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 – “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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RSO (Richie Sambora & Orianthi) – “I Got You Babe” / “Forever All the Way” – Single Review

Richie Sambora & Orianthi (or RSO for short) have put out two E.P.’s and now give us two new singles just in time for Valentine’s Day (now this is a little past Valentine’s Day, but that was when I first heard it).  They give is the incredible Sonny & Cher cover of “I Got You Babe” and a new single called “Forever All The Way”.

First off, we will focus on “I Got You Babe”.  Now, I have to admit, I have been waiting for a great cover of the Sonny & Cher classic song.  Sadly, this isn’t it.  In fact, no one is waiting for a cover of “I Got You Babe”.  I am sorry to admit this is dreadful.  Is that harsh?  I am sorry, but it is.  I give them credit for trying a few things different with it.  They definitely bring into the modern era for sound and they try to rock it out.  It doesn’t work.  It was a cheesy song before and it is still a cheesy song now.

I know they are happy together and it is supposed to be a fun song, but there is nothing redeeming about it that will make me ever want to listen to this drivel ever again. I liked their last E.P., “Making History”. This goes in completely the wrong direction from what they accomplished with that one.

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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 – “All Along the Watchtower”

For this month’s The Original vs. The Cover, we are tackling the classic song “All Along the Watchtower” written by Bob Dylan.  We are going to explore the Bob Dylan version and the Jimi Hendrix version.  The two versions of this song couldn’t be more different.  You have Bob Dylan’s version which is more Folk Rock and then the Hendrix version which is pure guitar rock.  Each version is a classic in its own right so how do you choose.  Let’s learn about each version first before we decide.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan wrote and recorded the song back in 1967.  It was on the album John Wesley Harding which was released in December 1967.  The song itself wasn’t released as a single until November 22, 1968 which was actually after The Jimi Hendrix Experience released it as they released it as a single on September 21, 1968.  If we base the original and the cover based off single release date, then Hendrix’s is the original…right?  No, it isn’t but one could make an argument if they so choose.

The song itself is a slow, almost ballad like for part of the song.  Instrumentally, the standout is the harmonica which is the main driver of the song.  The guitar and drum parts were background and their simplicity is what makes it work.  The folksy sound and Dylan’s gritty voice were magical and he sings with such emotion.  This is one of the few songs I actually could understand what he was saying.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “Hurt”

This month’s ‘The Original Vs. The Cover’s focusing on the Nine Inch Nails Song “Hurt”.  The song is one of my favorite Nine Inch Nails songs and I am not a huge fan of the band, but this song always struck a chord with me.  However, it was the cover of this song by a gentleman who goes by the moniker of Johnny Cash that made me stop and pay attention to this song (maybe you have heard of him).  It was one of the most surprising song choices for Cash to cover, but damn! did he make it his own song.  Let’s start off with the Original version of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.

NINE INCH NAILS:

The song, “Hurt”, was written by Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor and is off their album ‘The Downward Spiral’.  For those not familiar with the band, their style is very industrial rock and has a very metalic sound.  This song is no different other than the slow, plodding pace of song.  It comes at you with such a sadness and a dark tone that you immediately feel the pain the singer is going through.  The opening lines define the song right out of the gate…”I hurt myself today / To see if I still feel”.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Cum On Feel The Noize”

For the third installment, I wanted to cover the Slade song “Cum on Feel the Noize”.  Yes, I said Slade.  If you didn’t know Quiet Riot did a COVER version of this song (any many others), they did not write it. As a kid, I thought they wrote it and it was their song.  They definitely made it their own, but it was years later I learned it was actually a cover of Slade’s song.

Of course, I am a huge fan of the Quiet Riot version as that is what introduced me to the band.  However, once I discovered the band Slade, years later, I became a bigger fan of them than Quiet Riot. I really enjoy the Glam rock era of the 70’s and the fact they are the ones that wrote these great songs, I now lean more towards their version.  Let’s talk a little about each version and then you can tell me which one you like best.

SLADE:

“Cum on Feel the Noize” was originally titled “Cum on Hear the Noize” until Noddy Holder changed it because he believed that at a Slade concert you felt the music and the crowd.*  The single went #1 in the UK in February 1973 and was their fourth #1 song.  It was also the first song to go #1 in its first week of release since the Beatles back in 1969.

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