The Original vs. The Cover – “It’s My Life”

For this episode of ‘The Original vs. The Cover”, we are discussing the song “It’s My Life” by the band Talk Talk and the cover by No Doubt.  Both were big hits for the respective bands with Talk Talk’s version going to #31 on the Billboard Charts while the No Doubt version went as high as #10 and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal…they didn’t win.

“It’s My Life” came about due to Mark Hollis’ wanting to assert his independence from his record label and because he didn’t want to be swayed by the popular public opinion.  He wanted to do things his own way.  The song was his manifesto that it is his life and he will do what he wants to know, not what anyone tells him to do.  The song performed well enough in the states that it actually earned him enough freedom to do things his way going forward.  And I don’t remember them doing much else in the States after this.  How’d that work out for you Mark???

No Doubt was on a slight break as Gwen was recording here debut solo album, but they wanted to get some material out so they thought of putting out a greatest hits album.  They wanted to a new song on it, but didn’t want to take time to write a new song.  So they narrowed the prospects of 100’s of songs down to “It’s My Life” and the INXS song “Don’t Change”…we see which one won out or we wouldn’t be discussing this song right now would we.  Let’ get to the music.

TALK TALK

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Talk Talk’s song “It’s My Life” is a heavy synthesizer song as that is what type of music they played.  They were part of the New Wave of music that was going on in the early 80’s along with band’s like Duran Duran and other two name bands.  It is not a real happy, upbeat song.  It has a slow groove driven by a bass riff and electronic drum beats bathed in synth sounds including some synth horns. It is not meant to be a pure dance song as it is expressing a person’s independence.  It has a serious feel to the song, a warmth.

Mark Hollis doesn’t sing with gusto or scream out the lyrics, he sings with a darkness to his vocals.  His delivery is a little monotone at times and a little dreary, an almost dreamlike state as he spews his thoughts and feelings out about how this is his life and don’t you forget it.  It is an interesting delivery which evokes power and I think quite effective.

NO DOUBT

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No Doubt doesn’t change too much on the song.  The song still is a lot of electronic synths with just a more updated sound for the 21st Century.  It seems to be a little more uptempo.  The high pitched blips and beeps of the original are not here, but there is more cool electronic bass riff on occasion and the drum beats are so simple and yet just what the song needs.  They keep the darker feel to the song and it still has that serious vibe that they have something important to say.

Gwen’s vocal delivery is quite different, mainly as she is a woman, but she sings with a little more gusto, especially on the chorus.  She has an almost whiny, slight nasally sound to her vocals.  The is ‘no doubt’ that Gwen has the chops to turn the song in to a song that feels like it is No Doubt while being so true and honest to the original.

THE VERDICT

This was a tough choice as I’m really not a fan of either song.  I don’t own any Talk Talk album and as far as No Doubt, once I heard “Hellagood” and “Hey Baby”, there was nothing from them that would be remotely as good.  But since I picked this song to discuss, I will pick a best song of the two. I am going to go with Mark Hollis’ version with his band Talk Talk.  The reason is the song meant something to them.  It was a manifesto.  They wanted to do things their way and not be force fed instructions from a label.  No Doubt already had that so the heart wasn’t there.  So Talk Talk and the Original win out this go round.

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.

“It’s My Life”

Funny how I find myself in love with you
If I could buy my reasoning I’d pay to lose
One half won’t do
I’ve asked myself, how much do you
Commit yourself

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
It’s my life
It never ends (it never ends)

Funny how I blind myself, I never knew
If I was sometimes played upon, afraid to lose
I’d tell myself, what good do you do
Convince myself

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
It’s my life
It never ends (it never ends)

I’ve asked myself, how much do you
Commit yourself?

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends
 
Written by Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene

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. Continue reading “The Original vs The Cover vs The Cover – “Tainted Love””

The Original vs. The Cover – “Wonderwall”

For this month’s This Original vs The Cover is the song “Wonderwall” originally by the band Oasis.  The song was released in October 1995 and on the band’s album ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’. The song did really well and went to #8 in the U.S. and #1 in several countries and charts.  The cover version we are battling with is Ryan Adam’s cover which was released back in 2003 on his album ‘Love is Hell, pt 1’ EP.

