Friday, August 20, 2010

Fong Songs 101 All-Time Covers: #77 to 72

Just joining us?
I'm counting down 101 of my all-time favourite covers before packing this blog away in the attic.
Read my countdown preamble here.

Playing with Shadows

77. Labelle - Moon Shadow [originally by Cat Stevens]
From their 1972 album Moon Shadow, Labelle completely make this song their own, transforming Cat Stevens' peaceful folk ballad into a vivacious soul number with a healthy dose of funk. This is actually a shortened version of the album edit, which stretches the track to over 9 minutes by adding (unnecessarily I think) a 5 minute slow groove coda.

76. The Shins - We Will Become Silhouettes [originally by The Postal Service]
The original electropop version of this song by The Postal Service (i.e. Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard) is excellent in its own right, a bittersweet song of loneliness in a post-apocalyptic world. I prefer to interpret the lyrics quite literally rather than a metaphor for a broken relationship, but in any case The Shins' warm acoustic cover is a joy to listen to, providing an even more dramatic contrast to the melancholy lyrics than the original. This cover was actually included on The Postal Service's single for Such Great Heights.

75. Dick Brave & The Backbeats - Black or White [originally by Michael Jackson]
Dick Brave & The Backbeats only put out one album, a collection of rockabilly covers that included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne, Eddie Cochran, Pink, and Aerosmith. Far and away the two best covers of the album are a toe-tappin' reworking of George Michael's Freedom and this lively update of Michael Jackson's 1991 hit.

From the Wonderful World of Disney Covers
The realm of Disney covers is wide and wonderful, which is why we're lucky to have Kurtis and his Covering the Mouse to help highlight the best (and sometimes worst) of them. I nearly forgot that I first got an e-mail from Kurtis just over three years ago inquiring about some Disney cover songs. This led to a long e-mail conversation over the next few months swapping Disney covers and discussing an idea he was toying with: an all-Disney cover blog. Soon this would eventually evolve into Covering the Mouse with me providing sagely advice as a veteran (ha ha) two-year blogger. I can't believe at one point I actually suggested expanding the scope to include all cartoon covers, thinking it would help extend the lifespan of his blog. Now it's been three years and I realize there's no danger of Kurtis running out of Disney covers anytime soon! As one of my favourite subgenres of covers, I'm more than happy to chip in every now and then with some of my favourites, so I'll continue to do so in my monthly guest post over there.

74. Devo 2.0 - Monkey's Uncle [originally performed by Annette Funicello and the Beach Boys]
The first time I heard this while randomly shuffling my iPod I didn't even know it was a cover, but I resisted skipping long enough to get hooked on its nutty lyrics and unusual electro-pop rock arrangement. I soon found out it was Devo 2.0, a Disney kids reincarnation of Devo that actually featured the original performers. They produced one album of revamped Devo covers that flopped and this cover for a Disneymania compilation. I'd never heard of the original song or even the movie it was originated from, 1965's The Monkey's Uncle. I was immediately fascinated since it was originally performed by Annette Funicello and the Beach Boys over the film's opening credits (watch it here!). It was also written by the Sherman Brothers who are actually my favourite Disney-associated songwriters, notably writing songs for Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book, Disneyland, and so much more.

73. Daniel Bedingfield - A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes [originally performed by Ilene Woods in Cinderella]
This starts off as a dreamy ballad, then flips into a snappy big band number and I do dig when covers get the big band treatment. Along these same lines, I'll actually be going to see Michael Bublé tonight for the first time! The two previous times I've tried to go have been sold out, but for a hometown show I expect it to be pretty awesome.

72. Vika, Linda & Siniva Bull - The Bare Necessities [originally performed by Phil Harris and Bruce Reitherman]
Speaking of the Sherman Brothers, they were brought in to redo the soundtrack to The Jungle Book after original songwriter Terry Gilkyson's songs were deemed "too dark", but Gilkyson's now-classic The Bare Necessities was retained and went on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Song. Vika and Linda Bull are a sister duo from Australia and this particular cover comes from a rare album I stumbled across in Hong Kong called Duets: A Family Celebration that featured Australian artists covering Disney songs with their siblings, parents, or children. As I just found out, this thing is so rare that I can barely find much information on it other than a few posts (including my own) on Covering the Mouse. I can't even find the CD to consult the liner notes, so I'm not even entirely sure what relation "Siniva" is to the sisters or if that's even the proper name since I specifically recall that the CD designers had ill-advisedly chosen a nearly illegible cursive font that made tagging the MP3s difficult and potentially erroneous. In any case, this has become my all-time favourite Disney cover song with its unique arrangement and incredible singing.

Tomorrow the Fong Songs 101 countdown continues with some duets and some instrumental covers.

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