The Original vs. The Cover – “Valerie”

For this month’s version of The Original vs. The Cover we are going to discuss a song that was covered only a year after the original and a little more current.  We are talking about the song “Valerie” written by the band The Zutons in 2006 and then released by Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse and a third version was released by Amy Winehouse as a B-Side for her Back to Black album.  The song first appeared on the Zutons second album, ‘Tired of Hanging Around’, in 2006.

The song has been revealed to be about a young lady named Valerie Star who is a celebrity make-up artists.  She is friends with Zutons frontman Dave McCabe and he wrote this to her as a way to show her support when she got in to a little trouble for driving under the influence.  Apparently, the song took 20 minutes to write and he was inspired to write it in a cab ride on his way to his mom’s house.

The song for The Zutons hit #8 in Scotland and #9 in the UK, but never charted in the US.  The cover version with Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse hit #1 in the UK R&B Charts and #2 in the UK Charts so it was a little more successful. Amy’s solo version in 2008 hit only at #37 so it was the least popular, but is it the best version?  We will see.

THE ZUTONS

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The Zutons song is a light hearted indie pop sounding song. It is a fun, upbeat track with some great guitar tone to it. There is a little musical break with just a drum beat, hand claps and Dave on vocals that is a nice touch to the song to give it some variety. Dave’s vocals are little squeaky at times, but still very pleasant. It has a calming, sensitive feel to it like he really cares for Valerie and he wants he to come over and he’ll take care of her during her troubling times.

MARK RONSOON (FEATURING AMY WINEHOUSE)

Mark Ronson’s version of the song is more upbeat than The Zutons. The tempo is sped up and the production of the song is from the 1982 song called “Town Called Malice” by The Jam. There is a horn section and it is has a little blues, a lot of pop and a nice beat throughout. Amy’s vocals have the same old Amy sound, but not as jazzy as she can get and a lot more on the pop side. The song even has a little dance vibe to it.

AMY WINEHOUSE

Amy Winehouse’s solo version is nothing short of pure Amy. It was recorded Live at BBC Radio 1 in 2007. It is jazzier version with keyboards and a more acoustic feel. It has more heart and feeling and Amy’s voice is like no one else’s at that time and it sounds so classic. There is such a maturity to her vocals, she seems so seasoned like she has been through a lot and carries that weight in her vocals. A utter talent.

THE VERDICT

Picking a winner here is easy for me. Amy Winehouse’s solo version is tops for me. Not beating around the bush here. I really dug her vocals and when you put her in the jazz and blues setting she can’t be touched. The other songs are fun and more pop, but don’t have the heart her vocals bring. Now Dave McCabe of The Zutons hates the fact that Mark Ronson & Amy Winehouse’s version were so popular because people tend to forget it was really his song. It truly bothers him. I am sure when that check comes, it bothers him a little less.

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.

“Valerie”

Well sometimes I go out by myself and I look across the water
And I think of all the things, what you’re doing and in my head I make a picture

‘Cos since I’ve come on home, well my body’s been a mess
And I’ve missed your ginger hair and the way you like to dress
Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of me
Why won’t you come on over Valerie, Valerie?

Did you have to go to jail, put your house on up for sale, did you get a good lawyer?
I hope you didn’t catch a tan, I hope you find the right man who’ll fix it for you
Are you shopping anywhere, changed the colour of your hair, are you busy?
And did you have to pay the fine you were dodging all the time are you still dizzy?

Yeah

‘Cos since I’ve come on home, well my body’s been a mess
And I’ve missed your ginger hair and the way you like to dress
Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of me
Why won’t you come on over Valerie, Valerie.Valerie,Valerie?

Well sometimes I go out by myself and I look across the water
And I think of all the things, what you’re doing and in my head I make a picture’

Cos since I’ve come on home, well my body’s been a mess
And I’ve missed your ginger hair and the way you like to dress
Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of me
Why won’t you come on over Valerie, Valerie.Valerie,Valerie?

Yeah valerie

Written by Dave McCabe, Russell Pritchard, Sean Payne, Abi Harding, Paul Molloy and Boyan Chowdhury

The Original vs. The Cover – “Stop Your Sobbing”

This month’s The Original Vs. The Cover is tackling another Kink’s song.  I must be a glutton for punishment because the last time I did a Kink’s song, I was blasted by the Kink’s fans for not picking the Kink’s song.  Their fans are rabid, no doubt!!  Will I make the same mistake again…we will see shortly!

This month’s song is the Kink’s deep cut classic called “Stop Your Sobbing”.  The song is off the band’s 1964 debut album simple called “Kinks”. There are two stories about the song and it’s origin, but both similar.  The first is that Ray Davies’ girlfriend was so upset that they were becoming famous that she broke down in tears as she was worried she would lose him.  The second is that  Ray broke up with his girlfriend and she was so upset, she started crying and it pissed him off.  Either way, she lost him!!  I am sure those rabid Kinks fans will let me know the right story.

The Pretenders covered the song for their own debut album, ‘The Pretenders’, and had some decent success with it hitting the Top 40 in the UK, but only the Top 100 in the US.  The coolest thing to come out of the song was that singer, Chrissie Hynde got to meet Ray Davies as a result of them singing the song.  A budding relationship started between the two which actually led to a child.  I would say they both got a lot out of it.

Now, let’s get to the songs… Continue reading “The Original vs. The Cover – “Stop Your Sobbing””

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””