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).

The song is a ballad, full of synthesizers, high pitched vocals, some nice guitar work and is really 80’s AOR at its best.  It opens with a piano accompaniment and then Tom Kelly gives us such a beautiful vocal performance.  It is understated and well polished.  If anything, the song highlights the writing talents of these two as this song is clinic on how to write a great song.  It has a little bit of everything you need in a good song including a guitar solo.  This was the 80’s.

HEART

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When Tom and Billy found out Heart was looking for a song, they pulled this one out of drawer and decided to tweak a few things.  First, they changed the first line of the chorus from “I always fared well on my own” to ‘Til now, I always got by on my own” as Tom didn’t like the flow.  They also tweaked it to be a little more R&B and then re-recorded a demo and submitted to Ron Nevison.  And luckily for us, it was accepted.

Heart took the song to #1 without making many changes.  They had the same piano opening and Ann Wilson comes in quiet and understated with her vocals until she blows it out with her power and they turn the song from only a ballad to a pure 80’s power ballad!  It still had the synthesizers, but the drumming was much more dramatic (by Denny Carmassi).  The high harmonies in the song were actually sung by Tom Kelly himself when he and Billy came in to meet the band while they were recording which is a cool bonus on the song.

There is one cool point in Heart’s version around the second chorus.  Ron Nevison had Ann pause a little bit before the second chorus and wanted her to ad lib a little.  She did and came out with this Robert Plan scream that really added an extra punch to the song and helped take it to #1.

THE VERDICT

The verdict is where I have to make a decision on which song I like the best and sometimes it is so difficult.  This isn’t one of them.  Although the i-Ten version is fantastic, you can’t beat the power of Ann Wilson’s voice.  She is one of the best vocalist in rock, period. Heart’s version sounds a little less dated then i-Ten’s version, but it is the power portion of the ballad that I love so much.  The Ann scream and the more dramatic feel of the overall song is what pushes their version to the top for me.

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.

“ALONE”

I hear the ticking of the clock
I’m lying here, the room’s pitch dark
I wonder where you are tonight
No answer on the telephone
And the night goes by so very slow
Oh, I hope that it won’t end though
Alone
I always fared well on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone?
You don’t know how long I have wanted
To touch your lips and hold you tight
You don’t know how long I have waited
And I was going to tell you tonight
But the secret is still my own
And my love for you is still unknown
Alone
I always fared well on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone?
Tell me, how do I get you alone?
How do I get you alone?
Tell me, how do I get you alone?
Alone, alone
I hear the ticking of the clock
I’m lying here, the room’s pitch dark
Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly

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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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.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Blinded By the Light”

For this edition of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are going to explore the Bruce Springsteen song “Blinded by the Light” which was later covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. For Bruce, it was his first single in the U.S. off his 1973 debut album, Greeting From Asbury Park, N.J.  And…it flopped!  Manfred Mann’s version was released in 1977 and went all the way to #1 and I believe it was Bruce’s first #1 song and his only. It took someone performing his song for him to get a #1 song…interesting considering how much he is acclaimed as being The Boss.

The song was very auto-biographical for Bruce.  There were a ton of references to friends, his youth experiences and even him getting sick.  The song came about because the record company felt he needed a single.  So, sitting in his bedroom with a rhyming dictionary, Bruce threw so many words together and came up with this beast.  He went nuts with the words and threw everything in, but I don’t see the kitchen sink.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

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As I said, the song flopped in the U.S. and it was probably because it had so many words.  No person listening to the radio could remember all the words.  The chorus was catchy, no doubt, but it is a difficult song to get in to with the way it is presented.  Bruce vocals are done in a singing / speaking format rather than full on singing which is typical Bruce.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Africa”

For this version of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are covering a fairly new cover of the song Africa by Weezer compared to the original by Toto.  The Weezer cover has brought Weezer back in to the news, but it has also brought the band Toto to a whole new generation of music lovers which is always a good thing.

The song was written by David Paich and Jeff Pocaro of the band Toto and released back in 1982.  David came up with the song after watching a documentary about all the suffering in Africa.  It moved him, but so did the pictures of such a beautiful continent.  The song is a love song, but love for a place and not an actual romance.  The song did really well for the band and hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and #3 in the UK.

