Supremes cover better than his. I would have love to hear both of them sing some more blues. Sadly Stevie isn’t with us, but maybe he’s been saved some indignity. As Rod’s still here, sing it like you mean it, dude.