When sharing cover versions by the opposite sex, an issue arose early on, henceforth to be known as the “Lauper-Orbison Complex”: how do you define a cover version?
I finally went with recording date.
This week “we’re concentrating less on what makes a good cover version overall, more in particular what a singer – or other kind of musician - of the opposite sex brings to it”. No mistaking what this musician brings to this first cover and yes it was originally by Cyndi Lauper but in this case its Miles Davis’s interpretation of “Time after Time”.
There were a great number of Springsteen nominations, so much so I suggested to our landlord that I might come back and Guru ‘Covers of The Boss’. My favourite cover wasn’t even nominated but this one highlights how controversial cover versions can be and is certainly a different portrayal than the original.
Springsteen wrote “Fire” with a view to Elvis recording it; sadly he passed away before this occurred and whilst The Boss’ version resembles The King’s style it never made the album: Darkness on the Edge of Town. It was subsequently released by The Pointer Sisters who had significantly more commercial success than Springsteen had achieved with any of his releases to that date.
Bon Iver’s vocals caught my attention immediately but I didn’t know the original of I Can’t Make You Love Me; good job to as I found Bonnie Raitt’s version somewhat bland by comparison.
Another vocalist that piqued my interest was Spanky Wilson’s cover of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, wow this woman can sing!
Often covers change the gender of the subject to fit with the gender of the singer, however for some reason Jackie Leven doesn’t in Dionne Warwick’s I Say A Little Prayer: hmmm, putting on ‘his’ make-up and deciding which dress to wear’ Jackie had better not go to North Carolina then!
The Bangles do a ‘popped’ up version of the classic Simon and Garfunkel tune Hazy Shade of Winter with the added electric guitar making this one stand out.
There had to be a Zep cover and eventually the one I had expected from the off was nominated after a slight rumination by the nominator, unfortunately as I subsequently decided to pick previously unlisted tunes I decreed it ineligible, apologies Ravi. Amy Lee however does complete justice to Going to California.
I’d not heard the original of this tune before but was caught by Sean Rowe’s vocals; it’s not dissimilar to the original but the change in perspective of a male singing does as suggested by the nominator change the dynamic to that of the soldier rather than “baby” staying at home.
Restyled punk next with Thea Gilmore’s stripped down version of Ever Fallen in Love.
There were several unusual alternatives of tunes this week: reggae, bossa nova, New Orleans style but probably none so different as Bobby McFerrin’s’ a cappella ‘body beat box’ version of Opportunity.
Though perhaps up there in the unusual stakes is a Belgian woman’s choir - Scala & Kolacny Brothers singing Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.
We’ll close with another instrumental the immediately recognisable “Somewhere over the Rainbow” in the masterly hands of Jeff Beck.
It has become customary to list 13 songs and as an exception to the self-imposed desire to list previously unlisted tunes I couldn’t take my leave this week without acknowledging our wonderful landlord who like this next singer puts his heart and soul in to providing us with a place to play this game.
The coverer’s performance of this last tune is so emotional, she puts every ounce of her heart and soul in to this, until she’s shaking with the effort, which isn’t easy given the original performer is accompanying her. Fiona Apple appears spent at the end of I Want You. A bit like me!
Miles Davis – Time After Time (originally by Cyndi Lauper)
The Pointer Sisters – Fire (originally by Bruce Springsteen)
Bon Iver – I Can’t Make You Love Me (originally by Bonnie Raitt)
Spanky Wilson – Sunshine Of Your Love (originally by Cream)
Jackie Leven – I Say A Little Prayer (originally by Dionne Warwick)
The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter (originally by Simon & Garfunkel)
Amy Lee – Going To California (originally by Led Zeppelin)
Sean Rowe – Soldier’s Song (originally by Lucinda Williams)
Thea Gilmore – ever Fallen in Love (originally by the Buzzcocks)
Bobby McFerrin – Opportunity (originally by Joan Armatrading)
Scala and Kolacny Brothers – Nothing Else Matters (originally by Metallica)
Jeff Beck – Somewhere over the Rainbow (originally by Judy Garland)
Fiona Apple – I Want You (originally by Elvis Costello)
A-list original versions:
Koko Taylor – I’m A Woman (originally Muddy Waters – unfortunately zedded tinny!)
Eddie Reader – Don’t Be Cruel (originally Elvis Presley)
The Stranglers – Walk On By (originally by Dionne Warwick)
Everything But the Girl – Tougher Than the Rest (originally by Springsteen)
Black Box Recorder – Seasons in the Sun (originally Terry Jacks)
Bat For Lashes – I’m On Fire (originally Springsteen)
Daniel Cavanagh – Running Up that Hill (originally Kate Bush)
Coves – Wicked Games (originally Chris Isaak)
Manic Street Preachers – Umbrella (originally Rihanna)
Cowboy Junkies – Thunder Road (yes another Springsteen)
Scarce – Angel from Montgomery (originally John Prine)
All About Eve – Witches Promise (originally Jethro Tull)
Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing At All (originally Keith Whitley)
Celine Dion and Anastacia – You Shook Me All Night Long (originally AC/DC)
Guru’s wildcard pick:
The Lounge Kittens - Duality (originally by Slipknot)
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Share: cover versions by the opposite sex. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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