Now, 35+ odd years later, a fan on twitter kept asking Weezer to record a cover of the song which they did not do.  They did a cover of the song “Rosanna” to troll the people begging for a cover.  However, a few months later, the band finally released a cover of the song.  Their version only went to #51 on the Billboard Hot 100, but much higher on other charts.  To make it even better, Toto went on and released a cover version of “Hash Pipe” by Weezer,  We are not going to cover that song here.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “New York Groove”

For this month’s version of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are tackling the 70’s hit, “New York Groove” that was made famous by Ace Frehley on his solo album in 1978.  However, the song was originally performed by the Glam band Hello back in 1974.  The song was written by Russ Ballard and if you don’t know Russ, he was in the band Argent, went solo, and was a songwriter who has worked with America, Roger Daltrey, Peter Criss, and Frehley’s Comet to name a few.

The Hello song did pretty well in the UK hitting #9 and #7 in Germany.  Ace’s version was the highest charting song of any of the Kiss Solo albums where it peaked at #13 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Russ Ballard wrote the phrase “back in the New York Groove” while on a plane headed to New York where he hadn’t been in a long while.  So, that became the theme of the song and eventually he would finish the song.

HELLO

Hello connected with Russ while he was in the UK and the band’s manager had reached out to Russ asking if he had any songs the band could use and boom, you get “New York Groove”.

Hello’s version opens with a hand clap sound (maybe a stomping/clapping sound), a harmonica riff and a great drum beat.  Right before the chorus, there is nice little guitar riff and speaking of chorus, the way they emphasized the word “Groove” in New York Groove was unusual and made it stand out.  It definitely has that 70’s feel to it and Bob Bradbury does a great job with the vocals.  It is actually a very fun song and I can see why they had a minor hit with it.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Welcome to another edition of The Original Vs. The Cover.  This time we are going to compare the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” to the original and the best cover of the song.  The Original was performed by the band The Family and the Cover was famously performed by Sinead O’Connor.  The song was written by Prince and he did perform this song in 1984 or so and it was finally released in 2018 so I can’t count that as the original since it wasn’t released before The Family’s version.  Prince did release a version with Rosie Gaines in 1993 which was again after both versions

The Family? What?  You never heard of them?  Not surprising.  The band was a creation of Prince as another outlet for HIS music to be released.  He was very controlling and involved in every aspect other than singing and performing.  As a result, after they released 1 album, 2 singles (which this song was not one) and after only 1 show, the lead singer, Paul Peterson aka. St. Paul, quit.  He felt Prince was too controlling and he felt restricted.

THE FAMILY

The Family’s version was never released as a single and you probably never heard this version before.  I hadn’t until I decided to do this song for the post.  I had trouble finding it and only found it on that Tube of You.

The is very stripped down.  It is mostly an organ playing with horns and keyboards.  No percussion whatsoever.  Paul Peterson’s vocals are really great and the backing vocals of Susannah Melvoin played nicely with Paul’s vocals. Paul had a haunting, painful feel to them which the song seems to have a lot of pain.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Respect”

For this installment of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are discussing the classic Aretha Franklin song “Respect” which is actually a cover of the song originally written and performed by Otis Redding just two years earlier.  The Otis Redding song was written for Speedo Sims and his band the Singing Demons, but they were unable to find the sound they liked and so Otis decided to sing the song.

The song came out in 1965 and went to the Top 5 on the Black Charts, but actually crossed-over to the pop charts where it reached #35.  It was one of a couple songs that crossed-over for Otis.  The Redding version is about a man’s plea to his woman to show him some respect for bringing home the bacon.  He could care less if she does him wrong, but just wants his due from her.

OTIS REDDING

In looking through his roster of musicians, he had a couple that stood out for me.  There were two keyboard players on the song, one goes by the name Booker T. Jones and the other is Isaac Hayes.  The rest of the band were all Booker T. & the MG’s band members except for the horn section, they were not part of Booker’s band.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”

For this version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are covering the classic song “I Love Rock & Roll” by The Arrows and by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.  We are not going to explore the cover by Britney Spears because, well it is Britney Spears and so not worthy!

The song was written by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker of the band The Arrows back in 1975 and when it was released, it ran into a run of bad luck and never amounted to much on the charts thanks in part to a Paper Strike and no news was printed around its release.  The song itself was a reaction to the Rolling Stones song “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)” according to an interview Merrill had with Songfacts.com…

“That was a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones’ ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll.’ I remember watching it on Top of the Pops. I’d met Mick Jagger socially a few times, and I knew he was hanging around with Prince Rupert Lowenstein and people like that – jet setters. I almost felt like ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’ was an apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was hanging around with – the aristocracy, you know. That was my interpretation as a young man: Okay, I love rock and roll. And then, where do you go with that?”

The band would play this song on Top of the Pops in 1976 and it was at that time, a young lady by the name of Joan Jett heard it while she was touring her band The Runaways.  She decided she wanted to record it, but The Runaways didn’t want to cover it so when she went solo, she recorded it herself.

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