… but I digress

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Remember me? April 2, 2015

 

I haven’t forgotten about the blog.

 

I know I haven’t done anything original on here, in, like … forever. I barely reblog articles, either.  And Cover Battles – I really let those slide.  It’s like, well – the first Friday I didn’t do a battle I felt bad, but then the more I didn’t do one, the easier it got to not do it.  My gosh, I haven’t even ranted!

 


I don’t know, guys. I’m sure I’ll come back to doing stuff here.  Don’t know when, but it’ll happen.  It’s not that I’m off having exciting adventures or anything. It’s just that right now, I’m not really feeling it.


I even toyed with the idea of doing NaPoWriMo again. But I don’t wanna think that hard.

 


During the meanwhile you can still look at the stuff I did before and one day there just might be … something new.

 

 

SNAP CRACKLE POP

 

 

 

Cover Battle – “Kiss” May 9, 2014

 

It seems that quite a few people have done covers of “Kiss” but they’re really really hard to find posted online. A lot of artists have their stuff all over YouTube, but apparently Prince is having none of it. So, all I can do is give you the few that I found and include a list of other ones I wanted to include but couldn’t because I’m not buying an album from everybody who’s ever covered this song, then uploading it. Just be warned: whatever’s in this battle may be taken down from YouTube at any moment.

 

I could only find one YouTube vid with the original recording, but the audio is muted. It’s a copyright thing, so you can enjoy the silence or check out the official video that I managed to find on slack-time, but couldn’t embed in WordPress.

 

So, Maroon 5. What. The. Freakin’. Hell?!? They took the song in a completely different direction. It’s like a honky tonk, roadhouse version. It’s jarring and off putting. Then when they slow it down (around 2:21) it’s like some bizarre, drunken karaoke bullshit. And the actual singing part only takes up about 4 minutes of the recording. The rest is just big long grandstanding showy flourishes that make you forget what song you started off listening to. Adam, Adam – how could you? Maybe if the flourish was at the tail end of something else I would be okay with it, but after the way they butchered the beginning, I don’t feel the need to give them credit for anything.

 

Now we have Mr. Sexy Sexy – Tom Jones. Live. This cover is masterfully good. It fits with Tom’s sexy soul swing (and the swing in those hips! Yes, I know the video is almost 25 years old. And I don’t care.) Lively and energetic, I would definitely put this on a par with the original. I’ve also thrown in the official video from the studio version, done with The Art of Noise.

 

And now we’re back to What. The. Freakin’. Hell?!? From Glee, we have Matthew Morrison and Gwyneth Paltrow. Ugh. It’s so high-pitched I’m surprised there wasn’t a line of dogs outside my window after playing this. It’s just all-around bad. And crappy. And annoying.

 

I was able to get a video from Senior Coconut and his Orchestra. It’s kind of sexy, in its own way. It’s interesting and flirty, which is what it’s supposed to be. I’m cool with this.

 

There were three other versions I was interested in listing but failed to find: one from Richard Thompson, who has a great knack for taking a song and digging beneath the top layer, to the artistry at the heart of it; one by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, from the soundtrack of the movie Happy Feet; and one from an Australian comedy group called Scared Weird Little Guys. I kid you not. There are some others listed here.

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “I Believe in Love” January 31, 2014

 

The first time I heard “I Believe in Love” was in the movie A Star is Born. Or, I should say, the remake. One of the many remakes of this story. The only version I’ve seen is the 1976 one with Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. It may be derided for the fashion, the performances, whatever, but I like the movie. (That may change if I ever see the version considered to be the best, with James Mason and Judy Garland, or at least the original)

 

I also loved, loved, loved the soundtrack. I swear I wore that vinyl out, singing those songs at the top of my lungs. This song comes from when Barbra’s character is thrust into the spotlight and she’s feeling her power on a grand scale. She’s enjoying the audience, the music, the whole experience. It’s kinda funky, slightly disco-esque, but it’s BARBRA STREISAND, for chrissakes!!!

 

It was years later that I realized this was actually a song by one of my faves, Kenny Loggins. Barbra’s version is actually the original, but Kenny finally sang his composition on his first solo album, Celebrate Me Home (the title tune is also a fantastic song in its own right), the year after her.

 

Sometimes when you hear a song and love it, then you find it done by the writer and end up thinking of it as inferior. So not the case here. I enjoy this just as much as Barbra’s take. His performance is lively, energetic and joyful.

   

   

 

Covers, No Battle (Pt 6) December 25, 2013

 

And now, we have the final holiday tidbit. I hope that you guys have had fun watching these. To see all the other entries just check the links at the end on the post.

 

HEAT MISER/SNOW MISER

 

When I was a kid I used to love all those Rankin and Bass animated and stop-motion Christmas specials. There’s one called The Year Without A Santa Claus. The highlight was a duo of songs performed by two brothers, Heat Miser and Snow Miser. Frankly I think Snow Miser’s song has much more flare, but they’re still both quite fun.

