Photography by Kelly Segré
Episode Vinyl Junkies Making Mixtapes – Covers Better Than Original
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First song is not available on Spotify so here is the music video for your listening pleasure.
Podcast Notes & Facts
1. Can’t help Falling In Love With You – Lick The Tins, 1986 Used in the John Hughes Film Some Kind of Wonderful at the ending credits. It never was a hit in the US, although it spent 9 weeks on the charts in the US. Irish Quartet. The last album they released was in 1987. Elvis is obviously does an amazing job, but I’m a sucker for Irish Folk.
2. Lola – The Raincoats, 1979 Once again female singer doing a classic song (originally done by the Kinks) Love that the pronouns weren’t changed even though it’s a woman singing. The Raincoats also have folk-pink type of feel which is a trend with me. Off their debut album.
3. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart – Al Green, released in 1972 on Lets Stay Together. Originally done by the BeeGees (written by them and released the same year). Al Greens version was featured in Good Will Hunting, The Virgin Suicides, Notting Hill, & Book of Eli. In 2008 it was made into a duet with Joss Stone for the Sex and The City Soundtrack. This whole album is amazing.
4. Proud Mary – Tina Turner, 1971 (originally by CCR, CCR version actually charted higher).
This was a #4 hit in the US for Ike & Tina Turner in 1971, and a highlight of their live shows. Tina Turner recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 how they came to record this on their Workin’ Together album: “When we cut the album, we were lacking a few tunes, so we said ‘Well, let’s just put in a few things that we’re doing on stage. And that’s how ‘Proud Mary’ came about. I had loved it when it first came out. We auditioned a girl and she had sung ‘Proud Mary.’ This is like eight months later, and Ike said, ‘You know, I forgot all about that tune.’ And I said let’s do it, but let’s change it. So in the car Ike plays the guitar, we just sort of jam. And we just sort of broke into the black version of it. It was never planned to say, ‘Well, let’s go to the record shop, and I’d like to record this tune by Aretha Franklin’… it’s just that we get it for stage, because we give the people a little bit of us and a little bit of what they hear on the radio every day.”
“Proud Mary” attracted 35 covers in the year 1969 alone. Over 100 have been made since.
5. Walk On By – Isaac Hayes, 1969 Hot Buttered Soul
Original performer by Dionne Warwick in 1964 and hit #1 on the charts12 minute version by Isaac Hayes reached number 30 on hot 100 charts and #13 on R & B charts. Edited for single release down to under 5 minutes, this single reached number 30 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. This version was also featured in the film Dead Presidents and is sampled in 1992 by Compton’s Most Wanted in “Hood Took Me Under“, in 1994 by The Notorious B.I.G. in Warning, in 1995 by Tupac Shakur in “Me Against The World“, in 2000 by Wu-Tang Clan in “I Can’t Go to Sleep”, in 1996 by Hooverphonic in “2 Wicky” and in R&B singer Beyoncé‘s 2016 song “6 Inch“.
IT’S JUST FUNKIER
6. Higher Ground – RHCP, Mother’s Milk, 1989
Originally written by Stevie Wonder, The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered this song and re-worked the music to fit a smaller band than Stevie Wonder worked with. The keyboard part was replaced with Flea’s powerful slap bass, and John Frusciante has a different guitar medley than played in the original. It’s the bass that’s makes it better than the original.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis joked that the reason they covered this song was because it was between this song, and covering the New Kids on the Block’s “Hangin’ Tough.”
7. All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix. Electric Ladyland 1968
This was written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967, but it was the Jimi Hendrix cover that made the song famous. Many other artists have covered it, including Eric Clapton, Neil Young, U2, Dave Matthews Band and The Grateful Dead. Dylan was so impressed with Jimi’s version that Dylan for years played it the way that Jimi had recorded it.
This was Hendrix’ only Top 40 hit in the US, where his influence far outpaced his popularity. He charted a few times in the UK, where he rose to fame before making a name for himself in America.
