the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Recycled art, part 1

The Remake. It's a concept that is all too familiar to both the movie and music industries, which is kind of sad when you take into account the fact that these fields are both supposedly populated with creative people.

In my opinion, the majority of remakes, musical or cinematic, are the result of someone takin' the easy way out. Rather than be bold and try a new concept, which is a staple of creativity but not so valued by the money-makin' arm of the entertainment industry, a familiar song or plotline that has already proven itself to be popular with consumers is hoisted out of mothballs, whored up with some new lipstick, and sold to us all over again. But I can't totally blame it on the business, either; a lot of consumers would rather keep payin' good money to have the familiar recycled for their amusement, over and over and over and over...maybe it's just easier that way, instead of bein' forced to form new opinions all the time. Oh, no! How do I know if I like this or not? It's NEW!

However, all that grumpiness aside, sometimes a cover song or a movie remake comes along that not only makes me embrace the remake, but nearly forget the original. With music, I feel like, if you're gonna cover a song, especially one that's already been a hit for someone else, you should do something different with it. Otherwise, if you copy the original note for note, nuance for nuance, you might as well be in a cover band that plays Holiday Inn lounges. Some of my favorite cover tunes include:

  • Fell in Love With a Boy - Joss Stone. The song, Fell in Love With a Girl, was written by Jack White and originally recorded by the White Stripes in their stripped-down, brash rock style. Joss Stone took the tune and made it into the musical equivalent of naked bodies writhing on the floor with intense pleasure. What? That's exactly what I picture when I hear her version of the song.
  • All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix. Some years ago, a member of Jim's nightstock crew wandered past him, wondering aloud why Bob Dylan had felt the need to remake Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower. Jim stared at him for a minute, to make certain he was serious, then informed him that the song was written by Dylan and covered by Hendrix. Be that as it may, I'd still rather hear Hendrix sing any day. No offense to Dylan fans, as I am one, I've seen the man in concert, fer chrissakes, but come on. Hendrix rocks it up bigtime, and I like his voice a lot better. Crap, now all the folkies are gonna send me hate mail.
  • I'm a Ram - Big Sugar. I have to admit, I didn't know this was a cover tune when I heard it. It's a heapin' helpin' of heavy bluesy guitar and insistent saxophone. I love this tune. And then I heard the original, written and recorded by Al Green. Hmmm, this is truly a dilemma. I love the Al Green version, too. I shall not make Big Sugar compete with the God of Mojo. I will instead say that I dig their version of the Mojo God's song.
  • Rock and Roll - Detroit. "Jeannie said when she was five years old, nothin' goin' down at all..." This may be my favorite cover song of all time. If you're not stirred to jump to your feet when you hear that rockin' cowbell kick in, then you better check for a pulse. Originally written and recorded by Lou Reed, the song was re-arranged by Mitch Ryder for his band, Detroit, and in the process became the definitive version, a kickin', wailin', screamin', sweatin', smokin', riff-heavy slab of rock thunder. Ryder's primal screams still make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Even Lou Reed himself has famously said (and, indeed, said it to the audience last time I was at one of his concerts), "Mitch Ryder recorded this song how it's really supposed to sound!" I can think of no higher praise.
I'm sure there are more of these, but now I'd like to stop and ask y'all: What are cover tunes/movie remakes you really like or really dislike? Why?

Back with more thoughts on this another time.

43 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Kranki said...

When I was in high school I dated the drummer of Big Sugar. Waaay before the band started, of course. There is my mini claim to fame.

3:35 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Love all the following...

Armored Saint's cover of Saturday Night Special (LS)

WASP's cover of The Real Me (W)

WASP's cover of Mississippi Queen (UH) -- ok, all the other covers WASP did basically

Tank's cover Chain of Fools (AF)

Sammy Hagar's cover of Dock of the Bay (OR)

Edie Brickel's cover of Hard Rain (BD)

and any old blues tune the North Mississippi Allstars boys lay their hands on.