 

Now, apparently in 2006 someone had the “bright” idea to do a live-action special. Why? I have no clue. I don’t remember hearing about it, didn’t see it, and don’t think I want to. This video of the brothers’ song is more than enough to dissuade me from ever seeking it out.

   

   

   

   
   

Please Come Home For Christmas (Pt 1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Pt 2)

The Little Drummer Boy (Pt 3)

Happy Xmas (War is Over) (Pt 4)

All I Want For Christmas is You (Pt 5)

   
   

 

Covers, No Battle (Pt 5) December 24, 2013

 

I had a lot of fun watching videos for part 5. To see the earlier entries you can check out the bottom on this post.

 

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

 

Mariah Carey originally wrote and recorded this in 1994 and since then it’s become a go-to classic. In 2012 she teamed up with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots (on classroom instruments!), and a few little kiddies to do another one. It is soooo much fun to hear and see them do it. Everybody’s having a blast.

 

My Chemical Romance’s version starts off sweet and slow then brings out the spikiness of a good rousing modern rock/punk song. It’s rowdy and rough and loud and discordant, in parts. Definitely a non-traditional take on it, but I quite like it. The energy is good and surprisingly it makes me feel very holly-jolly.

 

Another version that makes me all happy and festive is from the movie “Love, Actually“. It’s sung by young actress Olivia Olson, and she does a stellar job. If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out.

   

   

   
   

Please Come Home For Christmas (Pt 1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Pt 2)

The Little Drummer Boy (Pt 3)

Happu Xmas (War is Over) (Pt 4)

   
   

 

Covers, No Battle (Pt 4) December 23, 2013

 

I bring you … part 4! Links for the prior posts are under the video

 

HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER)

 

Christina Perri has a very happy, sweet sounding voice which brings an even greater element of hopefulness to the sentiment of John’s song. The video is quite pleasing and made me smile.

 

The John Lennon collaboration with Yoko Ono original is always going to be the standard for this. It’s not just your typical glad wishes, good tidings holiday song. The official video seems like a contradiction – a hopeful, celebratory song of the best possible thing for humanity, no more war. The images in the video show multiple scenes of places and people in dangerous conflict, people with injuries due to those conflicts. It gets you to, hopefully, think about the damage that’s caused when all we really should do is love each other more. I swear John & Yoko should have a Nobel Peace prize for this.

   

   
   

Please Come Home For Christmas (Pt 1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Pt 2)

The Little Drummer Boy (Pt 3)

   
   

 

Covers, No Battle (Pt 3) December 22, 2013

 

Time for part 3 of my holiday cover samplings. For links to the earlier entries you can check out the bottom on this post.

 

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY

 

Really good a cappela singing kinda makes me melt, and the Pentatonix version of this song is no exception. You can tell that, individually, their voices are strong, but together they’re just amazing. The way the harmonies dive, and swoop and swirl around is like a vocal ballet. It’s beautiful to hear.

 

Next we have one of the most unlikely duos you could think of: Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I have no idea who’s idea it was to put these two together, but it worked out brilliantly. With Bing crooning about the drummer boy and then he and David doing a duet on “Peace on Earth” it’s a magical moment in musical history.

 

Speaking of unlikely, I now bring you Christopher Lee. Yes – LOTR’s Saruman (and hundreds of other films) Christopher Lee. My first response was WTF?! Then I listened to it, and like Mr. Lee, himself this one is truly badass.

   

   
   

Please Come Home For Christmas (Pt 1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Pt 2)

   
   

 

Covers, No Battle (Pt 2) December 21, 2013

 

Here’s part 2 of my little mini-series – a cover for each day until Christmas. To see part 1, check the link after the videos. Enjoy

 

 

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

 

For this holiday entry we have Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera definitely amp up the sexy playfulness of this classic. I knew Cee Lo has great musicianship but this was unexpected. Christina has such a … booming over the top style of singing that she could easily overpower a lesser partner, but Cee Lo matches her very very well.

 

For the Lady GagaJoseph Gordon-Levitt version they do a nice role reversal. Usually it’s the male singer imploring his female partner to stay, but this time it’s Gaga trying to entice Joseph. This number is from Gaga’s recent holiday special with The Muppets. (Kermit has a nice little bit with JGL before the song).

 

Here’s a nice older duet version featuring the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan. It’s not overly produced and the record sounds a bit tinny, in accordance with the production tools available at the time (1949) but it’s enjoyable, comforting and the harmonies are nice.

   

   
   

Please Come Home For Christmas (Pt 1)

   
   

 

Cover Battle – “Can’t Find My Way Home” October 11, 2013

 

I have the original band, Blind Faith, performing “Can’t Find My Way Home“, in a live outdoor concert performance. What’s really striking to me is how fantastic it sounds, with none of the glitches or things that you sometimes get with a live performance. No strained vocals or microphone issues, or that “it just sounds better on the studio version” feeling. When I think of this song, this is the version I would refer to most often.

