The Original vs The Cover vs The Cover – “Tainted Love”

The Original Vs The Cover choice for this month is one that will tackle three separate artists on the song “Tainted Love”.  The original was performed by Gloria Jones way back in May of 1965 and was written in 1964 by Ed Cobb and arranged by Lincoln Mayorga.  The song was originally a B-Side for Gloria’s failed single “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home” so it never charted unlike the covers.

The song was about a girl that Ed was seeing and the whole relationship was plain toxic.  He wanted to take the song from the girls point of view which is why the song was offered to a lady to sing.  According to Ed, once he came up with the words “tainted love” the song basically wrote itself from that point forward.

The covers were both done by male vocalist thus changing up the point of view. The first cover is by New Wave 80’s band Soft Cell who went all the way to #1 in several countries and #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.  Their version was released in 1981.  2o years we would see another successful version of the song this time done by Shock Rocker Marilyn Manson.  His version didn’t do as well, but charted through-out the world reaching # 1 in Portugal!!.  All three versions have something to offer so let’s see who has the best one.

GLORIA JONES

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The original version by Gloria Jones is an uptempo fun, Motown styled song.  The song is full of horns, guitars and drums as well as female backing vocals.  This was 1964 and the song sounds like it.  The Motown influence is front and center and Gloria’s vocals fit the song perfectly. There is a great upbeat tempo and the addition of the horns actually make it a fun sounding song which is why the song didn’t do well originally as it didn’t fit the lyrics.

The song found popularity again in the 70’s thanks to a UK DJ named Richard Serling.  The song was re-recorded and turned more in to a 70’s funk sound with the added guitar elements. The sound was known as “Northern Soul’ in the UK and there was a whole club scene around that scene.  It still was never a big hit though no matter which version.  I am going to base any decision after the original 60’s more motown sound.

SOFT CELL

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Soft Cell’s Marc Almond came across the song and loved it so he and his band set out and recorded it.  They changed the a lot is an understatement.  It was now from a guy’s point of view and since this was now the 80’s, he brought it in to the 80’s by taking it full on New Wave adding synthesizers and a lot of them.  The only instruments were now the synths and rhythm machines, no actual horns, drums or guitar.

That wasn’t the only thing he changed, he slowed it down a little and even changed the key from C to G to fit his vocal abilities.  With his vocals, he turned the song to be a little more darker and now the lyrics fit the mood of the song.  The was a huge hit and made Soft Cell a one-hit wonder here in the States as I couldn’t name another song they have done.  But I like one-hit wonders.

MARILYN MANSON

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20 years after Soft Cell, Marilyn Manson grabbed hold of the song and turned it in to his own beast.  The song was originally on the soundtrack to ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ as well as a bonus track on ‘The Golden Age of Grotesque’.  The basis for Marilyn’s version is actually based off the Soft Cell version and not just the guy point of view.  He kept the electronic bits, but this being Marilyn it was a more industrial metal sound.

If you thought Marc’s version was dark, hello…Marilyn took it about is dark as you could get.  The shock rocker had me worried he was going to kill the girl.  The metallic sound of the electronics really made the song a little frightening.  Marilyn’s screaming vocals at times were both eerie and almost psychotic and made me think maybe it was him that was toxic and not her!!

THE VERDICT

I have to say it was a harder choice than I expected.  Each song has elements I like, but it really goes off which one do I think represents the song the best. Gloria’s version is fantastic with the Motown vibes, but the song is too upbeat for the topic for me.  Marilyn’s version just takes it way too far the opposite direction and makes it way too dark.  So for me, that leaves Soft Cell as the version I would pick as the best.  Although, the all synthesizers is a little much, it has just enough darker feel and the slowed down tempo strikes all the chords that makes me really dig the lyrics of the song and the song overall.

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

“Tainted Love”

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
Run away, I’ve got to
Get away from the pain you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I’ve lost my right
For I toss and turn, I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I run from you (Now I run)
The tainted love you’re giving
I gave you all a girl can give you
Take not give and that’s not nearly all
Tainted love (Oh)
Tainted love

Now I know I’ve got to
Run away, I’ve got to
Get away, you don’t really want any love from me
To make things right
You need someone to hold you tight
And who think love is to pray
Well I’m sorry, I don’t pray that way

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I run from you (Now I run)
The tainted love you’re giving
I gave you all a girl can give you
Take not give and that’s not nearly all
Tainted love (Oh)
Tainted love

Don’t touch me please
I cannot stand the way you (Tease)
I know you will hurt me so
If I do not pack my things and go (Oh)

Tainted love (Oh)
Oh, tainted love (Oh)
Tainted love, oh
Tainted love (Oh)

Written by Ed Cobb

17 thoughts on “The Original vs The Cover vs The Cover – “Tainted Love”

  1. Soft Cell are from my home city (Or at least met at University here). Interesting fact – they put The Supremes Where Did Our Love Go on the b-side and as consequence earned pretty much nothing in royalties from one of the year’s biggest selling hits, at well over a million copies….

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  2. I always thought this was a Soft Cell original. Synth driven music has never been my deal but if I had to pick I would pick Soft Cells as I heard it more than enough in the 80s!

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  3. Great blog! Would be great to get your thoughts (I have my own) on several other covers vs. originals, such as:
    “I’ve done everything for you.” Sammy Hagar version against Rick Springfield.
    “Superstition.” Stevie Wonder version against Stevie Ray Vaughan.
    “Dust my broom.” Elmore James version against ZZ Top.
    “Mustang Sally.” Wilson Picket version against Buddy Guy.
    “Can’t explain.” The Who version against The Scorpions.
    “Poker Face.” Lady Gaga version against Adam Lambert. (Just kidding! Wanted to see if you were paying attention. Both versions and both singers make me want to vomit).

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    1. Thanks so much. For the first two, I can’t tell you as they are actually on my list of songs to do so that opinion will be coming in the next few months. “Can’t Explain”…The Who!!! “Mustang Sally”…tough call I really only know the ZZTop version so that is my choice for now. “Superstition”…Stevie of course!! Oh wait, they are both Stevie…Wonder!!! 🙂 And lastly, I actually love both Gaga and Lambert, but I hate this song. I saw Adam with Queen and that was one of the best shows I have seen in years. He is really talented.

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