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Songs that should never be covered

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:57 pm
by Jamie Renton
Catching up with last week's Paul Jones Radio 2 Blue programme on Listen Again & he's just played a cover of OV Wright's 'Nickel & a Nail' by a soul veteran called Sterling Harrison (a new name to me).

It's a perfectly good version, but all I keep thinking is 'It's not OV'. As far as I'm concerned, OV's version is the definattive one & no-one else could ever do this song justice, nor should they try.

James Carr's 'Dark End of the Street' is another example of a reading of a tune that (in my opinion, could never be bettered.

Does anyone else have other examples of songs that really shouldn't be messed with?

Cheers

Jamie

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:41 pm
by Adam Blake
You might very well have said that after hearing Howlin' Wolf sing 'Wang Dang Doodle" - but then there was Koko Taylor. Likewise, "Respect" and Otis Redding and Aretha. You never know what's around the corner!

I say no-one should ever cover "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" or "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" - except maybe The Residents, or Wildman Fischer...

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:28 pm
by Jamie Renton
Adam Blake wrote:You might very well have said that after hearing Howlin' Wolf sing 'Wang Dang Doodle" - but then there was Koko Taylor. Likewise, "Respect" and Otis Redding and Aretha. You never know what's around the corner!


A good point well made Adam. Although it does rather kill this thread stone dead in the water :-(

Mind you, I stand by what I wrote: no-one (not even The Residents or Wild Man Fisher!) could top OV's version of 'Nickel & a Nail' or James Carr's take on 'Dark End of the Street'

There must be more like that

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:58 pm
by Adam Blake
Well, if it comes to it, I'd say Sam Cooke's is the only version of "A Change Is
Gonna Come" but I fear this is demonstrably untrue!

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:16 pm
by Gordon Neill
Adam said:

I fear this is demonstrably untrue!


Yup! Both Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin did great versions. And I suppose it depends on which version you heard first. I came at this song the wrong way around and hear Otis' version first. I like Sam Cooke's version but, for me, it just isn't as good as the Redding 'original'.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:23 pm
by Jamie Renton
Adam Blake wrote:Well, if it comes to it, I'd say Sam Cooke's is the only version of "A Change Is
Gonna Come" but I fear this is demonstrably untrue!


No I think that's a really good example of the kind of thing I had in mind: a peerless combination of voice, song, arrangement & message. The only other versions I can think of are Otis', which is a little too overcooked (no pun intended) & a decent rocksteady cover (can't think by who for the minute). But that song really belongs to Sam Cooke.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:55 pm
by Adam Blake
There's a kind of purist logic (that I have certainly been guilty of subscribing to in the past) that says the songwriter's version MUST be the best, if only because surely they know better than anyone else how the song should go.

But then, the songwriter's "chops" just might not be up to the task. The best example I can think of Carole King's version of "Natural Woman" - it's lovely, it's touching as hell but compared to Aretha's it's like an April shower compared to a monsoon. Carole's just not big enough to do justice to the enormity of her own song.
Tony Joe White does a great version of his own "Polk Salad Annie", but it ain't nothing on Elvis's. But it's all a matter of style. Back in the punk days, various NME journalists who were old enough to know better used to make a big deal of the MC5's version of Chuck Berry's "Back In The USA" - making all sorts of grand claims for it as the best ever Chuck Berry cover. It was just a bit of high energy fluff compared to the swing and subtlety of Berry's original. But high energy fluff was in fashion, whereas swing and subtlety were not.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:25 pm
by Jamie Renton
Adam Blake wrote:Back in the punk days, various NME journalists who were old enough to know better used to make a big deal of the MC5's version of Chuck Berry's "Back In The USA" - making all sorts of grand claims for it as the best ever Chuck Berry cover.


The best ever Chuck Berry cover is Johnny Allen's 'Promised Land' another expample of a definative version & proof that the original is not always the greatest (whatever Dobie Gray may say)

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:56 pm
by Adam Blake
I wouldn't disagree, but speaking in my capacity as a sick reprobate, I prefer Chuck's. Johnny Allen sounds too nice. Chuck just drips with sarcasm, and that's how I like it! My problem, yes, I know, I know...

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:10 pm
by Des
I would hate to hear anyone else do Agadoo by Black Lace. In fact I'd hate to hear Black Lace do it.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:00 pm
by Dominic
John Peel is probably spinning in his grave at the thought of Busted covering Teenage Kicks.

The Raconteurs have also done a version recently which I haven't heard. Peel loved The White Stripes and if this is Jack White's idea of a tribute, I think it's misguided.

Nouvelle Vague's version is, well, Nouvelle Vague.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:01 pm
by Adam Blake
"Teenage Kicks" wasn't that fu*king great to start with and John Peel had way too much opinion-making power for someone with such lousy taste in music. There, I said it.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:41 pm
by Ted
Adam - Did you just criticise the MC5 AND The Undertones and John Peel in the same thread? And you haven't been struck down by a thunderbolt? Just don't go out for a bit is all I'm saying.

You sure you don't want to say anything about Joe Strummer while you're at it?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:49 pm
by Dominic
What do Richard Dawkins & Sam Harris have to say about John Peel?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:02 pm
by Ted
Dominic wrote:What do Richard Dawkins & Sam Harris have to say about John Peel?


More importantly, do they think "Kick Out The Jams is better than "Back In the USA"?