Thursday, October 09, 2008

80s Weekend Hangover

Grrrr, my internet's been cutting in/out all day... and the only cure is a monster batch of even more 80s covers! Here are some that didn't make the first cut, mostly because they don't carry the same personal resonance as some of those earlier picks. Some I just plain forgot to include and the 80s police got mad at me.

The Pigeon Detectives - The Power of Love [originally by Huey Lewis & The News]
Tropical Jazz Big Band XI - Hip to Be Square [originally by Huey Lewis & The News]
Huey Lewis is so synonymous with the 80s, in no small part due to The Power of Love's prominent role in Back to the Future (possibly the greatest 80s film?), it was extremely difficult to resist the temptation to load up on Huey Lewis & The News covers the first time around. The Pigeon Detectives do a fine take on The Power of Love, representing the year 1985 on the BBC compilation of covers, Radio 1 Established 1967. The instrumental Hip to be Square cover is a hoot too.

Lostprophets - Need You Tonight [originally by INXS]
INXS covers are surprisingly hard to come by. This one's kind of a wasted opportunity because I think the music takes some interesting twists, yet the vocals adhere way too closely to Michael Hutchence's inimitable delivery and thus pale in comparison.

Francis Soto Band - Sunglasses at Night [originally by Corey Hart]
Here's my CanCon for the post. We can't talk about 80s music in Canada without mentioning Corey Hart, now can we? Here's a German metal cover of his big hit, Sunglasses at Night. Weird trivia via wikipedia: Corey Hart turned down the role of Mrty McFly in Back to the Future! Luckily that role went to Edmontonian (yay!) Michael J. Fox. When I think Canadian 80s music, the real king is Bryan Adams, covers of whom are sadly lacking except for a couple I've posted before. I also wanted so bad to include a Glass Tiger cover, but I couldn't track down anything worthwhile.

Dondero High School - Love in an Elevator [originally by Aerosmith]
Here's one I left off since I don't really associate it with the 80s, not surprising since the album it's from Pump was released in September 1989. This hilariously great cover is from the annual Dondero High School Pop Concert (1971-2006) in Royal Oak, Michigan. Each year, the student choir and musicians would perform 20 or so covers of popular songs. Archives of concerts held between 1995 and 2005 are available for free download (hosted on the Internet Audio Archive). Lots of inspiring cover choices, prepare to clear out some hard drive space for these. Interesting factoids: the school was opened in 1927, became Royal Oak Middle School in 2007, and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey is a former student.

Rilo Kiley - Simply Irresistible (live) [originally by Robert Palmer]
Robert Palmer covers are pretty scarce as well. If not for the lyrics, this slowed down indie cover by Rilo Kiley would be pretty much unrecognizable.

Spunge - Centerfold [originally by J. Geils Band]
One of the most sing-a-longable na na na na na sections in 80s music. I knew nothing about the J. Geils Band, so I was mildly surprised to learn 1981's Freeze Frame was the band's 12th album and they originally formed in 1967!

Mose Giganticus - Mr. Roboto [originally by Styx]
Self-described electronic/synthpop/punk/rock band Mose Giganticus perform this surprisingly faithful Styx cover except with more aggressive vocals. My first exposure to Mr. Roboto was actually through some lyrical quotage in the Barenaked Ladies' The King of Bedside Manor. I was mildly obsessed with this song when I "re-discovered" it in high school, presumably through this 1999 VW Golf commercial. Coincidentally, this ad came up last week in an AV Club article where I found out the man singing/dancing in the car is none other than Tony Hale AKA Buster Bluth on Arrested Development (AHA!). Up until last night, I ignorantly assumed that people were making ironic Styx references when they used "Kilroy Was Here" when it turns out it's a popular American expression dating back to WWII. Geez. Leave it to wikipedia to provide much needed context. Mr. Roboto inadvertently resonates with me because of Graeme Base's 1989 children's puzzle/mystery book The Eleventh Hour, in which someone eats all the food at Horace the Elephant's 11th birthday and all his guests are suspects. It's full of elaborately complex clues, lavishly detailed illustrations, and a sealed section at the back which reveals the big mystery. I spent hours poring over this book and still ended up half-guessing, then all out sneaking a peek at the sealed section, painstakingly reading it without actually breaking the seal, which is still intact today. If you know the song and you've read the book, you might know what I'm talking about.

B.A. Baracus Band - Growing Pains [originally written by John Bettis]
Here's another guilty pleasure from the B.A. Baracus Band. As Long As We've Got Each Other, the theme to Growing Pains, was performed in most seasons by B.J. Thomas, probably best known for singing Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, and Jennifer Warnes. I remember my sister watching the show because it had Teen Beat cover boy Leonardo DiCaprio in an early role. Mind you, this was in during the show's last season in 1991...

Julian Velard - Here I Go Again [originally by Whitesnake]
From a session on BBC 2's Dermot O'Leary, New York artist Julian Velard flips Whitesnake on its head by performing this cover, unless it's my imagination, in the style of Barry White. Barry Whitesnake?