I could go on, but there's probably enough confusion right there in that one comment to last a bit. :)

4:07 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger SierraBella said...

Going way back here:
Robert Palmer's "Every Kind Of People."
Isn't that a remake of an older Motown hit?
I think Cyndi Lauper also did a remake?

4:24 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Kranki - schweeeeet! I don't know how well they're known in the rest of the states, but since we're in Nearly Canada here, I get to see a lot of talent from 'cross the border. Caught Big Sugar as an opening act for some other band in Detroit, and was hooked.

Mr. B - now you made me think of another one I like: Little Caesar's cover of "Chain of Fools"
(two nights to Joan Jett!)
(and what about Joan's covers?)

Sierrabella - didn't Cyndi Lauper cover Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On"? I think I have that on vinyl somewhere here...

4:36 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger SunDenine said...

Anything that Pearl Jam covers...

4:54 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Zombie_Flyboy said...

I liked the GNR cover of Knocking On Heaven's Door.

5:24 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

mentioned this before, I thnk at Vkranki's that the band Small Brown Bike does a brilliant cover of Under Pressure.
I am currently listening to "How Soon is Now" its an entire CD of Smiths songs done by emo/shoegazer bands. 80% of it is great.

8:27 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Spurious Nurse said...

I like the Sundays version of 'Wild Horses'.

Nothing wrong with The Stones or Gram Parsons, I just like the Sunday's version better.

Commence rock

8:39 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger ALRO said...

I have that Joss Stone stuff - and man when she sings - it's sexy...

Let's add to that list..

And i will share to you all.. cuz i'm nice - her version of:

Somekind of Wonderful

Now it's huges - so you need high-speed..

JOSS STONE - Some Kind Of Wonderful

I just wanna eat her up when i hear her sing this...

9:24 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Kranki said...

whfropera-I am trying to track down that song. Can't find it. But still trying.

10:16 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I'd nearly forgotten about Little Caesar's CoF - it ain't bad either.

And ya know how I feel about Miss Jett, thought she'd be an obvious one.

I could list a ton of covers Harry Connick, Jr. did too of course...and I would "If I Only Had a Brain"

10:26 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Susie said...

I am too fried to play much . . . well, 'member I was terribly offended by Bo what's his face's covers of Drift Away and Vehicle. For me, the Neville Brothers can cover anything they damn well please . . . Bob Marley, George Jones, CSNY . . .

I do enjoy Bucky Four-Eye's cover of "Cocksuckaaaaaaaaahs!" by Mr. Wu and the Two Chinks.

Joss Stone can do no wrong.

10:49 PM, August 16, 2005  
Blogger Candy said...

Ok, Marilyn Mansons covers of, Sweet Dreams, Tainted Love and Personal Jesus.

Gravity Kills cover of Personal Jesus.

Rammsteins cover of Stripped.

Bigod20's cover of Like a Prayer.

Type O Negatives cover of Cinnamon Girl.

Snake River Conspircys cover of Love Song.

I love all of them. What covers do I hate?

Wicked games, covered by HIM, I can not stand that band, I hate them with a passion and they fucked the song all up. I love that song.

I also have a killer cover of Whip It by Devo, done by a girl band, man it rocks, I have a whole cd of new wave 80s songs redone, like One Night in Bankok and such, it rocks hard core.

3:11 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Zombie_Flyboy said...

Oh yeah, how could I forget Johnny Cash's brilliant cover of "Hurt"?

Stupid me.

6:02 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

vK - I'll look for it at the station tonight...

Jess- I totally know which CD you're talking about! I play it all the time when I have to cover the indie rock shows, but damn, I can't remember the name of it - black cover, right?

BFE - I seem to remember that there is a pretty wonderful Zappa tribute out.
Its not ALL opera All the time around here, y'know.

7:50 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger PlazaJen said...

Cake: "I Will Survive" and because I'm partial to them, I also like "Guitar Man".
Mmmm. I like Cake. ;)

8:35 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

DP - Pearl Jam: it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Zombie - what the fuck ever happened to Axl?