The song was written by Noel Gallagher and was originally titled “Wishing Stone.  There is a little mix up on who and what the song is about.  Originally the thought was the song was about his girlfriend at the time Meg Mathews who later became his wife and then even later became his ex-wife.  It was after that divorce that the story of the song changed.  It was no longer about his ex-wife, it was now about an imaginary person or friend that shows up and helps you save you from yourself.  Ok.  Noel has stated that it was the media’s fault for the confusion and once it was out in the universe he didn’t want to spoil it for his girlfriend/wife.  But now that they are divorced, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

That is enough backstory.  Let’s get to the song and we will start with the original version as well always do, no need to change now.

OASIS

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The Original vs. The Cover – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to talk about the Brinsley Schwarz song “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”.  The song was written by Nick Lowe and was recorded by his band Brinsley Schwarz.  It was released in 1974 album called ‘The New Favorites of…Brinsley Schwarz.

How Elvis Costello got a hold of it is the fact that Nick Lowe was the producer of his 1979 album ‘Armed Forces’.  Nick introduced him to the song and the band recorded it for the B-Side of Nick Lowe’s single “American Squirm”.  The song did so well, the slapped it on as the last track of the album for the North American release of the album.

Nick wrote the song in 1973 and it was supposed to be a joke song making fun of the hippie generation coming out of their dream like state and becoming a more cynical bunch.  What he realized later was there actually is a bit of truth and wisdom in the song.

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”

For this month’s The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to cover the classic 80’s pop song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”.  The original is by Robert Hazard who wrote the song and the cover we are going to use is Cyndi Lauper’s.  I know, you thought that was her original song, didn’t you?  Nope.  Not hers.  I guess an argument could be made that Cyndi’s is not really a cover since Robert’s song was only a demo and never released and I can see that argument, but I am ignoring for that so I have a post.

Robert Hazard wrote the song in 20 minutes while taking a shower in a motel. I guess you listen whenever inspiration strikes.  He made a demo in 1979, but the demo never went anywhere.  That was until Cyndi’s producer, Rick Chertoff, remembered hearing the song and took her to meet Mr. Hazard.  After meeting, Cyndi wanted to do the song and Robert allowed her to tweak a few lyrics to fit the song coming from a woman’s perspective as the original is taken from a man’s perspective.

Robert’s version comes from a guys point of view and talking about what he wants to do with girls and that they really want to have “fun” in the sleazy sort of way.  Cyndi of course turns it as she is the one one out late getting in to trouble because she and all girls want to have fun. It became more a feminist anthem and is now so recognizable as Cyndi’s song since she truly made it her own.

ROBERT HAZARD

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Hard to Handle”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are tackling the Otis Redding song “Hard to Handle”.  Otis wrote and recorded the song along with Al Bell and Allen Jones back in 1967.  Otis died in December 1967 before the song was ever released.  It finally was released in June 1968, but not as the main single.  It was the B-Side to the single “Amen”. The song did chart though as it reached #51 on the Pop Charts and got to #38 on the Billboard R&B charts.  It was a modest hit. The song first appeared on an album in 1968 which was a compilation called ‘The Immortal Otis Redding’.

The song’s theme is pretty obvious.  It is about a man that is so cocky and braggadocios about his sexual prowess that he is coming on to women who already have themselves a man.  I mean he gets cockier and cockier as the song goes on. It is a really cool piece for Otis to write and sing as his earlier work did not come across that way.

OTIS REDDING

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Otis Redding’s original version of the song was a departure for him.  He seemed to be experimenting with a new sound.  He brought a whole James Brown funk feel to the song from the opening piano riffs, the big horn section and that driving bass line. It is quite a departure from “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”.  The song is short at just over 2 minutes, but it packs enough greatness in to that time that you don’t realize it is so short. Continue reading “The Original vs. The Cover – “Hard to Handle””

The Original vs. The Cover – “Alone”

For this edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to discuss the song “Alone” by the band i-Ten.  What?  You never heard of them.  Honestly, neither had I, but you know their songs as bands from the 80’s covered a ton of their songs including bands like Honeymoon Suite, REO Speedwagon, Juice Newton and most notable they had success with songs such as “Like a Virgin”, “So Emotional”, “True Colors” and “Eternal Flame.  They weren’t really a band, it was a writing duo of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly who made up the band i-Ten.  It was that success that Heart decided to cover their song “Alone”.