Speak Low - Thriller [originally by Michael Jackson]
An early nightmare image from my childhood derives from my uncle showing me a VHS recording of the Thriller music video at my grandparents' house while on a sleepover. Basically just the scene of MJ in the woods turning in a werewolf (er, cat) while his girlfriend screams in terror... the eyes, the yellow eyes! I don't remember the song or even the rest of the music video after that point, so maybe I didn't even watch the whole thing. In fact, for a long time I thought I had just seen some excerpt of a feature-length Thriller movie, which I vowed to never see. And now it's considered one of the greatest music videos of all-time. Petra Haden does an amazing a cappella cover of Thriller, but my favourite version is this wah-chicka-wah/Hammond organ/Shaft-like instrumental funk cover by Speak Low. It always grabs me right when the horns make their entrance and never lets go.

Robin McKelle - Abracadabra [originally by Steve Miller Band]
This is a fantastic big band jazz cover by relative newcomer Robin McKelle. When I was talking about the Mini-Pops the other day, I can't believe I forgot about Abracadabra, which introduced me to the Steve Miller Band long before I heard songs like Rock'n Me, The Joker, or Take the Money and Run. I'm flying back home for Thanksgiving (next Monday for Canadians) and I'm going to dig up that Mini-Pops cassette in the basement.

Reel Big Fish & Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer - Don't You Want Me [originally by Human League]
Can't believe at forgot this one. A popular singalong on roadtrips for my sister and I by virtue of being one of the few duets on any mixtape, ignoring the creepy connotations of kids singing this (not unlike the Mini-Pops). When I was about 8, the Yellow Pages had this automated music trivia quiz I used to call all the time where they would play a song clip and ask multiple choice questions about it, answering with the touchtone phone. On one of these quizzes the clip was Don't You Want Me and that's when I learned the artist was Human League after enlisting in some help from my mom.

The City on Film - Come on Eileen [originally by Dexys Midnight Runners]
An acoustic guitar and violin cover sung in loving tribute of one of the most enduring one-hit wonders of the 80s.

Tori Amos - I Ran [originally by Flock of Seagulls]
In my mind, Tori Amos is basically her own subsection of covers. This Flock of Seagulls cover is from her 2005 tour, in which she devoted one section of her concert to playing covers that fans could vote for in advance on her website. Six of these shows were recorded and released as The Original Bootlegs and featured covers such as Aerosmith's Dream On, Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger, and George Michael's Father Figure.

The Wrong Trousers - Video Killed the Radio Star [originally by The Buggles]
The Wrong Trousers - Handle With Care [originally by the Traveling Wilburys]
Lastly, but certainly not leasty... The Wrong Trousers, who I've mentioned in a previous post because of their great cover of Such Great Heights. Since then, I bought their debut CD off CD Baby and loved it. I'd describe their sound as joyful, but not cloying. Their covers were a promising indicator of the quality of their originals, which are awesome. This was a request from Boyhowdy over at CLD who heard their Video Killed the Radio Star recently and was wowed. I completely overlooked this when compiling my earlier 80s post and glad he reminded me because it's definitely worthy of attention. He also alerted me to their Traveling Wilburys cover that I didn't know about. Thanks! The cover world can always use more Wilburys covers. The Wrong Trousers first gained attention with a youTube video of them as teenage buskers covering The Buggles. As a mandolin, harp, and upright bass trio, there's the immediate threat of being dismissed as a novelty, but their music is full of heart and major talent to be reckoned with. In fact, one of their members was accepted into UCLA this year and is currently studying mandolin with a major in Ethnommusicology! I think they've got a new EP or LP due soon and I'll snap it up as soon as I can. Technically, Video Killed the Radio Star was released in 1979, but it made 80s history after becoming the first music video to ever be played on MTV when the channel debuted in 1981, at the same time cementing its place in Trivial Pursuit for ever more.


Scott said...

Off your normal topics, but Graeme Base has a new puzzle book out, Enigma. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard it compares well to The Eleventh Hour.

Fongolia said...

Thanks for the info. I'll definitely keep an eye out for that at the library.

Donald Gibson said...

I would have loved to have heard the post-concert "talks" between the Dondero High students and their parents when the kids asked what "Love In An Elevator" is really about.

Fongolia said...

Why, it's about two people who met on an elevator and had a lovely chat before exchanging phone numbers and parting amicably.

Anonymous said...

Just happened upon your site. Its great and wanted to let you know your work on posting these songs is appreciated. Thanks!

Fongolia said...

Hey thanks! Comments like yours are very much appreciated and make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Dane said...

I took Abracadabra, Come On Eileen, and Thriller - thanks for posting these, they look intriguing.

Anonymous said...

is there anyway you can repost Julian Velard - Here I Go Again, im dying to find it and cant anywhere else.

Fongolia said...

Here you go.

Julian said...

Would love a copy of Here I go Again. Looking for that version for ages. Lemme know if you can repost, would be amazing!

Fongolia said...

Hey Julian,
Here I Go Again