How To Do a Cover Version

In 1978, ABBA released their second single from the inspirationally-titled ABBA: The Album album; as with so many records the Swedish quartet released around the time, it went to #1 in the UK charts:

ABBA – Take a Chance On Me

14 years later, Erasure released a 4-track EP called ABBA-esque; whilst the EP contained three other covers (Lay All Your Love on Me, SOS, and Voulez-Vous), it was their version of Take A Chance… which attracted the lion’s share of airplay, not least because of the gloriously camp video which accompanied it:

The EP romped to #1 in the UK, the band’s first single to do so, and stayed there for a five week stretch.

Erasure – Take a Chance On Me

But you know that’s not really where I’m going with this, right?

For that’s not the greatest version of that song, oh no.

The greatest version – for entirely different reasons – was never released as a single anywhere in the world.

It first aired on BBC2 in the UK on 30th September 1994, as part of an ABBA medley, sung by an ABBA-obsessed chat-show host, duetting with a guest, with the musical accompanyment provided by a soon-to-be-sacked-and-then-begrudgingly-reinstated conductor and his band with an ever changing name.

Complete with introduction, here’s one of the funniest of oh-so-many funny moments given to us by Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge:

Alan Partridge, Gina Langland, Glenn Ponder & Ferrari – ABBA Medley

You’re welcome.

More soon.

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Late Night Stargazing

Yes, I have been a bit quiet so far this weekend, haven’t I?

I’ll explain; until very recently, I had used free anti-virus software on my trusty laptop, but had noticed it was running decidedly slowly.

I would download the software on a month’s free trial, let that month run out then move onto the next one. You know, because I’m tight.

Whenever I ran a scan using whichever program I had on my laptop at the time, it would tell me it had identified some issues, but to resolve them would involve me stumping up and paying a subscription fee.

Sod that.

Eventually, a couple of weeks ago, I gave in, and purchased and downloaded one which had been recommended to me. I ran some scans and it definitely did the trick: my CD burner suddenly started working for this first time in many months, for a start.

And it’s a good job it had, because when I logged on last weekend, ready to type my usual slew of awesome weekend posts, I found that it had run a routine scan. Good stuff, I thought, this is the kind of thing I expect once I pay for something.

Moreover, it had decided to free up some space on my hard drive by removing any files which had not been used in X amount of time.

It would be at this point, had this been a conversation between me and my laptop (and I should stress that I do not talk to my laptop anymore than I talk to say, my fridge, or my microwave – and besides, who wants a talking laptop? It’s got far more on me than I have on it, the little rat) then it would be right here that a concerned look would cross my face and I’d say: “Rrrrrrrrright…so what have you done, exactly…..?”

And what it had done exactly was to wipe any mp3 which hadn’t been played recently on iTunes.

The problem is that I rarely use my iTunes, other than as a way of getting mp3s from my laptop onto my iPod, so there’s an awful lot of stuff which hasn’t been played on there recently.

I’ve lost a lot. I mean A LOT. My iTunes has 27,394 mp3s on it, and I reckon I’ve probably lost about 60% of those.

Plus, and some of you who I had contacted for assistance with tracking down suggestions will know this, I had been planning on (admittedly, for some time now) bringing back The Chain (I’d even started working on the next edition; no honestly, I had – look there it is in my Drafts folder!). But alas, all of the nominated songs which I had sourced or had kindly donated have also now gone.

So much of today has been spent trying to assess what has been lost and then setting about trying to source new copies of them.

That and reviewing the settings on my anti-virus software so that I don’t have to go through the whole sodding process again next time it runs a scan.

Anyway, this is one of the songs which, thankfully, survived. A cover version, yes, some might even say it’s a cover version of a cover version.

But this is my favourite version from one of my favourite albums; I could listen to Natalie Merchant singing binary code rather than words and I’d still be indecently aroused by her voice:

10,000 Maniacs – Because The Night (Live)

More soon (hopefully).

I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

Seems an age has passed since I last wrote one of these, so I’ll kick-start Monday morning blues bashing again with a song absolutely guaranteed to put a spring in your step and a smile on your face:

Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi

And as a bonus, here’s Sonic Youth faithfully covering the very same song on a punk/New Wave covers album that I really should post a load more from some time:

Sonic Youth – Ça Plane Pour Moi

Take yer pick, they’re both ace.

