How Not to Do a Cover Version

BBC4 on a Friday night is generally a wonderful channel for music fans to watch, and last night was no exception, mostly because they showed their “Kate Bush at the BBC” show, a load of clips of…erm…Kate’s performances on the BBC. If you missed it, I’d heartily recommend catching it on th’iPlayer whilst you can.

As I watched it, it occurred to me that for someone so revered as she is, I could think of very few examples of people covering her songs well. I’d like to think that’s because most musicians release that you can’t improve on perfection.

Some people, however, have had a go. I’d like to say with varying degrees of success, but that would be generous, and anyone who knows me knows that’s not a quality of possess in abundance.

So let’s have a round-up of the not very good ones.

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White Flag – Wuthering Heights

I own this on the above compilation album, but don’t be fooled by the “…Performed By Today’s Stars” tag-line. This was released in 1992, so no longer “Today” and I think an album containing cover versions by, amongst others, Erectus Monotone, Hypnolovewheel and Chia Pet is stretching the notion of “Stars” to its knicker elastic-twanging limit. It does however have tracks by Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Redd Kross, Superchunk and The Connells so there’s much to recommend it (and I will doubtless post much more from it in the future), just not this particular cover version.

There’s nothing to recommend this one, either, as it goes:

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China Drum – Wuthering Heights

Louder is not always better, guys. Especially not when you place it right next to the simply breath-taking original:

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 Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

I have a lot of time for certain records by Placebo. Just not this one, which arrived on a bonus disc of covers, called “Covers” (inspirational out-of-the-box thinking by whoever came up with the title, by the way), available with their 2003 album “Sleeping With Ghosts”:

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Placebo – Running Up That Hill

…which, isn’t awful, it just isn’t a patch on the original:

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Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)

But I’m saving the worst for last.

Regular readers will now how little I care for cover versions where a shuffly Soul II Soul-esque dance beat (and yes, I realise that using the phrase “dance beat” makes me sound like a granddad) is added in the hope of making something sound contemporary (see my previous posts about Tin Tin Out), but that is exactly what Inside Moves (nope, me neither) did:

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Inside Moves – The Man With The Child In His Eyes

But even that pales into insignificance when compared with the next version of the same song, which originally appeared on their “Violently EP”, but which I own on the group’s “Best Of” album:

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Hue and Cry – The Man With the Child in His Eyes

I honestly don’t know what riles me so much about that version; on face value it’s a fairly faithful cover. I have nothing against Hue and Cry in general; as I’ve mentioned before “Labour of Love” is one of my favourite records not just from the 80s but ever. Maybe it’s the needless change of perspective, from “I” to “You”; maybe it’s the unnecessary oversinging “na-na-na-na-na-na” bits. I dunno.

Let’s cleanse the palate.

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Kate Bush – The Man With The Child In His Eyes

Speaking of awful covers, that’s a pretty poor, far to literal sleeve, isn’t it?

More soon.

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Jez

On Twitter: @atastehistory or me (where you're more likely to get a reply and a follow back): @jezbionic or by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “How Not to Do a Cover Version”

  1. I was prepared to really despise the White Flag cover, but I somehow found myself quite enjoying it. But for some reason I think that China Drum’s is not very good at all. Makes no sense. Inside Moves did nothing for me, not bad, but Hue and Cry’s weak-voiced effort is pants.

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