 

The studio version doesn’t sound as good or interesting, to me, as the live performance. I don’t particularly care for the high pitched vocals in the beginning. It actually doesn’t draw me in until almost the end. The guitar, though, is solid. Very mellow and wistful, and I like that.

 

I love the sparseness of the next video. It’s just the writer, Steve Winwood, his guitar and a couple of mikes. There’s even a snap from the roaring fire in the background. Nothing else needed.

 

The live version from Corey Glover and Daniella Cotton is really engaging. It starts of slow, with only Daniella’s guitar, Corey jumps in and then the whole band kicks it up a few notches. It’s a great mix of artists rocking it out.

 

I think the music takes a backseat to the vocals in the studio version done by Joe Cocker. Right from the opening riffs it sounds more rushed and up-tempo, and just serviceable. It’s not horrible, but it doesn’t seem to be as integral as it is in other guitar-focused versions.

 

Now from the video of Joe’s live version you can see it’s a totally different story. The tempo is certainly not as … peppy as the studio version. It’s much easier to get into and appreciate the song and, of course, Joe’s fantastic growl and performance.

 

Another example of a great live performance is the video featuring Steve Winwood (again) and Eric Clapton. It just cements a realization that I got when I saw the next video.

 

When I was listening to the Warren Haynes version featuring Sheryl Crow this thought just came to me: This song can only be really, truly appreciated live. A live performance seems to bring out the absolute best of the song, whether it be the improvisational aspect for the artist or just the fact that you don’t have to conform to a specific radio friendly length for your “product”. I just believe that having it done live showcases the nuances of the work better than any studio recording. At least for this song.

 

Alison Krauss‘ style of singing this also serves the song very well. She has such a lovely voice and the playing is so sweet and heartfelt, without being precious or wimpy. She starts off very delicate-sounding but quickly reveals the strength and resolve in her vocals.

 

I was such a big Styx fan back in the day. I haven’t really listened to them in ages, so when I saw they had a version, I thought it would be a big grand thing. But thankfully they kept the integrity of the song and didn’t overdo it with a big production and a raucous spectacle of sound. I think they did a really nice job with it.

 

Bonnie Raitt and Lowell George and John Hammond noodling around in the studio with other musicians sounds (and is) very raw and in the moment. Comrades and road buddies just riffing and going wherever the mood takes them. I love the bluesy and drawling guitars (can guitars drawl?) sound. It’s exceptionally mellow. And it’s beautiful and kind of amazing.

 

Sneaker Pimps. Um, what now? It starts with sci-fi movie sounds of aliens invading the planet. It’s trippy and really really bizarre. It also makes me think this is what it’s like to be on drugs and makes me glad I’ve never been. That was my initial impression. As the song continues and I kind of take it as its own thing, and not as a cover of a song I’ve just listened to multiple versions of, I’m actually getting into it more. It kind of reminds me of something I might hear from Medeski, Martin and Wood (If you haven’t listened to them you need to check out my playlist for their CD Shackman).

 

I like Alana Davis‘ take on this a lot. She’s got a nice soulfulness and honesty to her voice. Her version has more instrumentation, or arrangement to it, but I don’t mind.

   

I don’t find anything remarkable, good or even that interesting about the Yvonne Elliman, Mama Lion, or Black Label Society versions. Ok, maybe the Black Label guitar solo sounds a little cool. The Johnny Rivers version is fine, but that’s about it. And I really like Johnny Rivers!

   
   

   

 

Cover Battle: “With a Little Help From My Friends” May 17, 2013

 

A Beatles feel good song from the classic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s also one of the few songs that Ringo Starr, drummer, sang lead on.

 

I think this is one of those instances where a cover outshines the original. The definitive version of this has got to be Joe Cocker’s. The man throws himself into all of his music. Almost literally, with bodily twists and turns that would make a contortionist positively green with envy. His style has even been celebrated/parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live.

 

I’ve put up two Joe Cocker videos: one from back in the day, in black and white, and one from a few years ago. Both are live because, while studio versions are nice and neat, live can bring about in-the-moment improvisational magic. Some artists are extraordinary live and need to be seen that way, “imperfections” and all. I think that’s the best way to enjoy Joe Cocker’s performance. With these two live versions, I think, you can see that Joe hasn’t really lost any of the intensity that everybody loves about him. And as a bonus the more recent track has him being backed up by Phil Collins on drums and Brian May on guitar.

 

Bon Jovi has a cover, also live. I like it. A lot. And let’s face it – Bon Jovi, sleeveless, with that hair, in a tight pair of jeans is some pretty nice eye candy. Yes, I’m totally objectifying the man and I’m okay with that.

 

What I’m not really okay with is the last one. Frankly I can’t get through the Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 cover. It makes me feel like I’m trapped in The Twilight Zone on an endless elevator ride. Make it stahhhhhhhhhhhhhp, please! Actually it sort of reminds me of the 50’s and 60’s when record companies would take that radical “colored” music and water it down with argyle sweaters and penny loafers for all the white kids and made it super neato cool. And safe. A bit extreme, but that’s the first thing that came to mind.

 

 


 

   

   

 

 
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