Friday Fives – cover your ass edition

joe20cocker

I know this is a sacred topic to most music snobs.  I know this, because I am one, too. Let’s face it, plenty of times, the cover is better than the original  Like ANY time that ANY band did ANY song that was a Lou Reed song.  I thought about this piece as an idea on the way home.  Without doing any research, I wrote down several that came to mind.

Then, and only then, did I consult the interwebs.  What I found online were obvious, and so a little disappointing.  What I think the internet lists generally chose were versions that were more successful.  Me & Bobby McGee is the perfect example of this.  Janis KILLS that song!  It truly became her signature song.  It is super tragic that it didn’t come out until a week after she died.  Still, it will always be her song.  Is it better?  It’s not better than this bootleg version I have that I can’t find online. It’s just Kristofferson and an acoustic.  It is more spoken work, and SO sparse… it really tells a more powerful tale.

I did find this excellent demo from Janis, though.  No production or overdubs… just her catching where to lay the syllables against the chord changes.  It’s pretty sweet.

Another song that tops the list is Hendrix’ over of ‘All Along the Watchtower’  Also, it is great.  Interestingly, it ws Hendrix ONLY hit.  Did you know that?  He didn’t break through with Foxy Lady, or Purple Haze.  Sure, the freaks found him that way… but the way America discovered him was covering Dylan.

Africa  – Toto/Mike Masse

Local Colorado guy, plays bars and does covers (just like my stupid band).  Except, this guy is incredible.  Watch this video below.  Dude has 8 million hits!  We are actually going to see him finally play live at Lodo’s in Highlands Ranch

Btw, since we are talking about this song… this is pretty great.  It’s Dax Shepard and his wicked hot and talented wife making their own video for the song.  It’s dumb.  Really, really dumb.  But… they get it.  It’s a great watch.  Between these two clips (both over 8 million), Toto is cool again.

Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac/Santana

I know you don’t know this is a cover.  It wasn’t a Santana song, but Fleetwood Mac.  Now, we are not talking about the Fleetwood Mac you know, run by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  No, this was WAY before then when they were a British Blues band.  Here are both –

Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green version) 1970

There is nothing wrong with that version.  In fact, it probably could have been the famous version except for Peter.  See, Peter Green was a genius, and also nuts.  Nuts.  Not nuts in a romantic way… I mean nuts in a way that he literally disappeared for 30 years.  The only thing to compare it to is Syd Barrett and the whole Pink Floyd mess.

Here is the Santana version (1971).  Oh, recognize any of these guys?  You should.  They all quit Santana’s band to form Journey.  To me, it is superior because I feel it really found its legs in the Latin inspired groove that left like it should have been there all along.  I mean, we are singing about voodoo, right?

It is interesting to note this cover is only a year later.  Can you think of a modern parallel to that?  I can’t.

 Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen/Bruce Springsteen

God, I love this song.  I am honestly not much of a Bruce fan.  I don’t think I have a single CD of his.  Yet, I regard this song as probably the best rock song ever written.  Here is that song, in all of it’s 1977 glory.

 Now, how can I put this on the cover list?  First off, it’s not a cover.  Second, the song is absolutely fucking perfect.  On every level.  Well, this guy Bruce Springsteen does a pretty good cover.  Really, I count this version below as a cover because it is so stunningly different and beautiful.  Also, I think it took balls of steel for Bruce to take his biggest hit and tear it apart.  This newer version is an elegy of sorts.  The original version is about being young and perfect and getting ready to breakout and have all the opportunities in the world.

This version below, though, is a resignation.  Note, fast forward to the 4 minute mark.  Bruce just goes full Bruce on this version.  Not that ‘America is #1 ‘Bruce… but this telling is from the guy who wrote the line ‘end up like a dog that’s been kicked too much’.

Am I Evil – Diamond Head/ Metallica

To me, there just is no discussion.  There is Metallica’s version.  That is it.  So, here is the original, and I think it mostly sucks… because of the singer.

While the guitar riff rocks perfectly cromulently… this singer guy is full glam.  There nothing evil here at all.  Below is Metallica’s take.  This song couldn’t possibly be more Metallica than it is.

 Let me put this in the parlance that my 16 year old self would understand it.  He would say the original was simply ‘gay’.  Now this one, below… this is just the sound of pure fucking evil.  When my parents found my Ozzy records and growing my hair out… they worried.  They thought this (song above) was what I was listening to.  Kinda funny how incredibly tame Ozzy compared to this.  The only subversion in Ozzy’s records is serious and thoughtful Christianity.  Below the full proper evil version from Metallica.

Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash/Soundgarden

There is nothing wrong with the original.  It’s great.  However, Rick Rubin and Johnny Cage change the meaning  of every single word with their new telling… yet they don’t touch a word.  Here is the original.  Sadly, it does not feature Chris Cornell singing.  Very very few Soundgarden songs show him singing.  Instead, in Soundgarden, he only screamed.  anyways here, here is the original.

