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Cover Battle – “Love is a Battlefield” September 12, 2014

 

Classically trained as an opera singer, Pat Benatar broke out into superstardom during the 1980’s and became a bona fide badass rock goddess. At the age of 61 she and her collaborator, guitarist, husband Neil Geraldo are still touring and going strong.

 

Her song, “Love is a Battlefield” plays as a kind of empowerment anthem. This theme is actualized in the official video where Benatar (as a runaway) becomes … a dancehall girl (??) and eventually leads her fellow coworkers in a dance/rebellion/walkout against their sleazy controlling boss. I mean, this guy even has a gold tooth. And I think it’s chipped!

 

This song doesn’t seem to be a popular one for covers. Sure, there are random regular people doing various versions all over Youtube but I couldn’t find any name artists that have done one. However, I was inspired to choose this song from a commercial for an upcoming Lifetime movie, Deliverance Creek. I was only half listening to it, then I caught the words and realized what song they were doing. I listened more intently and decided to track it down. And here we are.

 

Holly Knight’s Story of O, featuring Sara Skinner is the group that performed the Deliverance Creek cover. It’s very dark and creepy. It brings an element to the song that is totally fresh, yet haunted. And twisted. And decayed. I love this reinterpretation. And I may actually watch Deliverance Creek, too. Incidentally, Holly Knight is one of the original writers (along with Mike Chapman) of “Love is a Battlefield”.

 

There’s a version done by Canadian artist Jann Arden that I’m not such a fan of. I really liked Jann’s 1994 album, Living Under June, so I was looking forward to hearing what she did with this. She takes it much slower than the original, but not as a slow as Story of O. I think, maybe this midway tempo just beiges it out and makes it the aural equivalent of decorator neutral. It’s blah, meh and uninspiring.

 

The last one I have for you today is not actually considered a cover. It’s billed as a “literal version” where the words comment on and make fun of the imagery of the actual video. The few I’ve seen have been very funny and enjoyable. This one is as well.


 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Best of My Love” (The Emotions) August 29, 2014

 

The original recording of “Best of My Love” was released by The Emotions, (If you clink the link, turn your sound down first. Trust me on this) in 1977. It’s a great example of 70’s soul music: well-crafted, great harmonies, easy to dance to. Just an all-around joy fest that typifies the era, yet never gets old.

 

Christina Milian performs a bit of the song in the John Travolta movie, Be Cool. It stays true to the tempo of the original, but it’s very screechy. And the performance is just a trio of pop tarts gyrating annoyingly, but I guess that was what was called for in the movie. Honestly not sure if a straight rendition on stage would be any different, since I’m not really familiar with Christina’s work and really have no interest in exploring further.

 

The incomparable Mary J. Blige sings a bit of the song in a fun little holiday season commercial for The Gap, featuring Josh Duhamel and Sarah Jessica Parker. There’s a dash of a funk undertone to it. It’s basically just a snippet, but I would be interested in hearing a full version if she ever releases one. It’s still celebratory but doesn’t give me as much of a ‘get down and party’ feeling as the three-part harmony of The Emotions.

 

I was unable to find a video anywhere for the version done by Sheena Easton, in 2001, but I did find audio on Grooveshark. You can listen to it here. The pace is sped up and “popified”. It kind of sounds like a fairly forgettable karaoke run, albeit with pretty good production values. I’m not really impressed.

 

Another version I couldn’t seem to track down a video for was done by Phoebe Snow. There is an audio, here, at Who Sampled. This one is funked up somewhat, like the Mary J. version above. The extra instrumentation sounds a little distracting to me though. It’s juuuust on the verge of being a “… and the kitchen sink” version. You know – let’s throw everything in there. It’s kind of busy.

 

The live performance clip by En Vogue is highly energetic and brings you back to the spirit of the original. Unfortunately it’s entirely too short. Would loved to have been able to find something more complete.


 

   

   

 

WTF am I watching? August 27, 2014

Filed under: Found Objects,WTF — jerzygirl45 @ 4:43 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Black” August 15, 2014

 

The song “Black” by Pearl Jam is beautiful. It’s well-written and emotive. It’s relatable to anyone who’s lost at love a time or two. It starts off so simply and builds to almost operatic heights of intensity and heartbreak.

