The Original vs The Cover – “Black Magic Woman”

When you hear the song title “Black Magic Woman”, most people immediately associate the song with Santana and that is because they have the most famous version of the song.  However, their version is actually a cover version.  I did not know that until a short time ago when I discovered that the original was performed by Fleetwood Mac two years earlier.  My world was rocked as I had no idea.  I don’t know if life will ever be the same.

The song was written by Peter Green who was the original singer for the Fleetwood Mac and he came from John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers where he originally replaced Eric Clapton on guitar.  There is whole story around that and the formation of Fleetwood Mac which we will have to save for another time as this post is about comparing the two versions of “Black Magic Woman”.

FLEETWOOD MAC

The Fleetwood Mac version of “Black Magic Woman” was  a real bluesy track, heavy on the drums and the bass with little guitar riffs thrown in.  Then there is a great guitar solo that comes in about a minute into the song and goes on for about 45 seconds.  It is really great and what would you expect from a guy that replaced Eric Clapton in another band.

Peter sounds great vocally as well and after listening to it, I realized I have heard the song many times before but probably thought it was the Santana song, of course it doesn’t have the same feel, but they aren’t completely different songs.

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The Original vs. The Cover vs. The Cover – “Rock On”

For this month’s edition of “The Original vs. The Cover”, we are going to take on a third version as we tackle the David Essex song “Rock On”.  We will battle it out between David Essex’s original version vs. covers by both Michael Damian and Def Leppard.

The song was written for a movie that David was starring in called “That’ll Be the Day” which also had Ringo Starr and Kieth Moon.  The song, however, was not used in the movie.  David wrote the song based on his character from the movie and it has a pure old rock & roll rebellious attitude.  The song is actually a tip-of-the-hat to the old time rockers as it mentions “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Summertime Blues” as well as it gives a shout-out to an old Hollywood rebel James Dean.

Since we have three versions, we might as well jump right into it.

DAVID ESSEX

David’s version hit #3 on the UK singles chart in 1973 and didn’t do that great in the US, but doesn’t mean we Americans don’t love it.  The song is very unique in that there are no instruments that play any chords which means there is No Guitar and No Piano on the song at all.  It is all bass, percussion and horns.  It is really stripped down.

You can tell a major influence of the song is Jamaican raggae and the whole dub style.  The song is driven by the bass line which was done by Herbie Flowers.  According to Wikipedia…”(Herbie’s) double-tracked bass guitar was treated with a prominent “slapback” delay effect, creating a complex polyrhythmic backbeat.”

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The Original vs The Cover – “China Girl”

As everyone is aware, David Bowie had what is called his Berlin Era which was the time period between 1976-1979 when he lived in Berlin and recorded several albums including ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’.  During that same period, Iggy Pop was living in Berlin as well and the two got together and wrote the song we covering this month on The Original vs. The Cover.  That song is “China Girl”.

The Original version of this song is actually by Iggy Pop.  It was released by Iggy in 1977 on his album ‘The Idiot’.  David Bowie’s version didn’t come out until 1983 on his album ‘Let’s Dance’.  I will tell you that at the time of Bowie’s release I was completely unaware that Iggy had done this song 6 years earlier so I thought this was the original.

There has been discussion over the meaning of the song over the years.  One group believes the song is about a Vietnamese woman that Iggy was completely infatuated with.  Her name is Kuelan Nguyen.  The song is about his desire to be with her, but at the same time warn her of the problems of Western Civilization and the damage it can do as you can see with the line…”Visions of swastikas in my head”.  The fact the were in Berlin probably added to that commentary.

The other camp thought the song was about Heroin since the term “China White” is a term used to describe heroin.  The girl in the song was considered the Heroin and all the problems it can cause.  I can believe either version, but the truth is it was actually about the woman that Iggy was crazy about.  I prefer the love story over the drugs.  Now, let’s get to the music.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “American Woman”

For this month’s version of The Original Vs. The Cover we tackle “American Woman” by The Guess Who vs Lenny Kravitz’s version.  The song was originally released in 1969 by Canadian band The Guess Who.  The song went to #1 and became such a popular song in the U.S. mainly because of it’s title.

That is strange because the song is not Pro-American, but it isn’t really Anti-American either.  It is a small part Anti-War song (one line says “I don’t need your war machine”) and large part bashing of American women.  Bashing is harsh, it was more like American women were too much for lyricist Burton Cummings.  Here is what he said about the song to the Toronto Star back in 2014

“It had nothing to do with politics. What was on my mind was that girls in the States seemed to get older quicker than our girls and that made them, well, dangerous. When I said ‘American woman, stay away from me,’ I really meant ‘Canadian woman, I prefer you.’ It was all a happy accident.”

The article goes on to describe how the song developed and it seems like it was by pure chance…

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The Original vs The Cover – “You Really Got Me”

For this month’s edition of ‘The Original vs The Cover’, we are going to cover the song “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks vs the cover by Van Halen.  When Van Halen originally released this song back in 1978, I thought it was an original…what did I know, I was only 9.  The Kinks didn’t exist in my world yet.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one as Ray Davies has mentioned that fans have come up to them after shows and thought it was cool that they played a Van Halen song.