Hendrix: “All those people who don’t like Bob Dylan’s songs should read his lyrics. They are filled with the joys and sadness of life. I am as Dylan, none of us can sing normally. Sometimes, I play Dylan’s songs and they are so much like me that it seems to me that I wrote them. I have the feeling that Watchtower is a song I could have come up with, but I’m sure I would never have finished it. Thinking about Dylan, I often consider that I’d never be able to write the words he manages to come up with, but I’d like him to help me, because I have loads of songs I can’t finish. I just lay a few words on the paper, and I just can’t go forward. But now things are getting better, I’m a bit more self-confident.”
8. I’ll Keep It With Mine – Nico, 1967 Chelsea Girl
“I’ll Keep It with Mine” is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1964, first officially released by folk singer Judy Collins as a single in 1965. Dylan attempted to record the song for his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.
Back to women who sing folk music well.
Nico was dissatisfied with the finished product of the album as a whole. Looking back in 1981, she stated:
“I still cannot listen to it, because everything I wanted for that record, they took it away. I asked for drums, they said no. I asked for more guitars, they said no. And I asked for simplicity, and they covered it in flutes! […] They added strings and – I didn’t like them, but I could live with them. But the flute! The first time I heard the album, I cried and it was all because of the flute.”
At the insistence of Warhol, she recorded vocals for three songs of the Velvet Underground‘s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). At the same time, she started a solo career and released Chelsea Girl. Nico’s friend Jim Morrison suggested that she start writing her own material. She then composed songs on a harmonium, not traditionally a rock instrument; John Cale became her musical arranger and produced The Marble Index, Desertshore, The End… and other subsequent albums.
In the 1980s, she toured extensively in Europe, United States, Australia and Japan. After a concert in Berlin in June 1988, she went on holiday in Ibiza to rest and died as the result of a cycling accident.[4
9. Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies, 1988 Originally done by Velvet Underground…Lou Reed. 1988: Cowboy Junkieson The Trinity Session. This version’s arrangement is based on the slower version of the song released on 1969. Lou Reed was often quoted as saying that the Cowboy Junkies’ version was his favourite. It features on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone‘s 1994 movie, Natural Born Killers.
10. Isn’t It A Pity – Galaxie 500 “Isn’t It a Pity” is a song by English musician George Harrisonfrom his 1970 solo album All Things Must Pass. It appears in two variations there: one the well-known, seven-minute version; the other a reprise, titled “Isn’t It a Pity (Version Two)“. Harrison wrote the song in 1966, but it was rejected for inclusion on releases by the Beatles.
Covered on Galaxie 500 2nd album On Fire. The band didn’t play it live because, according to this 1990 interview in Sounds, because it was “too hard”:
11. With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song. The Beatles recorded it a year earlier, but never released it as a single. The Beatles were so impressed with Cocker’s version of this that they sent him a telegram of congratulations and placed an ad in the music papers praising it.
Jimmy Page played guitar, BJ Wilson from Procol Harum played drums, and a gospel choir sang background on this track.
Cocker sang his devotional version of this song at Woodstock, giving his career a huge boost. The 25-year-old Cocker, wore a tie-dyed T-shirt and was drenched in sweat throughout the performance, securing his reputation as an entertainer who would give his all on stage. This performance appears in the Woodstock documentary.
The Joe Cocker version was the theme song to the TV series The Wonder Years, starring Fred Savage. Not cleared to be used on Netflix in 2011.
When Cocker died in 2014 at age 70, Paul McCartney issued this statement regarding his version of this song: “It was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem, and I was forever grateful for him for having done that.”
12. Helter Skelter – U2, 1988 Rattle & Hum
This is a cover of the 1968 Beatles song. U2 recorded it live at McNichols arena in Denver on November 8, 1987.
Helter Skelter represented how they felt towards the end of their Joshua Tree tour. The demands of the film crews following them for the Rattle And Hum documentary and the rigors of the tour were wearing them down.
Bono introduced this by saying: “This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles, well we’re stealin’ it back.” Charles Manson’s followers wrote “Helter Skelter” in blood when they killed Sharon Tate and her friends. He interpreted the title as being about an imminent race war and apocalypse.
Paul McCartney wanted to write the “loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could” after reading a Pete Townshend interview describing a Who track (possibly “I Can See For Miles“) as “The most raucous rock ‘n’ roll, the dirtiest thing they’d ever done.” This was the result. Some historians of popular music now believe that this song was a key influence on the development of heavy metal.
13. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Devo. Originally released by the Rolling Stones in 1965. Otis Redding recorded this in 1966 at the behest of Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones, who were part of his backing band at Stax Record. Otis hadn’t heard the song, and he didn’t like it, so he did a radically different version of the song, using horns and changing many of the words. Using horns was what Keith Richards originally had in mind for the song, and he lauded Redding’s take. His version was one of the first British songs covered by a black artist; usually it was the other way around
NEW YORKER MAGAZINE:
“Devo had recorded an odd cover of the band’s hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”—so odd that their label said they needed Jagger’s blessing to release it. Mothersbaugh put the tape in a boom box and pressed Play. As the sounds of the cover filled the room, Jagger sat stone-faced. What he was hearing didn’t sound much like the “Satisfaction” he’d written. Keith Richards’s iconic riff was gone, and the original melody was nowhere to be found. Was this a homage, Mick must have wondered, or were they mocking him? “He was just looking down at the floor swirling his glass of red wine,” Casale recently remembered, adding, “He didn’t even have shoes on, just socks and some velour pants. I don’t know what his habits were then, but this was early afternoon and it looked like he had just gotten up.”
Casale said, of Jagger, “the sort of rooster-man dance he used to do, and saying”—he impersonated Jagger’s accent—“‘I like it, I like it.’ Mark and I lit up, big smiles on our faces, like in ‘Wayne’s World’: ‘We’re not worthy!’ To see your icon that you grew up admiring, that you had seen in concert, dancing around like Mick Jagger being Mick Jagger. It was unbelievable.”
“We were less than nothing,” Mothersbaugh said. “We were just these artists that nobody had ever heard of, from Akron, Ohio.”
To get gigs, they would lie to clubs and say they were a Top Forty covers band. Once promoters figured out that they were not, they were rarely invited back. One impediment to the band’s wider success was that, as far as Devo was concerned, Devo wasn’t a band at all but, rather, an art project, created to advance Casale’s theory of “de-evolution,” the concept that instead of evolving, society was in fact regressing (“de-evolving”) as humans embraced their baser instincts.
14. Take Me To the River- Talking Heads. Written by Al Green in 1974 – Gospel song that never charted for him. Talking Heads covered this song in 1979, taking it to #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. “We played it live in the studio,” bass player Tina Weymouth remembered. “It sounded so great when we played it back that we immediately imposed a rule on ourselves – no additional playing, except single notes. Just one ping or bop or pang.”
The Talking Heads version endured on Classic Rock radio; many listeners had no idea it was a cover song.
The Talking Heads version was a breakthrough for the band, whose only chart entry to that point was “Psycho Killer,” which reached #92. When their rendition of “Take Me To The River” became a modest hit, it earned them an invitation to perform the song on American Bandstand, giving them their first significant TV exposure.
In the liner notes for Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads, singer David Byrne writes: “Coincidence or conspiracy? There were at least four cover versions of this song out at the same time: Foghat, Bryan Ferry, Levon Helm, and us. More money for Mr Green’s full gospel tabernacle church, I suppose. A song that combines teenage lust with baptism. Not equates, you understand, but throws them in the same stew, at least. A potent blend. All praise the mighty spurtin’ Jesus.” Live versions were included on Talking Heads’ albums The Name of This Band is Talking Heads and Stop Making Sense. A live version was played at the end credits of the 1998 film A Civil Action.
15. Ain’t That A Shame – Cheap Trick, 1978 Live at Budokan
Original by Fats Domino, 1955. Cheap Trick’s 1978 cover went to #35 in the US and helped make their At Budokan album a huge hit. A portion of the first guitar solo in their version, played by Rick Nielsen, is lifted from the opening harmonica riff from the Beatles’ “Please Please Me.” That same riff is also used in the guitar outro to the track “The House is Rockin’ (Domestic Problems)” from the band’s 1980 album Dream Police.
According to Nielsen, Cheap Trick got the idea to record the song after hearing John Lennon’s 1975 cover version.
16. Ring of Fire – Social Distortion
Johnny Cash, been covered a ton of times.