 

As good as the studio version is, the MTV Unplugged performance of the song is incredible. Again, it starts simply, and you melt into it. Soon (and subtly), Eddie and the band turn it up – and I’m just mesmerized. Eddie Vedder has a kind of Jim Morrison or Joe Cocker-like intensity when he really gets rolling. It’s like seeing a musical possession: it’s thrilling and frightening, wild yet controlled, otherworldly yet totally grounded. Eddie’s sitting down the entire time but you’re almost holding your breath expecting him to jump up and get the holy ghost. It’s like he’s a whirling dervish who’s been nailed to the stool.

 

And so what if you might not be able to distinctly make out every single word when Vedder sings it? He puts himself completely into the song – heart, soul, blood, sweat, spit, spleen … 127%. (That might just be a rough estimate).

 

The cover by Smith & Meyers of the group Shinedown is fine. It’s fairly respectable; it’s enunciated quite well. It’s … okay. It just doesn’t have the same intense and passionate wallop of the Pearl Jam version.

 

And I’m not really feeling the live cover by Aaron Lewis of Staind, either. It seems very draggy and sad, much more than it needs to be. It’s kind of blah. Maybe anything less than Vedder on this song just sounds whiny and emo to me.

 

Baseball player Bronson Arroyo tackled the song on his debut album of cover songs, Covering the Bases (get it? a ballplayer doing cover songs? huh, huh?). Honestly, it’s not as bad as I thought it might be. Still not Vedder but I think it might kill on karaoke night at some bar.


 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Down With the Sickness” August 8, 2014

 

 

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, ‘cuz I’m tired. ;-)

 

I am by no means what you’d call a “metal head” but I do like a good head banger, and “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed definitely qualifies.

 

I don’t even recall how I came upon the song. It could have been while looking for other cover battle stuff or through a twitter or Facebook link, but anyway, I love this song. I was even thinking that the opening riffs would be a cool/creepy/wtf? ringtone for a cell phone. (I’m weird like that). The guitar riffs are so sharp they almost sound like drums. I’ve never heard anything like that; I love it. You should check out some of Disturbed’s other efforts.

 

The only other version out there is done by the comedy entertainer known as Richard Cheese (dick cheese, get it? Gross and nasty, sure but the throwback feel is sorta cheesy too, so I can see the humor. I’m twisted like that) The style is just so far afield from the original it makes me chuckle. It’s a big band, swing type of sound and makes the song seem like one of the old American standards. He gives it a full orchestra treatment and some very smooth, Michael Buble type vocals. He’s totally into it. It’s hysterical. And well done.

   

   

         

 

Cover Battle – “Rhiannon” August 1, 2014

 

Rock group Fleetwood Mac, led by “white witchSteve Nicks, performs the song “Rhiannon”. (The song was actually inspired by the legend of a Welsh witch.) I think their recording is just perfect – the music and the lyrical content blend so wonderfully with the uniqueness of Stevie’s voice. There is not a bad thing that I can say about this song. I never get tired of listening to it.

 

I was very surprised to find a rendition done by country singer Waylon Jennings. Apparently he was a huge fan of Stevie’s, and even asked her to write a song for him and his wife and singing partner, Jessi Colter. Unfortunately, for them, by the time the song was ready the relationship was over, but fortunately for Mac fans Stevie recorded the resulting song, “Leather and Lace“, herself. (The song just so happens to be the subject of an earlier Cover Battle)

 

I’m so used to the original that this sounds really odd to me. Stevie’s recording is just so haunting, magical and mystical that I just can’t find that this version does the composition much justice at all.

 

Japanese artists Superfly perform a kick-ass version. The guitar work is really sharp. The vocalist, Shiho Ochi has a harder edge to her voice while still being very melodic. It calls to my mind the laidback punk cool of Debbie Harry coupled with the power of Pat Benatar. For some reason, though, the video only showcases the guitarist.

 

Redd Kross did a very, very, very low-tech recording of the song. I think they may have done it standing around a cassette tape machine. It has that kind of a throwback sound to it, like they were doing a homemade mix tape. It’s different. They do it as a straight up rock song. At the end, they go all out, just jamming and having fun. Their obvious enthusiasm for the material kind of made me smile. ;-)

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Seven Nation Army” July 18, 2014

 

Both the video and the insistent pounding rhythm for “Seven Nation Army“, by The White Stripes, are striking, hypnotic and kind of trippy. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to discover all the nuances. and track down the meaning behind the lyrics, and the story behind the metaphors. The video is almost messianic and the song itself is anthemic. But beyond that, it’s just a fabulous rock song. I found myself hitting repeat many times.

