Covers better than the original – Discuss

There are lots of posts on here about cover versions.  Whether you are of the “it’s just bastardising a perfectly good piece of music” school or persuaded by the “all art is derivative and is there for others to build and improve on” argument, there’s no avoiding them.  Musicians are positively encouraged to perform their own versions of other artists songs.

There are the covers that have become so embedded in the listener psyche it has almost been forgotten they are covers (think Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U), there are those you hear and wonder why the band or artist thought it was a good idea to cover that track, they bring nothing new to the table, in fact they spoil the original (my opinion, but think Metallica’s cover of Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar – why???).

There are the covers that are clever and polar opposite to the original and offer an alternative sound (try Daughter’s cover of Daft Punk’s Get Luck or Lissie’s version of Kid Cuddy’s Pursuit of Happiness).  There are the covers that are different enough and executed brilliantly in their own right to stand up to the original and be just as good (Tricky’s cover of Public Enemy).  And then, dear reader, there are those covers that raise the song to another level becoming better than the original.  I’m thinking of the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails or Jimi Hendrix’ version of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.  I love these two songs much more than their originals – in fact I never even listen to the originals because both these artists made these songs their own.

The other day I was listening to Bowie’s Station to Station.  The last track is the much covered Johnny Mathis song Wild is the Wind.   In fact I actually thought this was a Nina Simone track because she did a couple of versions of it; I stand corrected by Wiki.  In a step that may well annoy some of you jazz lovers out there I will admit to disliking every version I’ve heard of this song but Bowie’s.  I love it.  I mean, really adore it.  I love the guitars, I love the slightly bossa-nova beat.  His voice is so heartfelt and aching.  There’s a real honesty and desperation about his delivery.  So much better than the original.  It’s not the only Bowie cover I think is better than the original either…I’ll let you try to guess the other.

But this got me thinking, like these things always do – which other covers are better than the original?  Obviously, as is the case with most stuff related to music, this is an opinion thing, but I’d like to know your thoughts.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

 

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Divination” by Emerald Suspension.

Emerald Suspension are definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste, but what they do is definitely going to appeal to people who like their music from somewhere Out There.

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The Wheel of Your Tune

The Wheel of Your Tune works like this; I metaphorically turn my spinning top to reveal a random letter and number.  The letter relates to an artist or the name of an album in my collection and the number relates to the track by that artist or on that album.  This week’s spin landed on H5.

My H5 track is Herbie Hancock – Black Gravity from his Future 2 Future album.

 

What’s your H5 track?

 

Eurovision (not what you think) – Discuss

I was out of the country for The Eurovision Song contest.  This annual musical fiesta used to be a staple of my childhood, but it’s been years since I watched it all the way through.  I don’t have the attention span or patience for a programme of that length often offering mostly dodgy tunes.  When I did used to watch it regulalry, I was fascinated by the difference in musical styles and fashions; what I thought was dreadful would be amazing to a Belgian.  I also used to love cackling along as Terry Wogan giggled his way through the presentation.   It’s not been the same for me since he stopped doing it.  Baa humbug – what a miserablist I can be!

While Eurovision was going on, I was in Mallorca.  The bars played a mixture of music I recognised from my daughter’s chart playlist and Europop my ears had never heard before and wasn’t at all offensive.  On the plane home I flicked through SleazyJet’s in-flight magazine and came across an article titled “How To Be Bigger Than Björk” I wasn’t about to let that one pass without reading it.  The article is an interview with Icelandic musician, Ásgeir and describes his sound as a mix between Ben Howard and James Blake – so far so good.  I had a listen once I was home and over my cycling fatigue.  It’s really quite lovely; the journalist’s description is pretty accurate, I would also add a hint of Mumford and Sons too.  I can’t say he’ll be a permanent feature of my playlists yet it was an interesting discovery.

It made me realise there must be hundreds of artists doing well in their own nations and territories of Europe that are relatively unknown to listeners outside their homeland.  Don’t get me wrong, I know and love plenty of European bands and musicians – because they are played on UK radio.  I tend not to seek out musical gems unless it’s made known to me first or recommended by a friend.  Call it ignorance or laziness – I also don’t have the time.  That’s where you come in!  I want you to tell me about European gems you’ve come across that deserve a wider audience outside their homeland.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

The Wheel of Your Tune

The Wheel of Your Tune works like this; I metaphorically turn my spinning top to reveal a random letter and number.  The letter relates to an artist or the name of an album in my collection and the number relates to the track by that artist or on that album.  This week’s spin landed on Y4.

I don’t have much music by artists starting with Y – the 6th artist in my catalogue is Young MC and the 6th track on his album Stone Cold Rhymin’ is My Name is Young.

What’s your Y6 track?

Balearic sound – Discuss

I’m away this weekend.  This post comes to you via the mystery that is “scheduled posting”.   As it goes live I should have a beer in my hand at the end of my first ride of the weekend on one of the Balearic islands.  I’m not on the club loving island, but I am sufficiently close to inspire this week’s topic.

The Balearic sound is difficult to pin down as Ibiza has a long history of drawing clubbing crowds.  Even before super-DJs like Carl Cox started endless residencies at the island’s bigger clubs, there were DJs laying the foundation for sounds that would morph into what we all think of as classic Balearic – lyrically emotional, blissed out, sunset, piano and strings.   These foundations came in the form of Carly Simon, Roxy Music and Fleetwood Mac – anything with a danceable beat and groove.  Just listen to Big Love enough and you can hear the basis of later club tracks; up-tempo beat, breathy loved-up noises and soaring vocals.

To me the Balearic sound is about blissful club classics and chill out tunes – but you don’t have to be heading to the club at 1am or coming down at 5am to enjoy these tunes; I love tracks like Sebastian Tellier’s La Ritournelle, I find it calming to have on when driving home after a difficult day at work.  That one is relatively recent.  Other favs are these:

Richie Havens – Going Back to My Roots.  An older funk track rediscovered by the Ibiza massive and played everywhere in clubs favouring the Balearic sound.  Oh those pianos!

I have Sweet Harmony somewhere (not to be confused with the great house track by Liquid), however The Sun is Rising is a lovely end of the night/start of the morning chill out track.

I rediscovered Antena’s Camino del Sol only the other week when I was listening to stuff out at around the same time as Young Marble Giants.  This is such a sweet track with a samba sound to it.  Lovely.

Then there’s the Andrew Weatherall mix of The Grid – Flotation.  Perfect mix of heady chill-out room vibe and club favourite.

I realise I’ve gone for the tamer end of the scale with my choices here.  With summer fast approaching I thought it would be a nice idea to find some new tunes and get a Balearic playlist together.  I’m looking for songs that defined the roots of Balearic Beat, classic Ibiza club tunes and Cafe del Mar style chill out tracks. I won’t be around to read your discussion or comment until Monday, but trust you to get the night going and the chill out room relaxed.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?