How Not To Do a Cover Version

Writing yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that I used to write a counter-weight series, where I featured bloody awful versions of great records. Checking back, it transpires that I haven’t posted one since December 2017, which at least shows that I’ve been faithful to my mother’s advice that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Time to rectify that.

In 1972, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood released their Did You Ever? album, and this was the title track:

A bona fide classic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Which leads me here, and may the Good Lord have mercy on my soul for what I am about to post.

Linda Martin, says Wiki, is “…a singer and television presenter from Northern Ireland…best known in Europe as the winner of the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Why Me?”, and in Ireland as a member of the 1970s/1980s band Chips.”

Mick McCarthy, on the other hand, is an ex-footballer who played for Barnsley, Manchester City, Celtic, Lyon and finally Millwall between the late 70s and the early 90s. He went on to manage Millwall and then, as is the natural progression for men born in Yorkshire, the Republic of Ireland.

He’s probably best known for having a spat with RoI captain Roy Keane on the eve of the 2002 World Cup finals which ended up with Keane and McCarthy squaring up to each other, Keane allegedly shouting (apologies in advance for the effing and jeffing): “You’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. I’ve got no respect for you. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.” before either walking out of, or being expelled from, the squad, depending on whose account of events you wish to believe. Classic Keano.

That, and for being startled by, as Young Disciples sang (though I expect it wasn’t about Big Mick), apparently nothin’:

Anyway, in 1991, the stars aligned and Mick & Linda joined forces to cover Did You Ever? and, just like Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, when they met, it was murder:

My ears! My ears!!!

Sorry (I’m not sorry).

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

Tuesday’s Short Song post featuring The Box Top’s The Letter prompted a comment from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said:

“Have you heard Al Green’s version? I think it’s tremendous. Some might disagree (they are of course wrong).”

I hadn’t, but this seemed a most serendipitous suggestion, given the Rev. Green also featured here on Saturday night, and so I decided to investigate.

He’s not wrong you know:

I’ll be honest, before The Box Top’s version ended up in the Short Song series, I had been flirting with the idea of including it in this series anyway, but not with The Rev. Green’s version as the alternative. There are so many versions to choose from, but one that I really love is by Ellie Greenwich.

You know Ellie Greenwich. No you do, I promise you. She either wrote or co-wrote such indisputable classics as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Crystals’ Da Doo Ron Ron, The Shangri-La’s’ Leader of the Pack, Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy (itself a cover version, but we’ll save that for another time, I think), and Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High…I could go on.

But in 1968 she released an album entitled, Ellie Greenwich Composes, Produces and Sings; a slightly disingenuous title given that she didn’t do any of these things on the original version. I’m probably doing her a dis-service there, for the style is very different to The Box Tops’ version, even more so than Al Green’s version, and so she may have either recomposed and/or produced this version, which she definitely sings on.

It couldn’t sound any more like it was auditioning for an Austin Powers movie if it tried, could it?

(Disclaimer: I have never seen any of the Austin Powers movies.)

More soon.


Bit of a fib, that title, because today’s tune is by someone who has been around for years, and this single has been knocking around for a couple of months too.

It’s an artiste who I’ve never really “got”, but at the same time I’ve not invested much time in trying to “get” either. A cursory listen back in the early 2000s led me to decide he wasn’t really for me, although I did feel he might be a kindred spirit when he announced The Fifty States Project, where he intended to make an album for each American state. He gave up after two (Michigan and Illinois). Any other blogger out there who has dreamt up what they considered to be a brilliant idea for a series, but which subsequently peters out after you’ve posted the two songs you thought of at the same time as the idea, will also feel some empathy.

I’m talking about Sufjan Stevens of course, and this is from his current album The Ascension; I’ve not heard anything else from the record as yet, but this is most definitely not how I remember him sounding. This is much more electro-pop, and reminds me quite a lot of White Town’s 1997 smash Your Woman:

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

An absolute classic for you this morning, which has featured on these pages before, if not in this series, so I won’t go over old ground except to say it’s one of my favourite records ever, and to remind you the singer is a very young Alex Chilton, who went on to become influential via his next project, Big Star:

More soon

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I mentioned in passing a while ago that I was binge-watching the first season of True Detective.

What I forgot to mention was the song used over the opening credits – I hesitate to refer to it as ‘the theme tune’ because that always makes me think of tunes specifically written for the purpose, like The Flintstones or Happy Days, whilst this, as with so many great soundtracks, has been appropriated for use with the series.

Released in 2003, Far From Any Road is a delightfully downbeat slice of bleak Americana, speckled with mournful mariachi brass, and lifted from The Handsome Family’s sixth album Singing Bones:

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

When you’ve written a song which is universally recognised as a classic, and which has been covered over 150 times, then when you announce which your favourite cover version is, I would imagine the person responsible for the cover must feel pretty chuffed.

Such a little nugget was dropped on this week’s edition of Guy Garvey: From The Vaults, a show currently airing on Sky Arts, which has recently become a free-to-air channel (I’m not sure if this is a permanent arrangement, although I suspect it might be as it’s been given it’s own channel number on my tellybox, and another one shunted out of the way). It’s a channel – and a TV show – worth checking out, because they generally show gigs on a Saturday night, by the likes of Nick Cave and Pulp, to name just two.

As for From The Vaults, it features the avuncular Elbow singer introducing clips from ITV’s music TV vaults, not somewhere I would have thought particularly blessed with valuable content, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The first episode included some wonderful, never seen before footage of Kate Bush from when she first toured at the end of the 1970s, so good that I wished I’d made more of an effort (read: been able to afford) to go and see her when she finally got round to playing her second set of live dates a couple of years ago.

The classic song that I mentioned at the top of this post popped up in this week’s edition was this absolute beauty:

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

And here’s the footage they showed, snaffled from an appearance on The Russell Harty Show back in 1975:

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that the reason I mention all of this is not just to nudge you in the direction of a really good pop music archive show, but to give me an excuse to post the version of Make Me Smile that Mr Harley likes best out of all of them, as mentioned by Garvey on last night’s show (and he wouldn’t make it up, now would he?),from their 1990 3 Songs EP:

The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)

He’s a man of great taste, is Mr Harvey.

Guy Garvey: From The Vaults airs at 9:00pm (UK Time) on a Friday night, is doubtless repeated at least once, and the whole series is currently available to stream via NOWTV.

More soon.

(Not a) Rant

This week, our glorious leader Boris, who has previously stated that he will “follow the science”, ignored the science which had recommended a “circuit-breaker” two to three week total lockdown, and instead announced his all-new, world beating, oven ready 3 Tier System to beat the Corona virus.

Of course, by now when he uses phrases like “world beating” and “oven ready” it usually means the opposite, and so not very close scrutiny reveals that the 3 Tier System is, of course, exactly the same as the regional restrictions which have been in place for certain areas for a while now – and which haven’t worked – but with a different name.

See. Told you. Not a rant. Less is more, and all that. Not even a vaguely topical song to go with it.

I think we all need some Smokey Robinson & The Miracles in our lives right now: Smokey, because, to paraphrase ABC, when he sings we forget everything; and The Miracles, because…well…need I go on…?

Shush. It was either that or The Tracks (and Trace) of My Tears.

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

One from the pile marked Mostly Forgotten Post-Britpop Singles (subtitled “Could Have Been Contenders”) this morning, comes Gay Dad and their first and highest placed single, reaching #10 in 1999.

Not that it’s up against much competition, mind; only follow-up single Joy! troubled the Top 40 before the band split up in 2002.

This, then, remains their best-known tune and it’s a little cracker:

More soon.