 

On my first listen I didn’t feel that lead singer Jack White was that great of a vocalist. I thought it would get in the way of me really getting into the song, but after several replays the roughness fits for me. I’ve actually heard a couple of things he’s done with other artists, and I’ve been impressed and intrigued by him. In the documentary “It Might Get Loud” we can see Jack jamming on the song with legends Jimmy Page and The Edge, and it’s a thrilling goose-bump moment.

 

The first time I actually heard this song was from a live performance, in Montrieux, by Living Colour. They are most definitely at the top of my list of phenomenal musical acts. They’ve been in the game for years, and they’re still going stronger than ever. The guitar work and drumming on this is so fierce. They put their own spin on it by taking a great song and making it even more badass than the original. I’m so used to hearing the band with Corey Glover doing lead, but I like the gruff rawness of Vernon Reid.

 

New artist Zella Day does this in a totally different way than anyone else. Her version is backed with a simple guitar and sounds much sweeter than the two covers noted above. Even though hers is less throbby and percussive it still stays with you. It’s not unsettling; it’s just haunting and a plays to a mystery within the song. So far we have 3 renditions I wouldn’t mind listening to multiple times.

 

I have another live performance for you, this time from Argentina. It’s done by the group The Pretty Reckless, fronted by actress Taylor Momsen. She played Cindy Lou Who in the Jim Carrey Grinch movie. (Yeah, that makes me feel old, too). Their version brings it back to the hard rocking, and wailing guitar feel. This one, I think, is even more punk-like. (If I know anything about punk. Which I probably really don’t, but whatever). However, I don’t find that they keep the mystery of the song, and with this version I wouldn’t really be compelled to explore the meaning behind it. It’s done really, really well, though, and I wouldn’t mind hearing it again if I want a real head banging, hard driving good time.

 

 

A remix was done, by The Glitch Mob, for the movie G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation. I’m not really a fan of remixes in general because they tend to draw you in with a familiar rhythm and then just beat it into your ears with an aural crowbar until you actually get sick of hearing the original song that drew you in, in the first place. I don’t know the technical term but whatever is on top of the vocals – (reverb, distortion, techno, whatever) is annoying and grating. It’s over powering. It might be great for the G.I. Joe movie or a tie-in video game, but goodness I couldn’t wait for this to be done.

 

A favorite of singer Kelly Clarkson, the song pops up in her live shows quite often. She rocks out to this very well. The specialness is in the song itself, but she doesn’t really add anything. Other than a good live performance.

 

I don’t really think Audioslave adds anything more to this either. The audience seems to enjoy it, but it didn’t do it for me. Just a lot of atonal screaming.

 

X-Factor contestant Marcus Collins released this as his first single, and I’m just like … NO! The video is just horrible and he turns the song into some light fluffy joke devoid of anything worthy of being listened to. It’s ridiculous. He should have just stayed in his lane. Or better yet, just stayed home and not even attempted it. Bad Marcus. Bad, bad Marcus. Now go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve. And keep your mouth closed.

 

I’m not really sure how I feel about what The Oak Ridge Boys did with this. As part of an interview for Sirius XM radio they did this in studio, vocally recreating the familiar guitar riff during the song’s intro, as well as in other spots. It’s dramatic and well-harmonized, but … maybe a little melodramatic with a dash of kitsch? It’s … odd.

   

   

 

Cover Battle Addendum July 11, 2014

Filed under: cover battles,Found Objects,Music — jerzygirl45 @ 7:51 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

 

… and speaking of Bob Dylan songs, I even have this little addendum video.

 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Positively 4th Street”

 

See what I do for you guys? What I’m willing to subject my ears to?
Dylan – Bob Dylan!!

 

I’ve never really been able to get past the vocals to actually listen intently to a Bob Dylan song, but I have to say I surprised myself by really getting into his song “Positively 4th Street“. The song’s about being betrayed and, as one commenter put it on YouTube, it’s ‘a classy and poetic Fuck You’ song. And they’re right – the lyrics are just perfect and biting, yet the melody of the song easily grabs you, and belies the harshness of the song’s true intent.

 

Now here’s the kicker – the version I really got into wasn’t actually Dylan! In searching YouTube people can title the vids however they want. I found one, clicked on it and listened. It sounded like Dylan to me, only slightly more understandable. It was only after playing it that I read the description. It was actually a version from a Post Productions tribute album that I got into. Apparently it’s really hard to track down a (good?) Dylan version. I found the one above and I was like “Yeah, okay, there’s the voice; that’s why I don’t listen to Dylan”

 

The first time I heard any of the song was a bit of it done by Katey Sagal on “Mary“. Those lyrics always stayed with me. Periodically I would think about but never look for it. Finally I googled that little snippet and found out what the song was. I really wish I could find a video or even just an audio clip of her doing the entire song. But, for now, this will have to do. She sounds beautiful.