June Carter has the writing credits and originally stated wrote the lyrics about her relationship with Johnny Cash. She felt being around Cash was like being in a “ring of fire.” Cash was involved in drugs and had a very volatile lifestyle. When she wrote this, both June and Johnny were married
In her autobiography I Walked the Line, Johnny Cash’s first wife, Vivian Cash, denies that June Carter had any part in writing “Ring of Fire.” In her words: “She didn’t write that song any more than I did. The truth is, Johnny wrote that song, while pilled up and drunk, about a certain private female body part.”
Definitely a punk version…Mike Ness states that Johnny Cash was a huge inspiration to Social Distortion.
17. I Fought The Law – The Clash, Combat Rock 1979
Sticking with Punk Covers.
Written By the Sonny Curtis of the Crickets.
In mid-1978, the Clash were working on their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope. Singer Joe Strummer and guitarist Mick Jones flew to San Francisco to record overdubs in September–October at the Automatt studio. The owner of the Automatt kept his collection of classic jukeboxes distributed around the various rooms of the studio complex. Strummer and Jones listened to the Bobby Fuller version of “I Fought the Law” for the first time on one of the jukeboxes, and by the time they returned to England, they could perform the song.
Their version first appeared on the EP The Cost of Living in May 1979 in the UK and then later in 1979 was made part of the American edition of the Clash’s eponymous album. This cover version helped gain the Clash their first taste of airplay in the States and is one of the best-known cover versions of the song. The live recording of the song, performed at the Lyceum Theatre, West End, London, on December 28, 1978, features as the last piece of the 1980 film Rude Boy directed by Jack Hazan and David Mingay. The Clash were dressed all in black for that gig, and the song, at that stage, was considered the film’s title song. On July 26, 1979, “I Fought the Law” was the first single by the band to be released in the United States.
Other groups who covered this include Social Distortion and Green Day
18. Me and Bobby Mc Gee – Janis Joplin, Pearl 1970
This was written by Kris Kristofferson, who has written hundreds of songs for a wide variety of artists. Kristofferson would become a successful solo artist and appear in several movies, but it was Janis Joplin’s hit cover of this song that brought his career to the next level. “‘Bobby McGee’ was the song that made the difference for me,” he told Performing Songwriter in 2015. “Every time I sing it, I still think of Janis.”
Kris Kristofferson released this in 1970 on his first album, Kristofferson. A year later, when it became a hit for Joplin, Kristofferson’s album was re-released as Me And Bobby McGee to take advantage of the song’s new popularity.
This was released after Joplin died of a heroin overdose. Her death gave the album a lot of attention, and Pearl went to #1. It was the second song to hit #1 in the US after the artist had died; “Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding was the first.
Kristofferson performed an acoustic version of this song when Joplin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013. Kristofferson, who had a brief affair with Joplin, recalled hearing her rendition on the day of her death. He explained to Rolling Stone magazine: “Her producer gave me the record and it was pretty hard to listen to. I was listening to it at my publisher’s office where we used to hang out, there was nobody there and I was playing it over and over again just so I could hear it without breaking up.
19. You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Vanilla Fudge, 1968
Originally performed by Supremes and written for them specifically.
Vanilla Fudge recorded a successful cover version that hit #6 US in 1968. Fudge drummer Carmine Appice explained in a Songfacts interview: “In 1966, when I joined the band, there was a thing going around the New York area and Long Island that was basically slowing songs down, making production numbers out of them and putting emotion into them. The Vagrants were doing it, they had Leslie West in the band. The Rich Kids were doing it, they had this writer named Richard Supa. The Hassles were doing it, they had Billy Joel. It all started from The Rascals, I think. We were all looking for songs that were hits and could be slowed down with emotion put into them. ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ lyrically was a hurtin’ kind of song, and when The Supremes did it, it was like a happy song. We tried to slow down the song and put the emotion the song should have into it with the hurtin’ kind of feeling the song should have.”
20. Renegades of Funk – Rage Against The Machine, 2000
This is a tribute to various revolutionary American leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
This was released on election day: November 7, 2000. George W. Bush was the winner, giving the band much more to rage against.
The pioneering rap group Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force wrote this song and were the first to record it. They released it as a single in 1983.
This was the first single from Renegades, which also contains covers of songs by The Stooges, The Rolling Stones, MC5, and Devo.