The song’s theme is simple.  It is about a person who is in love with another and they are struggling to get them alone to tell them how they feel.  It is possible it is an unrequited love, but he/she won’t know until they tell them how much they want them.  We’ve all been there before.

i-TEN

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I will admit, I never have heard this version before I decided to do this post.  The song didn’t do very well for the band as their song and was put aside and basically forgotten. The song is a pure 80’s.  It is a little dated in its sound today, but you can hear how good of a song it really is.  It is surprising it didn’t do anything for them, but then again, they were not a well-known act and getting on the radio was difficult (or even MTV). Continue reading “The Original vs. The Cover – “Alone””

The Original vs. The Cover – “Come Together”

For this version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to discuss a Beatle’s Song, “Come Together”.  I have always been nervous about talking about the Beatles because it is holy ground and plus what hasn’t already been said about them.  However, I love this song and there are some great versions out there and I thought it was about time I did something on them. So we are going to compare the two versions of “Come Together”, the Beatles and Aerosmith.  Two heavy weights in the music world.

“Come Together” came about because Timothy Leary wanted Lennon to write a campaign song for him off this phrase, but Lennon was unsuccessful and a good thing to as Leary’s campaign run for California governor came to an abrupt end when he was arrested for pot possession (hell, he would be celebrated today).  He might have been unsuccessful with the campaign song, but he did succeed with this version of the song.

An interesting story behind the song, Lennon was sued by Big Seven Music Group which was the publisher of Chuck Berry’s song “You Can’t Catch Me”.  They argued that the song was too similar to the Berry song and I am guessing the lawsuit had some merit as the band settled out of court.  Now there are no writing credits other than Lennon & McCartney on this song still today so it must have been all about the money up front.  Too bad they didn’t fight for a writing credit.

THE BEATLES

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Continue reading “The Original vs. The Cover – “Come Together””

The Original vs. The Cover – “Radar Love”

For our next edition of ‘The Original vs. The Cover’, we are going to cover the classic driving song “Radar Love” by the band Golden Earring.  The song was released in 1973 and was the only U.S. single off their album ‘Moontan’.  The song did very well and went as high as #13 on Billboard, but went Top 10 in numerous other countries including the UK and Canada.

The song was written by George Kooymans and Barry Hay of the band.  It is about a guy that feels so he is so connected with this girl that it is like telepathy.  He calls it “Radar Love”.  She wants him so badly that he is trying so hard to get home as fast as he can and he is driving so fast and so recklessly to get there.  As a result, this song is considered one of the Top Driving songs of all time.  I can attest to that fact.  It does makes you want to drive fast.

Now, I have also heard that the “Radar” part is really the use of CB Radio and she was calling over the CB for him to get home because she was lonely.  Either way it works.  Now there is a line that says “And the newsman sang his same song / One more radar love is gone” which makes think that when he passed that last car in the lyrics, he was killed in a car crash which I never picked up on before.  Gives it an interesting twist if true.

Now let’s get to the song…

GOLDEN EARRING

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Dazed & Confused”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. the Cover, we are going to discuss the Jake Holmes song “Dazed and Confused” that was later covered (or stolen) by Led Zeppelin.  The Jake Holmes song was released in 1967. Jimmy Page heard this song when Jake’s band and Jimmy Page’s band The Yardbirds were on the same bill.  Jimmy took the song and made several changes to it and performed it with the Yardbirds.  However, it didn’t get recorded until 1968 with Pages new band Led Zeppelin.

I say stole, because Page didn’t credit Holmes as the songwriter with the Led Zeppelin release.  Page felt he had made enough changes to the song that he didn’t need to credit Mr. Holmes.  And for the longest time Holmes did nothing until 2010 when he finally filed suit against Page.  The lawsuit never made it to court as it was eventually settled out of court.  Now, when the song is on an album that is newly released from Zeppelin it says…inspired by Jake Holmes.

Enough of the dirty music business.  Let us focus on the song and which version is better.  We will start as we usually do with the Original and then discuss the Cover ending with a wonderful Verdict of which one I like more.  And away we go…

 

JAKE HOLMES

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The song was recorded in 1967 for Jake’s debut album, ‘The Above Ground Sound”. It was recorded as a trio with only an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar and a bass.  No drums!!  And honestly, you don’t miss them.  The song is a trippy, psychedelic wonder.  The song feels like a bad acid trip, full of paranoia and god knows what.  Holmes at one time said it was about a girl and that can be true because women have dazed and confused men for centuries.

Continue reading “The Original vs. The Cover – “Dazed & Confused””