WAIT… before you even hear the song… look at this frame.  Even in the still, he is screaming.

See, told you.  Why even have lyrics.  It is just him screaming for 15 years in Soundgarden.  YET… he can sing his dick off.  He may have the best deep voice in all of rock, and literally no one knew.  Listen to this secret acoustic outtake of ‘Like Suicide’  When I heard this, I was frustrated.  It was like the first time I heard him to Seasons.  I thought ‘wait, he can sing?  He could sing he whole time?  Why the hell did he never even try until he was ‘retired’.

Sorry, back to my point.  Rick Rubin (who, to me, deserves as much credit as Johnny Cash here) and just let’s Johnny go all Johnny Cash on it.  This was towards the end of Johnny’s life.  I believe June had already passed… and you can hear Johnny dying a little in every verse.  Luckily for us, Cash knew his time was very limited.  So, he and Rubin spent his last years together just recording at a gonzo pace.  Here this.  Feel this.

And if that doesn’t give you feelings… watch this video below.  I assume this was made post Johnnys’ passing.  It is fucking beautiful and perfect on every level.

This may be the beautiful and creepy and perfect video ever made.  Though this has nothing to do with covers, it is a good place to leave you for the day

Friday Fives – great song, bad band edition

Reader, I am calling an audible here. These are the questions my editor gave me. I didn’t like them. Why? Well, it is its own tangent I will happily share. Then, I am taking a left turn and we’ll go music with today’s fives. The fives are about toy catalogs. I don’t know what that this, honest. I mean, I get the idea, but I didn’t have one. My assigning editor, Roy, has maybe ten years on me. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. I had a toy store, though. Great memories? Nope. Nothing but anger when I think of our toy store. When I was young, I loved building models. These things, plastic car and plane and boat replicas. I went crazy for these.

scalp mandala

I would make them super nice, and then paint them and just be all pleased with myself. When I made planes, I would hang them from the ceiling by thread.  When I made boats, I would make them sea worthy.  You do this with some bb’s for weight at the bottom and a bunch of glue.  They had to be sea worthy because every other Saturday we would flood the lawn with about 3 inches of water.  I know this sounds insane, but it was how we watered the lawn in Phoenix.  We had no sprinklers, but we had berms all around that would hold the water in place.  It looked exactly like this.  In fact, I bet my life this is our neighborhood, and this photo was taken withing a mile of our house.  We had about 30 orange trees on a tenth of an acre.  You paint them white to protect them from the sun.  Not sure if this link will translate, but here is the house in question.  So, every other Saturday I would take out the ships I made and float them on the lawn.  Then, of course, shoot them with my bb gun.

Best part about this toy store is that it was only a mile or so away… so I could get there on foot or bike. Didn’t need parents, just needed about $5. Why so bitter then? This lady bought the store, and she started changing the inventory. In short, she got rid of all the boy stuff and brought in stupid girl stuff. Doll stuff. I remember it was called ‘holly hobby’, and it destroyed my childhood. In just a few short months, all the models were gone. I went back to look and see if I remember this correctly, or if I was just being dramatic. Is there even such a thing as ‘holly hobby’? Given my admitted penchant for hyperbole and exaggeration… I should give a fresh look at the past. I googled ‘holly hobby’ and it was JUST how I remembered it. It was all true, and worse even than I remembered. I am going to give you the link to click on in just a second.

First, I want to put in your mind the ‘before’. This is the before. Cool, manly stuff. Mind you, I had no cable tv, no ipads, no tv in my room. This store was my lifeline. Once that lady moved in, she turned it into this. What is that shit? Is it clothes? Is it dolls? Is it clothes for dolls? Weirdest thing yet… I think it is just pictures of clothes for dolls. What the fuck is that? Did Phoenix suddenly have a glut of 50 year old childless women who collect cats? When I saw Roy’s questions below, it brought that back up. It’s been about 35 years, and a small craft store in a strip mall changed their inventory model. I am STILL pissed. I asked the lady to stock models. I told her I would pay her up front. She was not swayed. reSo, we took a different tact and I called an audible. I went poking around and found a really thoughtful question. Wow, we went a long way around the block when you consider we haven’t even started the fives yet.  See below –

What was the one toy you wanted more than anything as a kid, but never actually got?

What is a toy you used to play with as a kid, that was not actually a toy?

Did you cry crocodile tears when watching Toy Story 3?

What toys would you nominate for the Toy Hall Of Fame?

What about those holiday toy catalogs? Where they part of your holiday plans?

name 5 songs by bands you dislike

Creed > My Sacrifice

What’s not to like about this song. That riff is so bad ass. It is just a well written, well performed, and well sung song.