Opera gal - and the other 20%? Chopped liver?

Plum - damn, I haven't thought about the Sundays in years and years! You've taken me back about 15 years *sigh*

Alshrim - first, good job on the cock pushups attempt elsewhere on this site.
Joss Stone has a voice that just should not belong to a teenage girl. If she were my daughter, I'd lock her ass up until age 30.
Anybody who hasn't heard her version of the song, do yourself a favor and avail yourself of Alshrim's link, it kicks ass (and this from a Grand Funk fan).

Kranki - you can trust in Opera gal.

Mr. B - I love the jazzed up "brain" song. It's so nice to hear NOT "Somewhere over the rainbow"

Susie - ha! It was your post about Bo Bice's cover of "Vehicle" that inspired this post. And just for you, perhaps I'll post an audio blog of the Cocksuckaaaaaaah cover.
And yes, Joss Stone is a voice I can't get enough of, either. Just listened to her latest CD while I got ready this morning.

Jess - I know I can count on you for a list when anything musical arises here. Would LOVE to hear Type O Negative's cover of "Cinnamon Girl" sometime, hint hint.
And you are much too young to remember "One Night in Bangkok." Did your babysitter let you watch MTV classics or some such? ;)
"I get my kicks ABOVE the waistline, sunshine!"

Zombie - your punishment for this glaring omission will be merciful this time. Now grab your rotting, undead ankles...

Opera gal - I hadn't seen the Zappa tribute CD, but I do have a copy of the Persuasions' Zappa covers CD (they're an a capella band who has the full blessing of Gail Zappa to do this). They even do some instrumentals a capella!

Plazajen - OH! How could I have left Cake off the list? I LOVE "I Will Survive" even more than the Gloria Gaynor version!
I looooooves me some Cake, too.

11:21 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Ghost of Goldwater said...

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Janis Joplin's version of Kris Kristofferson's "Bobby McGee"... though I prefer KK's.

I also like Kenny Roger's version of "The Gambler" (originally written by Don Sclitz) and I think Johnny Cash does "Hurt" much better than NIN (who I hate anyway).

The two greatests "covers" of all times are of course Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" and Maurice Ravel's orchestration of MM's "Pictures at an Exhibition".

1:31 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Lori Denine and her cat said...

Seen some commercial durin that show where Tommy Lee is goin back to school n a group was singing Yummy yummy yummy I got luv in mu tummy...always liked that there song. The Ohigh O Ex Press sang it first off.

1:38 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Ghost - but what about Tomita? Anybody remember Tomita and his electric classical music?

GW - Doesn't that go, Yummy yummy yummy, I've got cum on my tummy?

1:40 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Lori Denine and her cat said...

naw o course it does! I jus needed u ta bring it up

2:32 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

gog - hack splutter're knocking one of the famous "Mighty Handful"???
Rimsky-Korsakov was the Yanni of his time.
I'll grant you the Ravel, but grudgingly. HE (Ravel) was talented, but R-K made a career out of "improving" other composers works, including Borodin.

Sorry, couldn't let that one go by.

2:33 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

BFE - i was so blinded by GOG that I didn't see you used Tomita and "classical music" in the same sentence.
I'm taking that one personally, missy. Them's fighting words. ;)

2:39 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Meggan said...

I like any cover that Type O Negative does... The Beatles medley they do is pretty awesome.

I also like Tiamat's cover of Sympathy for the Devil.

Evergreen Terrace has a whole cover CD called "Writer's Block" with lots of good stuff (if you like hardcore). They do Tears for Fears' Mad World, that Manic (she's a maniac, maaaaaniac on the floor..) song, and U2's Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

I think I like Johnny Cash's cover of NIN's Hurt better than I like NIN's version.

I've had an idea for a while to make a whole cd of cover songs I like. Haven't done it yet, but I have a list somewhere.

2:56 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Ghost of Goldwater said...

