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:

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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.

Friday Night Music Club

This was supposed to be the last part of this “Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question” theme, but I’ve thought of enough additional ones to drag it out for another week after this. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

So, we’ll kick things off with what seems to be the obligatory dollop of Britpop:

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246. The Boo Radleys – It’s Lulu

…the title of which is of course lifted from the TV show of the same name (obviously, hence it’s inclusion here. Do try and keep up, will you..?) as Scottish elf Lulu’s 1970s Saturday night spectacular (Disclaimer: the request for you to vote for Lulu to win a Brit award is nothing to do with me):

But whenever I hear the name Lulu, it’s not the Bee Gee-banging, Freemans catalogue saleswoman that first springs to my mind. No, it’s the character played by Kathy Burke in “Harry Enfield & Chums”:

Not the funniest clip in the world, I grant you, but you get the giste.

National Treasure-in-waiting Kathy’s had quite an increase in her online presence recently; she’s joined Twitter (if you like a good swear – and a good laugh – give her a follow @KathyBurke ), and has been interviewed by Adam Buxton on his wonderful podcast (which you can listen to here) and on Scroobius Pip’s fascinating Distraction Pieces podcast (which you can listen to here). Both are highly recommended.

Plus, Kathy’s in this, which I’d completely forgotten about until writing this post:

And she also declared her admiration for the lyrics of the bequiffed one when she appeared on Room 101 (go to 25:38 for the relevant bit):

And whilst she’s a highly regarded theatre producer these days, it is for this character and sketch that she is perhaps mostly fondly remembered:

Why am I banging on about Kathy Burke?, I hear you ask. Well, because of the sitcom she starred in which was named after this, that’s why:

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247. ABBA – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

Well, it is Eurovision weekend, after all. Can’t really not mention them somewhere, can I?

Now. Regular readers will know that I have often cited my older brother (hello!) as a major influence on my music tastes. As I’m a couple of years younger than him, and although later life has brought some kind of parity, when we were kids I always seemed to be a lagging behind in terms of records that we bought. Consequently for much of our youth I would have rather died than actually admit to liking anything he did: when he liked rock music, I was still into Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Stevens; by the time I’d started listening to Deep Purple, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, he had moved onto The Rolling Stones and The Jam, and had come back from America with his brace of albums by The Go-Go’s amongst other things; by the time I’d moved onto them, he was going Goth. You get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I mention this now is that I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a series of posts where I highlight records which he bought but which he probably would rather I didn’t remember him having, and of which he will doubtless deny all knowledge.

Like this one (oh, yes you did!):

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248. Eurythmics – Would I Lie To You?

This was the lead single and opening track from their fourth studio album, 1985’s “Be Yourself Tonight”, (which he bought), the second single from it being their only UK Number 1, “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”, which is possibly one of my least favourite records ever, due to the ridiculous amount of over-signing which characterises it. I’m not going to post it, because I hate it so much.

His purchase of this album, though, does demonstrate another family trait which we both seem to have: not getting into bands until they’re past their best. By the time this came out, Eurythmics had all but ditched the electronic sound which informed their earlier finer moments, such as singles like “Love is a Stranger”, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made This)”, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Here Comes The Rain Again”, all released just a year or so earlier.

As for the TV show it links to, it’s a comedic update of “Call My Bluff”, a parlour game if you will. For those of you outside the UK who’ve never seen it, the premise is this: two teams of three play against each other. One player reads out a card containing a statement about something they must claim to do or have done; members of the opposing team question them and try to work out if they’re telling the truth or not. To make things more interesting, as they say, they have never seen the card before, which means if it’s a lie, their quick-wittedness and ability to lie is closely scrutinised.

Here are some of my favourite moments from the show. First, Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges tries to convince his opponents that he once bought a horse by mistake:

Secondly, Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert explains how he once paid for some tapas with a Nissan Micra (this is the complete episode so feel free to skip forward to 24:18 for Rhod’s yarn):

Of course, the game is made even harder when you have the likes of the brilliant Bob Mortimer, who seems to be talking utter nonsense most of the time, on:

There is of course another famous song with the same name, another song that I’m not overly fond of, but in a spirit of both diversity and transparency, here’s the inexplicable  winner of three Ivor Novello Awards in 1992, for Best Contemporary Song, Best Selling Song and International Hit of the Year :

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249. Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You?

Every show I’ve mentioned so far this week has been broadcast on the BBC, so let’s change channels.

Between 1999 and 2006, ITV showed a drama series which I never watched, partly because it seemed to be a rip-off, albeit one with considerably higher production values, of Australian soap and late-night student/stoner favourite “Prisoner: Cell Block H”, and without a character with as great a name as “Vinegar Tits Vera”, but mostly because…well, it was on ITV, which is usually enough to put me right off.

Set in Larkhall, a fictional South London women’s prison, by which I mean a women’s prison in South London, not a prison for South London women (although now I think about it….), I speak of course of:

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250. Donna Summer – Bad Girls

And whilst we’re on prisoners, here’s The Clash with the B-Side of their single “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”:

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251. The Clash – The Prisoner

…which of course shares it’s name with the iconic, if mind-bending (read: weird), 1960s show starring Patrick McGoohan. Here’s the original opening sequence, which doesn’t half seem to go on:

One TV detective who was responsible for making a lot of people prisoners over the 69 episodes he starred (see what I did there? I really don’t just throw this together, you know), was Columbo.

In 2008, The Verve released their fourth album, the much anticipated follow-up to 1997’s critically acclaimed, multi-million selling “Urban Hymns”. However, “Forth”, for that was the witty moniker it received, was under-whelming at best, but did contain this:

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252. The Verve – Columbo

A few years ago, I was working for a motor insurance company, and was asked if I could come up with any incentive schemes to get the best out of the staff. Some of the claims we dealt with were theft-related, and which required a telephone interview of the policyholder. I, along with pretty much all of my colleagues, hated doing these, so I suggested that my employers should try to find a way to make these a less arduous task for us. To do this, I suggested a monthly cash prize for whoever used the phrase “Oh, there’s just one more thing …” at the end of the interview most often in the month,  just as the interviewee thought their ordeal was over,  presenting them with a killer question, catching them off guard.

The didn’t go for it. The fools. Perhaps I should have suggested a hand lion.

Ok, last one for this week.

I’ve always loved songs which tell a story, which explains why I like those old Country stars like Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Tom T. Hall so much, as well as folks like Ray Davies, Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, Nick Cave, Bruce Springsteen, and it’s to the latter that we turn to round things off.

The title track from his 1980 double-album of the same name, this is just wonderful:

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253. Bruce Springsteen – The River

And the link? In 1988, and running for just one series (it was THAT good) was a romantic comedy starring twinkly-eyed 70s heart-throb David Essex as lovable, Cockney, ex-convict (aren’t they all…?) Davey Jackson.

Nope, me neither.

More soon.