Friday, October 3, 2008


Aerosmith does James Brown? In the words of Sarah Palin, "You betcha!" Steve Earle does Nirvana? In the words of Sarah Palin, "Doggone it ~wink~ he sure does!" Maria McKee does Mott The Hoople? The Staple Singers do Talking Heads? COVER VERSIONS never fail to get attention. Most are never better than the original, at least I don't think so, but there are exceptions, like John Wesley Harding covering Madonna.

Here's BURNING WOOD'S Weekend Mix of some of my personal favorites. I know some purists will send me the proverbial eyeroll by way of a snarky comment regarding the radical arrangements of such classics as The Supremes "Come See About Me," or Aerosmith's pre-"Dream On" take on the Godfather Of Soul, but the truth is, as untouchable as some of these original versions are, I find myself going back to the cover versions a lot more.

Listening to real southern man John Boutte's emotional reading of Neil Young changed that song for me forever. Or how about jazz producer Bob Belden's big tympani arrangement on Dianne Reeves reading of "Tomorrow Never Knows?" Genius! Marshall Crenshaw helping the non-believers realize it's ok to like Abba. Al Green? Is he talking about his English teacher or Jesus Christ? Or David Byrne covering one hit wonder Crystal Waters' novelty hit "Gypsy Woman." He might as well have written it. Or the big Broadway finish The Posies tack on to The Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child." Triumphant!

If you want it, here it is, come and get it.

E-mail if you'd like to hear


I Saw the Light - Lori Carson
Come See About Me- The Afghan Whigs
Return To Sender-Roy Loney
Southern Man- John Boutte
Drift Away- The Rolling Stones
Slippery People- The Staple Singers
I'm A Believer- Bram Tchaikovsky
Like A Prayer- John Wesley Harding
Breed- Steve Earle
Gypsy Woman- David Byrne
Knowing Me, Knowing You- M. Crenshaw
I Wish I Was Your Mother- Maria McKee
Gentle On My Mind - Lucinda Williams
To Sir With Love- Al Green
I Got You Babe- Holly & Joey
Tomorrow Never Knows -Dianne Reeves
Mother Popcorn - Aerosmith
Ooh Child -The Posies


Kevin in Nashville said...

Many thanks for including Roy Loney. He's an undiscovered American Rock & Roll treasure, to put it mildly, and all reading this should check out his music (He's on Career now).
Most of this makes me nervous however, although Crenshaw's ABBA cover sounds intriguing, as does the timpani TNK.
To show my NJ roots, I'll end with a shout out to Barrence Whitfield, probably my favorite covers artist. His 2 with Tom Russell are classics.

NYCD Online said...

Marshall Crenshaw's brilliant cover of "Knowing Me, Knowing You" almost singlehandedly made me realize that ABBA are only mostly evil, not entirely evil. I still don't get why so many people love them so much, let alone why anyone would pay to see a movie with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan singing their songs, but "Knowing Me, Knowing You" is a fantastic song.

Great choices all around on this mix!

Sal Nunziato said...

The enormity of Abba's success is still a bit hard to swallow. But it's hard to deny that there are plenty of great pop tunes. Even Elvis Costello loves "Dancing Queen." I wonder if we would like Elvis Costello & The Attractions less if they wore sequins and looked like Siegfried & Roy.

NYCD Online said...

Hey, I hated ABBA in spite of Agnetha (she was the blond one, right?) being way hot. If Elvis Costello looked like a hot Swedish chick, I'd probably love him even more.

I never liked "Dancing Queen," even when it was a current hit, possibly because Cory, my next door neighbor, loved it and sang it at the top of his lungs so I'd hear it through the walls. I did like "S.O.S.", however. Cory didn't sing that one.

Kevin in Nashville said...

Waterloo was way cool; the phonetic English (How ken I ween when I loose) made it even more so. SOS was also great. They could write great hooks and the women's voices blended well. (see 52's, B)
And let's face it, there are few things prettier than women's voices singing in harmony.
Not so much evil as banal but calculating.
Oddly enough, John McCain is a big Dancing Queen fan.
Here's an unrelated question: I've bought more new (not reissued) music in the last 2 years than since 2000. Are you doing/noticing this?