Never heard of "Tomita", but the concept sounds 'orrible...

As for Rimsky-Korsakov (who was also one of "The Five", so if I'm "knocking" one of them, so are you...), I think he did a rather good job of improving on Mussorgsky, but it's a free country...

3:04 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

GOG - there were 2 different "5" groups in Russia, they were about between 40-80 years apart, depending on which list you consult :)

the second was a knockoff of the first.

3:27 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

ok, i'm offically being grumpy - i apologize to BFE and the Cotillion and the Internet at large.

3:43 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Sheesh! What a grump! hehe

6:23 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Ghost of Goldwater said...

I wouldn't mind grumpiness, if she only had her facts right. Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov were both part of the 1867 "group of five", the two were born just five years apart and they even shared lodgings. They were close friends, which is the main reason Korsakov made a number of additions and editions to Mussorgsky's work (after his death), without which the latter probably would have been quite considerably less famous today. Bear in mind that Mussorgsky was not all that famous at the time he died - he drank himself to death and lived in great poverty towards the end.

6:39 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

gog - what source you are using for this information?

7:42 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

*looking for Bucky to have to resort to whistle blowing, towel throwing or rooster crowing*

9:04 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

Awwwwww shit. This is going to require some thought.

--Stevie Ray Vaughan--Little Wing--Jimi's version is a damn near flawless song except that it's too short. SRV extends it into what could very well be the perfect guitar solo.

--Hayseed Dixie--Hillbilly version of AC/DC songs? You bet. This is classic shit right here.

--Nine Pound Hammer--Train Kept A Rollin'--12-ish minutes of Blaine Cartwright yelling with several false starts. It's fucking hilarious. NPH also do great covers of Folsom Prison Blues, Long Gone Daddy, Dead Flowers, etc. GREAT band, but I am biased. Click it!

Steve Earle--Dead Flowers--Steve also does a nifty version of the tune.

Cheap Trick--Cold Turkey--I heard the CT version before I heard John Lennon's original. No offense to Mr. Lennon, but I prefer the Trick version. Again, I am biased.

Dread Zeppelin--The thought of listening to Led Zep pretty much makes me want to gag, but I love the Dread Zep gents. The cover of Immigrant Song is priceless.

Rob Zombie--Brick House--Yes, THAT Brick House.

Nashville Pussy--Kicked In The Teeth--Actually they do quite a few great covers, but this is a particularly tasty one.

Jason & The Scorchers--Take Me Home Country Roads--They rock the shit out of the John Denver song and also whip ass on Hank Sr's Lost Highway. GREAT band.

Wrathchild America--Time--One of the great unknown thrash bands of the 80s/90s, they added some thump to the Pink Floyd tune.

Mudhoney--The Rose--A Bette Midler song covered by a grunge band? Hell yes!

1000 Homo DJs--Supernaut--One of the many Al Jourgenson (Ministry) side projects. This Black Sabbath cover is particularly good because they drop the part out of the original that I hate so much. Another of Al's side project, Revolting Cocks, does a cool cover of Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy with one of the nastiest bass sounds in rock history.

Social Distortion--Ring Of Fire/Under My Thumb/Alone And Forsaken--They've done quite a few great covers. Mike Ness has a great voice.

I only skimmed the rest, so there may be some repeats here. I will second the mention of Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt (he's done a lot of great ones on the Rick Rubin produced albums). Although I've taken up way too much space, I will think of more that I have forgotten tonight.

11:21 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

Hell's bells. I forgot what could possibly be my most favorite cover tune of them all or at least the one I want played at my funeral:

Sid Vicious--My Way

The Pat Boone album of heavy metal songs is pretty great, as well as the Golden Throats compilation.

I will add a few covers that I absolutely hate. Rod Stewart positively fucked up Tom Waits' Hang On St. Christopher. He did okay with Downtown Train and Tom Traubert's Blues. Bob Seger also fucked up two Waits tunes on the same album as I recall.

