Friday, August 6, 2010
"With A Twist" : THE WEEKEND MIX
This week, two veteran bands released albums that were essentially reworkings of older material. Squeeze did it up note for note. The Black Crowes went for a stripped down approach. That got me thinking.
Why does this happen so often? It never used to. Aside from some country acts who updated their guitar and fiddle recordings of the 40s to include strings and background choruses for the 50s and 60s, major acts rarely if ever put out something other than new material, or the mandatory "live" record.
Is there anyone out there who would rather hear different versions of their favorite artists repertoire, no matter how good the reworking may be, than new material however bad? Does anyone prefer a colorized "It's A Wonderful Life" over the original black and white? Has anyone ever uttered the phrase, "Yes, that toupée makes you look much better." Old Joan Rivers or new? (Well, neither really, but you see what I'm getting at.)
I did just give Sting a favorable review for his symphonic reimaginings. But, I'm thinking that may have been a fleeting moment of shock, as I was expecting something far worse like, "Sting - 17th Century Russians Hymns For Jew's Harp."
The "Weekend Mix" is a collection of tunes, most of which should be very familiar to you, reinterpreted for better or worse.
let's spend the night together- rolling stones
(This was recorded for, but left off of their mostly not bad '95 release "Stripped." The band sounds alright laying back. Mick, not so much)
it wouldn't have made any difference- todd rundgren
(From his foray into bossa nova, 1997's "With A Twist," a record of Todd classics reimagined after 17 martinis, here is the beautiful "Something/Anything?" ballad.)
mississippi- bob dylan
(Personally, if Zimmy released an album a year, with nothing but alternates of this song, I'd be okay with it. This is one of the takes from "Tell Tale Signs." There are no bad versions of "Mississippi.")
care of cell 44- colin blunstone
(From the Gus Dudgeon produced, very uneven 1976 release "Planes," here is Colin's solo take on the Zombies masterpiece.)
lowdown- boz scaggs
(I'm sorry I included this version. What was slick and groovy in 1976, has been reduced to a smooth jazz debacle. Well, it's here now. Make the best of it.)
xanadu- electric light orchestra
(With or without Olivia Newton-John, this is pure pop heaven. and this is ELO's, or most likely just Jeff Lynne's version of the cult favorite.)
mustapha dance- the clash
(I know this isn't really a re-record, but I have always loved it more than the hit single.)
it's different for girls- joe jackson & elaine caswell
(Currently the record holder for "Song That Appears On The Most Burning Wood Mixes," here is the sublime, acoustic duet version of the J.J. classic.)
you've got a habit of leaving- david bowie
(Originally recorded in 1966 under "David Jones & the Lower Third," and available on the British "Nuggets" box, here is Bowie's 2002 re-make, from the aborted "Toy" release, which was to be an entire record of re-records.)
waterloo sunset- ray davies
(From "The Kinks Choral Collection," here is my choice for Ray's best, bigger, though not necessarily better. It is quite beautiful, though.)
dancing in the dark- bruce springsteen
(If the MTV hit starring Courtney Cox was "the record," then this acoustic version from the 1986 "Bridge Benefit" is "the song." Don't know about you, but after hearing this, I can never listen to this hauntingly beautiful and lonely song the same way again.)
town cryer- elvis costello
(Maybe a lazy choice, but not because of the performance. The performance is why it is here. It's just not much different from the studio version found on "Imperial Bedroom." This is a solo acoustic version from an episode of "Spectacle." )
stacy's mom- fountains of wayne
(Check it out and stop your contemptuous snorting.)
rock & roll- robert plant
(Finally, my vote for "Best Aging Rock Legend Who Has Found A Way To Have Fun & Make Good Music While Still Throwing His Old Fans A Bone." From opening night of Robert Plant & His Band Of Joy's current tour, here is the classic, reinterpreted with the help of Darrell Scott, Patty Griffin and the otherwordly Buddy Miller.)
Have you any choices, good or bad?