If you remember the ‘American Pie’ films, you know how raunchy they were and a song that was linked to the film as sort of a theme song was the song “Laid” by the band James. The song was written by Tim Booth, Larry Gott and Jim Glennie, however, never appeared in the movies only in the first two films movie trailers. It wasn’t until the 2003 film, ‘American Pie: The Wedding’, that it appeared, but it wasn’t the James version of the song. Instead it was a cover by Matt Nathanson. I guess James wanted too much money for it and the film could only afford a cover version of that. And why not Matt as he has the chops to do a faithful rendition of the song.
The song is just as raunchy as the movies, but Matt stays true to the James version and really delivers a stellar performance. This is probably the first time I ever heard anything by Matt and now 20 years later, I am still collecting his stuff and a massive fan. And in my hunts for Matt Nathanson product, I found a Promo CD from Europe for the song and only that song. My copy was bought from Austria thanks to Discogs. There is another version out there that is the US Promo and it has the Soundtrack album cover as the cover of the Promo (and yes, I am on the hunt for it and will get it soon and when I do, I’ll update this post to show it). You can get the song on the ‘American Pie: The Wedding’ Soundtrack, but I don’t think it is on any studio album from Matt so you either get the promo or the movie soundtrack.
Billy Idol has taken a cover song and made it his own. “Mony Mony” is the song that I think more people related to Billy Idol rather than the original singer Tommy James and the Shondells who had a hit with it back in 1968. Billy first released it on his E.P. ‘Don’t Stop’ back in 1981. But it was the live recording of the song that became a hit while he was promoting his album ‘Vital Idol’ in 1987. The song was massive and live gave rise to the additional chant of “Get Laid..Get Fucked” following the line… “Hey, say what…”. It became such a popular chant, that high schools at the time banned the song from school dances.
When I was out crate digging, I came across this 12″ Maxi-Single a couple years ago, but it was in such bad shape, I passed as I knew I could find a better copy. And a couple months ago, I did. So, I grabbed it this time around. I keep saying I am not a fan of 12″ Maxi-Singles because you usually get several unnecessary re-mixes of the same song over and over again and this one is no different. But, I am a collector and I find something from an artist I like and I collect it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. This 12″ Single is the U.S. version from 1987 and has 4 versions of “Mony Mony” so let’s get to it, shall we.
When I was on vacation during this past Summer, I found a ton of 45 Singles with the Picture Sleeves at a place called House of Vinyl and I ended buying 7 Van Halen 45’s. First up last week was “Dance the Night Away” from 1979. And second we have the song “Pretty Woman” off the band’s album ‘Diver Down’ from 1982.
The copy I found was interesting to me. First was the fact the song was called “Pretty Woman” and not “(Oh) Pretty Woman”. When the single was first released, it went without the (Oh) part of the title and later issues corrected that and put the (Oh) back in. So that tells me I have an original issue copy. The second thing I found interesting is that the back cover of the picture sleeve has the flip side being “Happy Trials” which was actually the B-Side on the album. However, this copy is a promotional copy and it only has “Pretty Woman” on Side A and Side B. One Mono version and one Stereo version like the last one. That got me thinking was this in the wrong cover and what I can find is that it is not. It looks like they slipped the Promo copies in the same sleeve as the actual single to the public at least according to what I found on Discogs.
Another thing I thought was cool about the label on the Single was how the Engineer, Donn Landee, was actually listed. That does not happen very often. According to Ted Templeman’s book, he feels that he couldn’t be as a good as a producer he was without the help of an amazing engineer and Donn was that to him. He wanted Donn to get as much credit for these albums and songs as he did so he had his name added. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me.
For the next edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going with the classic song “Proud Mary” originally done by Creedence Clearwater Revival and covered by Ike & Tina Turner. The song was written by John Fogerty and released in January 1969 on the band’s album ‘Bayou Country’. This song has had 100’s of covers made of it, but in 1969 alone, there were 35 covers…35!!! Unbelievable.
The song was written by Fogerty after he was discharged from the Army in 1967 which was the the “good job” he left in the city. “Proud Mary” is the name of the River Boat and the song is about that journey down the river with the big water wheel rolling around and around pushing them down the river. The song went to #2 for CCR and #4 for Ike & Tina on Billboard Hot 100 charts which is pretty respectable for both.
But enough about that. 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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.