Once again, Colette, provides some great stuff…this time on the topic of “Covers”, i.e., songs of one artist sung by another. I’ve added a bit at the end about one of my favorite artists, but the rest is courtesy of Colette:
When a performer “covers” a song made famous by other performers, the results can be an awkward miss-fit and regrettable mish-mash. But covers you didn’t expect, or even imagine could make sense, can also be sublime, bracing and fresh.
A great singer can suffuse a beloved tune they didn’t originate with something different and unique — even if it’s from a genre not usually associated with them. An interpretation that does not slavishly copy the original, but feels equally valid, can reveal to you new facets of the singer and the song.
Here are some current treasures I’ve found:
There are so many great versions of the “Shoop Shoop Song” sung originally by Betty Everett. But none is more ecstatic, more transcendent than the young Aretha’s vivacious cover for the 1960s TV show “Shindig.” Her voice is so flexible, her soulfulness so potent, and her joy off the map. Note that her backup singers are digging it too, particularly the fantastic Darlene Love who gives Aretha a “you-go-girl” wave in mid-song:
One of my favorite should-be-better-known musicians, Laura Love, did this unexpectedly different and compelling version of a tune by her fellow Seattle-ite, Kurt Cobain. Her homage to Cobain features Laura’s unique “Afro-Celtic” (her description) vocals and driving bass guitar, as she remakes the song into a shivery and urgent cry from the heart:
Come as You Are – Laura Love
The “boy group” phenomenon of the 1990s largely passed me by. But lately I’ve been finding some marvelous clips in that genre, with the voices meshing and harmonies shimmering. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Backstreet Boys would cover the Beach Boys (who one might say invented the harmonic palette for later boy groups) . But that they do it with suprising flair in this charity concert:
When I Grow Up to Be a Man — Backstreet Boys
Chuck Berry and Al Green are a generation apart, and their signature sounds are miles apart. But when Al sang ” Sweet Little Sixteen” on a Soul Train episode in the 1970s, he laid his own claim to Berry’s wily jail-bait tune. Al’s slow-cooking, seductive treatment with his expert band makes the song so much more sensuous. The yellow bell-bottoms are turn on too, and as for the arm in the sling….well, we all know the Right Rev wouldn’t be laid low by a little problem like that:
Sweet Little Sixteen
This is actually Al’s own remake of “Sweet Little Sixteen,” far more free-hand than most of these covers. He kept the title, the main phrase, the idea, but otherwise completely transformed it into something Green.
Music Maven ETA: Interestingly, The Beatles covered Sweet Little Sixteen, as well…giving it a definite Beatles’ flavor.
SLS, The Beatles….with Johnny B. Goode thrown in for good measure.
My first introduction to the great Alison Krauss and her fine band Union Station was this cover. The original was the first big single of one of the first inter-racial British pop groups, The Foundations. Krauss slows it down, gives it an acoustic arrangement with a bluegrass tinge, and sings it like an angel:
Dark, caustically funny and right on the money about the direction the world is heading in, this Leonard Cohen anthem is raspily unforgettable when its author sings it. What the ever-fabulous Rufus Wainwright adds in: his more plushy tenor voice, a waltzy tempo and a more operatic sense of absurdity. This is from “I’m Your Man,” the Leonard Cohen documentary that includes a tribute concert:
Everybody Knows — Rufus Wainwright
Tracy Chapman started out in coffee houses, wrote sensitive, topical songs sung in her trademark vibrato. I would not have guessed what a great interpreter of Get Up, Stand Up, which she sings in concert. Couldn’t find a decent clip of that, so here’s another Chapman take on Marley at a fest in his honor:‘s rasta-reggae tunes she’d be. My favorite is her rendition of ‘s
Three Little Birds – Tracey Chapman
Thanks, Colette, for a great topic….keep ’em comin’.
Music Maven ETA2 — While not Tracey Chapman, here’s a pretty “hawt” Get Up, Stand Up cover by Ben Harper:
The burning question that I have concerning “covers” is this — Can an artist survive and thrive today by limiting their catalog to covers? While many artists of the past were never questioned concerning original material, it seems to be a defining characteristic of “real” music, today. Is original material required today, to be considered successful?
Marc Broussard’s S.O.S. (Save Our Soul) CD comes out this week. Ten covers and one original.
- You Met Your Match (Stevie Wonder)
- If I Could Build My Whole World Around You (Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell)
- Harry Hippie (Bobby Womack)
- Let The Music Get Down In Your Soul (Rance Allen)
- I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (Blood, Sweat & Tears)
- Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) (Marvin Gaye)
- Love and Happiness (Al Green)
- I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding)
- Respect Yourself (The Staples Singers)
- Yes We Can, Can (Allen Toussaint)
- Come In From The Cold (Marc Broussard)
Here is a preview of this much anticipated CD…Marc and Toby Lightman “covering” If I Could Build My Whole World Around You:
Notice in the YouTube credits that Marc sells CDs of his performances…”What a novel concept?”, she says sarcastically. Leave it to the Cajuns to think of innovative ways to make money and spread the proverbial “word”. GEAUX Marc!