Happy Monday!

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

More from the file marked “Bloody Hell, is that a cover version?”.

To reiterate my previous argument: if you’re going to cover a song, there’s no point in faithfully reproducing the original. Make it your own, so that people assume you wrote it.

Or, ideally, pick a song which very few people will know, which makes the whole assumption thing a whole lot easier.

A case in point:

When Deep Purple disbanded for the first time, guitarist Richie Blackmore went on to form Rainbow, which disappointingly was not a tribute to Zippy, George, Bungle, Geoffrey, Rod, Jane & Freddy.

One of their earliest (and let’s face it, latest too) hits was this absolute belter, which I love even though the title brings out the Grammar Nazi in me:

Rainbow – Since You Been Gone

I bloody love that tune.

But it’s a cover version, something I was oblivious to until fairly recently. Here’s the original by the much-less-well known Head East, who have somwhat, erm, dubious taste when it comes to photos on record sleeves:

Head East – Since You Been Gone

Head East were a bunch of Illinois Uni friends, so perhaps it’s understandable they didn’t get the concent of the word You’ve.

Mental note to self: now that wacky haircut in a suit Boris Johnson is our Prime Minister, I’m not really in a position to take the piss out of Americans for having wacky haircut in a suit Donald J Trump as President. Still, at least we didn’t actually vote for Boris, but then again, the popular vote in the States was not for the cheesburger-munching, Coke-swilling, racist, philandering, law-breaking buffoon either….Must …stop…too…many…comparisons….

But, to get things back on track, here’s my favourite, somewhat unexpected, cover of that song, which is by former lead singer of The Runaways, Cherie Currie, who decided to rope in her sister Marie. You can consider that an odd thing to do, or revel in the fact they made the title grammatically correct, or just enjoy this, which sounds like Heart playing in someone’s garage:

Cherie & Marie Currie – Since You’ve Been Gone

If I ever find that single in a Marie Curie charity store, my life is complete.

More soon.

How To Do A Cover Version

I’ve made two points when writing these posts before.

Firstly, that the version you hear first is, generally, the one that you love the most, and

Secondly, and perhaps less contentiously, if you can do a cover version which so obliterates the original as to make people assume your recording is the first, then you’ve won.

So today’s post was prompted by BBC4 and it’s Top of the Pops repeats (essential viewing at Dubious Taste Mansions) moving into 1988.

Whenever a new year is moved into, it is usually book-ended by an hour long show which focuses on the happenings of the new year, and features songs which were massive back in the day.

Such was the case here, as the series eased even further ahead of me and my futile “records I bought in order” musings.

Unsurprisingly this record came up, which I didn’t buy at the time and have no regrets whatsoever in that regard:

Yazz and the Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Unsurprising, because it was an absolute smash hit and simply could not be ignored when talking about the hits of the year.

But did you know that it’s a cover version?

Nope, thought not.

Here’s the original, from 1980:

Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up

You’re welcome.

More soon.

How To Do A Cover Version

Is it strictly speaking a cover version if you co-wrote it?

Ah, what the heck.

Last weekend I got a text from Hel at a most unseemly time of day:

It may have taken me nigh on twelve hours to reply (I WAS ASLEEP) in my usual candid manner, but she was bang on, as she often is.

Here you go:

Johnny Marr – Bigmouth Strikes Again (Glastonbury 2019)

More soon.

How (Not?) To Do A Cover Version

I’m a little torn about whether this is a good or a bad cover version.

The problem is that both versions are by the same person.

In 1986, Billy Bragg released this as the second single from his “difficult” (but brilliant) third album, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry:

Billy Bragg – Greetings to the New Brunette

But then later – and I must confess, I’ve been trying to establish where this version first appeared, with no success (it probably tells me on the album on which it appears that I own a copy of, but as all my CDs are currently boxed away I can’t be arsed with digging it out) – he re-recorded it with a full band, and whilst he was at it, he re-titled it too:

Billy Bragg – Shirley

See, it’s not a terrible version, and in many ways I think it benefits from the full band treatment.

But here’s two reasons why the original is better:

  1. It has Johnny Marr playing guitar on it, and
  2. It has Kirsty MacColl doing backing vocals on it.

I rest my case.

More soon.