 

The cover that Dylan, himself, touts as his favorite was done by Johnny Rivers. I’m a fan of Rivers’ work. It has that Johnny Rivers sound yet it also sounds very folky, and even more melodic and matter of fact than my favorite version from Post Production. Not sure if I’m totally on board for this one, sad to say.

 

The Byrds do it slightly more up-tempo, yet they sound very Dylanesque. But not so Dylanesque that it makes my ears bleed. This also seems to be the shortest version of the song that I’ve found. They do it live and although not done angrily, somehow, I can hear the bitterness more clearly in this than in any other one that I’ve found. Or maybe that’s just a product of listening to so many versions in a short span of time.

 

You can hear The Beatles doing some of the song during a video of their “Let It Be” Sessions (at the 0:50 mark). An official version was never released though. This is another one I would have loved to hear a full recording of.

 

Jerry Garcia, lead singer of The Grateful Dead, and creator of The Jerry Garcia Band, is another example of a musical legend that I’m just not into. His rendition with Merl Saunders grabs me from the first note. It sounds bluesy and the guitar is so masterful. Jerry’s vocal is a bit wistful and just slightly sad. I really enjoyed this one a lot.

 

Lucinda Williams opens this with more of a country-sounding vibe. It’s not twangy, thank goodness. Though I’m not a fan of her voice, I do like the way it serves to bring out and illustrate the hurt feelings behind the song.

 

The punk group X sounds a bit taunting in their performance of the tune and they take it back to that “Fuck You” place with their hard guitars and shouty … not so melodic vocals. They don’t seem to have any regard for a harmonious, engaging way, and they succeed on that point. But you still want to listen.

 

Bryan Ferry keeps it very straightforward and heartfelt. The piano is a nice departure from the omnipresent guitar-focused versions out there. It gives it more of a simple, plainspoken honesty.

 

English group Simply Red brings in more orchestration on this classic. The lead singer Mick Hucknall kind of sounds like Dylan, a bit, here. Just not as eardrum-destroying.

 

Unfortunately, for this next cover, I was only able to find a Grooveshark audio clip. But it’s really good. Violent Femmes brings the rock and the punk and the rockabilly excitement to this song and turn it into, as they say, “a catchy little ditty”. It’s a bit raucous but fun and cool. It’s also so danceable that you might not even pay attention to the lyrics on the first few listens. I do like it very much, though.

 


 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Addicted to Love” July 4, 2014

 

I think the original recording of “Addicted to Love” is just as fantastic today as it was when it first came out. Performed by Brit Robert Palmer, it has a hard driving beat that’s infectious and hypnotic. The video was especially striking – the gentlemanly dashing, cool and suited Mr. Palmer with his vacant-eyed, zombie model back-up band. Endlessly listenable.

 

I know Florence + The Machine are really popular, but I’m not at all familiar with their work. I think I saw them once on Saturday Night Live and they just didn’t really do anything for me. Their take on the song is totally different from Palmer’s. I actually like the cool acapella way the recording opens. It has a slight ethereal, otherworldly sound to it. Once the music comes in, and the song goes on I’m less enamored of it. By the end, I’m like “Yeah, whatever”.

 

When the Skyler Grey version starts off, it reminds me a lot of Florence + The Machine. Even though this opening doesn’t grab me quite as much as Flo and the boys, Skyler maintains that ghostly, wispy-voiced sound most of the way through, which I appreciate.

 

74 year old Tina Turner is, without a doubt, a musical legend. (Is legend even good enough to describe the talent, strength and endurance of this woman? And those legs?! Good lord!) She sounds fantastic. She’s always had a unique sounding voice that cannot be duplicated. This video of her live show illustrates that she has not lost a step. Just an incredible performance and totally exhilarating to watch.

 

Warning: This next cover is a steaming pile of crap. But let me tell you how I really feel. By glancing at their wiki page, it seems like Eagles of Death Metal may have been going for something slightly… humorous??? In my estimation they missed the mark. By several solar systems and galaxies.

 

Remember what I just said about steaming pile of crap? I was wrong. The Eagles of Death Metal version is just crap. This one by Ciccone Youth is the real steaming pile. It features Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, another group I don’t listen to, so maybe this is a good sound, for them, actually. I don’t know. But it’s not good for me. At all.

   

   

 

 
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