Friday, April 18, 2008

Cover of the Coverville Times

Big thanks again to Brian Ibbott, host of always awesome Coverville, for inviting a bunch of us bloggers to discuss and debate (or in my case, ramble and trail off) about our chosen field of expertise: cover songs. 'Twas a distinguish panel that I was proud to be a part of: Liza of Copy, Right?, Steve of Cover Freak, Joshua of Cover Lay Down, and with Kurtis of Covering the Mouse and myself providing the Canadian Content.

It was lots of fun, even though I had a tendency to go into Coverville listener mode and forget I was supposed to be participating. I also got kinda rambly and nonsensical when I started ranting about movie soundtracks, but the real cover culprits that I was getting at (but couldn't think of at the time) were the music factories that churn out stuff like Kidz Bop, Picking On..., Rock-a-Bye Baby, K-Tel Records, and String Quartet tributes. Like a bad SNL skit, they take what may have been a novel idea at first then stretch it out and beat it like a smashed piƱata that's run out of candy. The franchising of cover songs is not exclusively an American phenomenon, but I'm sure it's more prevalent in the States than anywhere else. Anyway, I'm glad Joshua was there to rein us in and highlight the under-the-radar cover albums from the US that we conveniently ignored.

Let the campaign begin... Danny Michel's cover of Young Americans is my official nomination for the 2008 Coverville Countdown. Like all great covers, you can lose yourself in it and forget there even was an original.
Danny Michel - Young Americans [originally by Danny Michel]

Also, because you really need to listen to it, here's the Dan Kelly cover of Nothing Compares 2 U that Brian played a sample of in the show. If I had actually heard it last year, it'd be one of my top covers of 2007.
Dan Kelly - Nothing Compares 2 U [originally by Prince]

Yesiree, bob. Dawggum, made it on Coverville, yes I dids.
In grade 12 English class, we had to do an oral presentation on a poet of our choice. I talked about Ogden Nash in an awful multimedia performance, in which I read the poem "We Would Refer You to Our Service Department, If We Had One" in a dreadful "southern" drawl that I cooked up. Yikes, I just cringe thinking about it. Another student did a presentation on Shel Silverstein (ooh, good choice!) and what I learned that day was that in addition to his classic children's books and poetry, he was quite the songwriter, probably most famously for A Boy Named Sue which became a big hit for Johnny Cash. While most of the oral presentations were a slog to sit through, I still remember when that student put a CD in the ghetto blaster and out came Cover of the Rolling Stone. Shel Silverstein was a frequent songwriter for Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show including this one, which was also featured in a memorable scene from Almost Famous. Not thinking much of it initially, soon its infectious playfulness and catchy sing-a-long chorus won me over.

Poison - Cover of the Rolling Stone [originally by Dr. Hook]
Other than cranking the tempo up a notch a minute into the song, this cover is surprisingly faithful down to the vocal intonations and even background banter, which would normally seem uninspired, but here comes off as an oddly endearing tribute to the original.

R. Stevie Moore - Cover of the Rolling Stone [originally by Dr. Hook]
I'll admit having never heard of R. Stevie Moore, though he has an intriguing wikipedia entry that explains he is an American musician from Tennessee who has, in addition to many indie label releases, "self-issued approximately 400 cassette and CD-R albums". Check his official website here.

Buck Owens - On the Cover of the Music City News [originally by Dr. Hook]
Here Buck Owens does a country-fied variation, substituting The Music City News, which as you might have guessed is a country music magazine.

1 comment:

PINTO said...

What?!?! Shel Silverstein wrote A Boy Named Sue? Crazy...