About the band – what’s to like? Scott Stapp is just a horrible person. He was marginal talent at best. Couldn’t even play and instrument, and became a collosal prick. You get to do that if you are Axl, maybe, but not a bunch of half wits who just got lucky. I feel kinda bad now. It turns out Stapp is nuts. Seriously nuts. Like publically said that the President is a secret member of Isis and tried to kill him. He was institutionalized so he would not commit suicide.

Scott hears phantom voices and has visions of people on fire. She says he’s also paranoid. He left a message with the dean of his kid’s school on November 10, warning that the school was about to become the target of an ISIS attack.

We didn’t know this 20 years ago. He was just a prick back then.  He also recently threatened to kill the president. I do like the guitarist, Tremonti.  Oh, and the bass player called Pearl Jam a bunch of Creed wannabe’s. Every song kinda sounds the same. Tremonti (the guitarist) uses this dropped D and super saturated sound that becomes awfully formulaic.  I really like his guitar choice, though.

 Kiss – Beth

 This song is great. It is so dumb, but it’s also beautiful. This was their biggest hit, can you believe that? I think it charted higher than ‘rock and roll all night’. You know that had to kill the band’s egos… that their biggest hit came from their drummer. I just strongly dislike their music. It isn’t about their overt commercialism. In fact, I respect Gene Simmons for being so upfront about their commercialism. Plus, it gave us this brilliant piece of snark. Here is how much I don’t like Kiss. I was trading hard drives of music with my buddies. We all met and brought our hard drives, with about 400 CDs each on them, and copied them to each other’s drives. Brad had 8 Kiss CDs on his hard drive. I had TONS of room on my hard drive, and I went in and deleted every singe Kiss album.

 Black Crowes – Hard to Handle

 I know it’s not cool to say, especially since I am a guitarist. This band is way overrated. Every song sounds the same to me, and I even saw them live. This is a very old song by Otis Redding. Here is how old we are talking, the Grateful Dead used to do this live, before I was even born. See that guy in the video? He was the original singer for the Dead, not Jerry Garcia. That was up until the Crowe’s version. After their version, there is no other. The Crowes just killed this version. No other version should be placed in the time capsule, not even the original.

 Lou Reed –Walk in the Wild Side

 Lou Reed is wildly, wildly overrated. I find his ‘music’ boring and pretentious and just shitty. For one thing, he doesn’t sing. I am not talking about Velvet Underground. I am talking about solo Lou Reed. He just talks, and it bores me to tears. He is like Patti Smith. All I hear is adoration, and how influential they were. I call shanigans!

This song, though, is just genius.  It is beautiful and catchy and weird as all fuck.  I think this put him on the map as a solo artist.

The Roots – You Got Me

I am not against the Roots.  Questlove is the bomb.  I read his autobiography.  Thing is, their music does nothing for me.  I am sure it’s great, I don’t know.  I have to admit I don’t care.  I am neither furrit, nor am I agin it.  The Roots are like the NFC in the NFL.  I know it exists, but I don’t pay attention.  This song, though, is just amazing and beautiful and perfect.  All credit to Erykah Badu, really.  Btw… that thing on her head… it’s a wig. Another interesting thing about her, she has kids with Andre 3000 from Outkast. Weird, huh  It’s about as subtle as Marge Simpson. Their singer, Tariq, calls himself ‘Black Thought’ as his stage name.  That is so badass it is unspeakable.

Rob Thomas & Carlos Santana – Smooth

I don’t like Rob Thomas or Matchbox 20.  It just sounds like it looks – white bread safe rock for white people.  Rob Thomas seems like a very nice guy.  He’ll take your daughter out, not bang her, and even have her home on time.  When he calls you sir, he means it out of respect… not because he is banging your daughter.  I get no passion from these guys.  In fact, if I had a daughter, when she turned 16 I would replace all her Cds with Matchbox 20 Cds.  No one is going out and getting pregnant listening to that stuff.

This song, though, is the bomb!  Maybe it’s because they have Carlos Santana, who I love.  Also, to give full credit, Rob Thomas wrote this song.  It’s a really great song, and it (re)introduced a whole new generation to Carlos Santana.  I love Santana.

Friday Fives

1. If you can only hear one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Bridge over Troubled Water.  Specifically, the one from their Central Park show in 1980.

2. What one song would you like to be played on your funeral?

Angel, from Jimi Hendrix.  Not that crap studio one, either.  I want the acoustic version.  Carlos knows which one, ask him.

3. What one song that is best to describe your feeling right now?

So tired (Beatles – White album)

4. What one song would you like to hear when you’re sad and depressed?

to mourn, I use only one song.  Samba Pa Ti – from Santana III.

5. What one song that you wished you have written?

the best song ever written – Born to Run