How to Do a Cover Version

If ever there was a post that would earn me my second ever Take Down notice, this is it.

But then again, I’ve basically said that Bill Wyman is a paedophile on these pages before and nobody batted an eyelid, so maybe I’ll be okay.

In 1958, The Staple Singers released a record called “This May Be The Last Time”, and it went like this:

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The Staple Singers – This May Be My Last Time

But that’s not the original version; it can’t be, because that came out in 1958, and I’ve tracked down a recording from five years earlier, which appeared on this album:

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The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – This Could Be The Last Time

“My”…”the”…okay the title may be ever so slightly different, but it’s the same song, right?

And that’s fine, they’re both utterly great versions.

And then in 1965, this got to #1 in the UK Charts:

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The Rolling Stones – The Last Time

Well, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, there’s some different lyrics thrown in, but that’s no problem, the Stones are proud of their blues and gospel roots, so they obviously credited – or the very least part credited – the original artists, right?

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Oh. Bit awkward.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Keith Richards decided to set the record straight: “We came up with ‘The Last Time’, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time.”

Hmmm.

Let’s take another look at that single sleeve again. There’s another name that leaps out, isn’t there? Andrew Loog Oldham.

Oldham was The Stones’ manager (I can heartily recommend his autobiography “Stoned”, by the way, but I’ve not read the pip-squeezing other two “2Stoned” and “Rolling Stoned”) and producer, and creator of this:

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The Andrew Oldham Orchestra – The Last Time

Hang on just one moment, though. Something about that rings a few bells too, doesn’t it?

From this:

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The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

As a result of a fairly infamous legal battle, centred around the alleged plagiarism by lead Verve-ist Richard Ashcroft, Jagger and Richards were added to that as co-composers, so they got their slice of the pie.

Which, given the above, is a bit rich, really, isn’t it, dear reader?

Mind you, Ashcroft really should have known better. It’s not like Jagger and Richards didn’t have form for that sort of behaviour…..For back in 1991 this record met a similar fate:

After The Watershed Front

Carter USM – After The Watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way)

…which borrowed heftily from this:

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The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday

Ah, plagiarism. As some anniversary or another of this album’s release is almost upon us, it seems appropriate for me to sign off with this:

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The Smiths – Cemetry Gates

More litigious nonsense soon.

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