Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fong Songs 101 All-Time Covers: #95 to 89

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.

It occurred to me that attentive regular readers will probably know or will at least be able to guess what's sitting at the top of this list. Oh well, hope the journey there is a little less predictable!

Super Mario Covers
The video game cover scene has exploded over the past ten or so years as generations of kids who grew up with Super Mario Bros and other video soundtracks pervading their consciousness went on to become musicians and form bands. There are video game cover bands such as The Minibosses, The Advantage, and The OneUps, just to name a few. A integral role of the proliferation of video game covers has been OverClocked ReMix, which has long been the premier site for video game covers and remixes.

95. The OneUps - Super Mario's Sleigh Ride [originally by Koji Kondo; Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson]
This brilliant cover seamlessly weaves Super Mario musical cues with Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride with few other Christmas classics sprinkled in. I love how you could get away with throwing this on at a Christmas party where it can pass for legitimate Christmas music while only a small subsection of the room might catch on to its Koji Kondo roots.

94. Estradasphere - Super Mario Bros. 2 SuperBuckJazz [originally by Koji Kondo]
This was probably the first video game cover I ever heard that really blew me away with its impeccable musicianship and creative jazz arrangement.

93. Retro Remix Revue - Super Mario World - Overworld BGM, Ending [originally by Koji Kondo]
Retro Remix Revue is a project by Davis Jones and Blaine McGurty that is "solely dedicated to arranging and remixing classic video game music with great musicianship and quality engineering". They've released two albums, Retro Remix Revue Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, each containing a phenomenal jazz trio arrangement of Mario music. While the rest of the songs on the albums are a grab bag of styles, unfortunately nothing comes close to the greatness of these covers that play the Mario themes like they're jazz standards. Really, there should be an entire album of these! I had this on at work one time and my manager (who in his spare time happens to be gypsy jazz guitarist a la Django Reinhardt) walked by and exclaimed something along the lines of "Oh yeah! Now THAT'S music!". I nodded in agreement but neglected to ask if he was a fan of Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo.

Rock and/or Roll
92. AC/DC - Baby Please Don't Go [originally by Big Joe Williams]
This blistering Bon Scott-era version of Baby Please Don't Go is probably my favourite version of the song. Well, besides Them. Sorry Aerosmith.

91. Jazz.k.lipa - Purple Haze [originally by Jimi Hendrix]
The first time I heard this I thought it was a brilliant infusion of James Brown's soul into Jimi's original Purple Haze, but it turns out it's actually a remix of a great cover by Johnny Jones and The King Casuals. In fact, Jimi Hendrix was in fact a one-time member of The King Casuals before going solo. The band recorded this cover of their former member in 1968, one year after Purple Haze was originally released. Although it's already a great cover in its own right, I really dig the beats underlying the remix.

90. Lulu Hughes - Time [originally by Pink Floyd]
I first heard Québec singer Lulu Hughes' stunning pipes on this electro tinged cover from the generic sounding (but quite good) Pink Floyd Redux, a collection of Pink Floyd covers by Canadian female artists including Sarah Slean and Pascale Picard. Lulu Hughes also contributes her wails to The Great Gig in the Sky and, on her own self-titled debut, a cover of The Beatles' Helter Skelter. Just a couple weeks ago while at the movie theatre, they actually showed a short interview with Lulu Hughes in conjunction with her new album Lulu Hughes & The Montréal All City Big Band, one of the few times I've actually perked up during the pre-show ads and videos. The new album features a mix of big band originals and covers including Whole Lotta Love, Respect, God Put a Smile Upon Your Face, and Welcome to My Nightmare!

89. The Beatles - Rock and Roll Music [originally by Chuck Berry]
As I've mentioned a couple times, Beatles for Sale is my favourite Beatles album. It was probably the first full Beatles album I ever heard and definitely the first I repeatedly played as a kid. If memory serves, it was the second CD our family ever bought (somewhat ironically, our first CD was a 3-inch Chuck Berry disc) at the defunct Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto. Of the six covers on Beatles for Sale, it was between posting this one or Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey, but this one won out. After all, it really does "gotta be rock and roll music if you wanna dance with me". I was definitely an unconscious cover lover at an early age!

Tomorrow the Fong Songs 101 countdown continues with a Swedish Invasion and some showtunes!

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