The Rob Zombie cover of Blitzkrieg Bop on that Ramones tribute album pretty much sucks ass. The Ramones did quite a few great covers, but I am too tired to whittle it down to a paltry few.

I really like Kiss' version of the Rolling Stones' 2000 Man. Mainly because Ace Frehley is the one singing it. As far as Kiss covers, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones version of Detroit Rock City is pretty cool with the horn section and the Melvins did quite a few good ones, especially Goin' Blind.

(I still can't believe I forgot the Sid cover. Motherfucker...)

11:31 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

WASP also did a cool version of Paint It Black.

11:32 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Nilbo said...

Oy. Was anybody here born before 1980? God, maybe 50 group names are thrown out and I recognize like 4 ... and two of THEM have been dead since the start of the last century.

This is so depressing. Except, in one giant act of defiance, let me say on behalf of old farts everywhere:

"In my day, the real musicians didn't COVER songs. They fuckin' CREATED them."

(wanders off, muttering about "Kids today", grabs the soccer ball that was kicked into his rose bushes, goes inside, and slams the door.)

11:35 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Man, I didn't think you guys would take off on this one so much. Ex-cellent! *taps fingertips together evilly*

You have given me many leads for new music. And it seems almost universal that I avail myself of The Man in Black's version of Hurt.

Nilbo, do you understand the Pandora's box of joke overload you've just plopped in my lap with your statement "In my day..."?
*biting tongue*

11:44 PM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Ghost of Goldwater said...


+ my trusted Swedish Opera Encyclopedia (Forum Publishing 1993), pages 382-3 and 469-70.

You can also go to to see what the world's largest encyclopedia says about "the five". The full article costs money, but the free intro gives you their names. You may also wish to simply google this, which will give you hundreds of hits.

It's fairly common knowledge and I'm surprised to see it questioned.

1:30 AM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Opera Gal said...

gog - I'm going to back off after this comment because we are entitled to our own opinions, and there definitely are "pro" and "con" camps on this topic (I am no fan of R_K, because of his treatment of Borodin's Prince Igor) - but if you read actual correspondence from the time period, and articles written during their lifetimes, it paints a much different story.
I was forced to read/write piles of this stuff for the History cognate in my graduate studies (I went to a private music school) and while no expert, I feel more comfortable with
the "they really weren't buds" opinion than the warmer, fuzzier interpretation that has crept up over time.
ok, that is all i have to say - can we go back to playing nice, now? :)

nils - with whom I agree - at the station, it is AMAZING how many CDs we get that are just remixes, covers, additional takes on already popular songs.

BFE - a copy of "hurt" is on its way. actually, the entire JC album is really poignant.

7:29 AM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger ALRO said...

WASP ALSO did a cool version of "Don't you want somebody to love" -- and it actually sounds good !!

9:23 AM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

Another classic cover that I neglected to mention is Jimi Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.

I was born in 1969. I sort of remember 1980. Sort of.

10:33 AM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

Even more:

--Hellcopters--Gimme Shelter (It's good, but it in no way touches the original which could very well be my all-time favorite song of them all)
--Supersuckers--Hey Ya--The Outkast song.
--Twisted Sister--It's Only Rock And Roll (live)--For those that think TS are just a cartoon band need to check this shit out.
--Gov't Mule--Sad And Deep As You--I've never heard the Dave Mason version, but I really doubt it could top this one.
--Dave Matthews Band--All Along The Watchtower (Farm Aid '95)--While I wouldn't call myself a fan of DMB, they did a GREAT sort of Pearl Jam-esque version of AATW at Farm Aid in Louisville 1995.

11:57 AM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger ALRO said...

Here's one you won't expect..

Stevie Ray Vaughan did a remake of the Beatles: Taxman. ;)

8:24 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

Speaking of Beatles covers, I am still waiting for Cheap Trick to cover Helter Skelter. I think Robin Zander's voice would kick supreme ass on that one.

11:05 AM, August 19, 2005  

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