“You Really Got Me” was released on Sept 2, 1964 in the US and the song was off the band’s album ‘Kinks’.  The song went to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it went all the way to #1 in their home country of the UK.  It was their third single at the time, but it was the first to really do anything for the band.  It was so successful, it became their signature song.

The song has been described by Ray Davies as a “love song for street kids”.  It is a rebellious track of sex and lust and all around gritty, dirty love.  It is that energy both versions capture so well.

The Kinks

The Kinks’ version had a very Beatlesque quality to it which makes sense since the Beatles were huge at the time.  The band wanted to capture that sound and they truly did.  The song to me also had a real punk feel to it.  It was aggressive and in your face, but it was the guitar sound that really made the song.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”

For this version of The Original vs. The Cover, we are covering (pun intended) Ian Hunter’s classic “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”.  The song was written by Ian and included on his self-titled solo album he released in 1975 after his departure from Mott the Hoople.  The song went to #14 on the UK singles chart and was produced by Ian and great Mick Ronson.

The song hasn’t been covered by a whole lot of acts, but one of the most famous was by Great White.  So, let’s sit back, have a listen and compare the two and determine who has the best version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”.

The song tells the story of a rock musician who meets a girl why he is out on tour and becomes intimate with her (meaning he has sex with her).  He thinks she is young and innocent until to his dismay he discovers she has been around quite a lot and been with a lot of other musicians.  It is a classic tale of old!!

The title of the song comes from the old expression meaning once you have been hurt once, you become less trusting and cautious going forward.  The phrase dates back to 1484 and is traced back to an English printer (William Caxton), the first to publish a translation in to English of Aesop’s tales.  There is your history lesson for the day.

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Gene Simmons the Vault Experience or the Kiss: Kissteria Box Set – Which would you choose??

Let’s have a little fun.  If you had $2,000, which would you buy…the Gene Simmons Vault Experience or the Kiss Kissteria Road Cast Box Set?  Yes, I know there is better things you can do with your money, but this is for fun.  I am not planning to get either of these…at least not right now.  Now before you answer the question, what is included with each?

The Gene Simmons Vault Experience

What is the Gene Simmons Vault Experience?  It is just that…an experience.  For your $2,000 you get to attend an all day Vault Experience which includes the following:

gene-simmons-vault-carousel-breakout-shot

  • Gene Meet & Greet: You and a guest will spend one-on-one time with Gene in your area (maybe 5 minutes based on what I have read, but he will sign anything you want including the top of the Vault and anything inside)
  • “Songs & Stories” Playback Session and Q&A: You and a guest will attend an intimate Vault preview
  • Gene photo/video/autograph session
  • Gene hand delivers your limited-edition personalized Vault (which has a special section with bonus items individually selected by Gene that are included that are unique to your vault – some guy got Kiss Kondoms)
  • Vault Pre-Pack: Signed Golden Ticket, T-Shirt, Download Card (with “Are You Ready”), And laminate

Let’s just let Gene explain:

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The Cover vs. The Cover – “Whiskey in the Jar”

Alright, we are going to shake things up this time on The Original Vs. The Cover.  We are going to actually look at two Cover versions of the same song and let them battle it out.  The song is “Whiskey in the Jar” and the bands are Thin Lizzy and Metallica.

Yes, the Thin Lizzy version was a cover and not an original.  “Whisky in a Jar” is actually on old Irish traditional song that was called “The Highwayman and The Captain”.  The lyrics were altered and the name changed to “Whiskey in the Jar” by the Beasley Brothers some time in 1967.  The song was later made famous by the Irish band the Dubliners in 1968.

The story behind the song is that this traveller (or highwayman) stole money from Captain Farrell.  He took it to his woman who betrays him (however, it doesn’t say what the betrayal is).  He later sees Captain Farrell again and ends up killing and winding up in prison.  It is such a happy song!!

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Live and Let Die”

Welcome to the first installment of “The Original Vs. The Cover” for 2018.  We are going to start it off this year with the battle between Paul McCartney & Wings and Guns ‘N Roses with the song “Live and Let Die”.  The song was written by Paul & Linda McCartney for the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die”. The two versions aren’t really that different in my opinion.  Some of the orchestration is replaced with guitars, but other than that they are very similar.  But before we choose a version we like more, let’s talk about each version first.

Paul McCartney and Wings

Paul was given the Ian Fleming novel to read and then he sat down at his piano and wrote the song.  I am not sure Paul had ever had to write a song around a title before as he said it was not an easy thing to do.  Well, he wrote the song in an afternoon, so it must not have been that hard.  The song is one of Wing’s most popular songs and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in 1973.  However, it did lose to Barbara Streisand’s song “The Way We Were”.  The song was also nominated for a Grammy in the same year.

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Apple Music vs Spotify

Back a few months ago, I did a comparison of Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited.  Apple Music won that battle for as the better overall service.  Now it is time to test that service against Spotify.  Spotify is offering 3 months for only $0.99 which I figured for that price, it was worth a try. Now, it is time to see how Spotify compares to Apple Music.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

 There are definite differences between the two and one edges out the other, but will it change how I listen to music?  That is the question. First, lets talk about what each service offers and which is the better service for that item.

Music Selection

There are two features that I think are the most important. The first feature is music selection. What artists and songs does each service offer? Are they artist I like? Is the selection enough to satisfy me? Here is what I have found:

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