In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)
Theme: Covers 3
Toxic by Mark Ronson- Britney Spears’s songs seem weirdly well-suited for covers. I can’t really explain it, but it does seem to be true.
I liked elements of this one, but I’m not sure how well it all hangs together as a whole unit. The rap interlude in particular seems off with both the music of this song and the general theme of it and, yet I do like it on its own.
I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin- This is a cover? I think I’m more familiar with this version than the original. Huh. Apparently Warwick’s version is the original. I honestly didn’t know that.
Walk on By by The Stranglers- Not for me. Do not like at all. I especially hate the extended musical noodling that starts at about 1:28 and goes to 5:34 but I was hardly onboard before that. Terrible.
Welcome to the Terrordome by Pharoahe Monch- It feels less substantial and glossier than the original, if that makes sense. “Welcome to the Terrordome” hit hard…this cover has none of that strength to it. I don’t need nor want the same in a cover but I want something that at least can match the power of the original
Hot Like Fire by The xx- Airy and insubstantial. Pretty but nothing of its bones to make it linger with me.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by Devo- I was going to say I respected it more than I liked it, but I’m not even sure that that is true. Definitely does not compare to the Stones’ original. I do like that they went and did something so different with it. So yeah, I guess “respect but not like” is accurate enough.
Never Gonna Give You Up by The Black Keys- I like the contrast between the breezy music and vocals and the actual desperate and, arguably, creepiness of the lyrics. I’m not a massive fan of this style of music, so it is not an unqualified rec, but I do appreciate that juxtaposition.
Stillness in the Move by Solange- This sure feels like 90’s R&B, doesn’t it? Remember when En Vogue and SWV ruled the Earth? Weren’t times better then?
Ocean of Noise by Norah Jones- I love that Jones starts off with mentioning Arcade Fire and then saying, “I don’t know if you guys know them.” At the time, a perfectly reasonable statement. A year later? Ludicrous. Time and all that, am I right?
I like the female vocals with this song. Gives the whole thing a suitably different feel than the original. A sleepier, more boring take, to be sure (Zing, Jones! ZING!) but still it nicely carves out something different but still good from the original.
You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Vanilla Fudge- Is this Tom Jones? No? Vanilla Fudge. Really? Wow. It sounds like Tom Jones. Not good. Not good at all.
Mythsysizer by Paul Banks- “Do you think we can make a 1:48 feel twice as long?” “Oh yeah, at least.”
The Boys are Back in Town by The Cardigans- A discofied version of “The Boys are Back in Town”? And it still works? The Cardigans are magic you guys.
I Can’t Make U Love Me by Prince- Prince makes every song his own. This is a cover, sure, but it feels like it was always his, doesn’t it? I mean, this goes on way too long, but it’s hard to be mad about it when Prince is the one running on, isn’t it?
Don’t Worry Baby by Rivers Cuomo- I have an affection for this song that I don’t quite understand. Is it LOVE, ACTUALLY’s fault? Perhaps.
Anyway, Cuomo falls into the trap here of making a good faithful cover that’s too close to the original to really differentiate itself. It’s a nice enough song, but there’s nothing here to convince me it should get airtime when the original exists.
War Pigs by Cake- The track does suffer a bit without Ozzy’s notably odd interpretation of the lyrics, but it is a surprisingly stronger version than I would’ve expected from Cake. It tends to be a bit too close in places as with the above track, but I am more forgiving here as it is much different from Cake’s signature style so there’s at least, in that way, a sense of reinvention or alteration. The addition of the sirens is also something of a nice touch that beefs up the song in a route that Sabbath had not already tread.
Panic by Pete Yorn- Yorn adds a verse here brings the panic across the pond to the U.S. as well, Los Angeles specifically, and I find myself wondering why. He didn’t omit the London verse, he just doubled up on it. It’s an odd choice.
The subdue opening verses giving way to Yorn letting the proverbial horses out of the barn for the “Hang the DJ” refrain is a good bit of musical stagecraft, hushing things before giving the song a shot of adrenaline.
It may be blasphemous, but I think I prefer this version to the more jangly, consistent toned, and almost celebratory Smiths original. I know, I know. I’m a hideous person. But there we are.
Never My Love by Har Mar Superstar- I feel like I’m in an elevator that’s desperate to prove to me how hip it is.
These Days by St. Vincent- This isn’t very different, but I prefer St. Vincent’s vocals over Nico’s more affected one. The whole package feels a bit almost Elliot Smith-y to me and if you know me, you know I like that quite a bit.
Where is My Mind by Nada Surf- An inoffensive cover, I suppose. I applaud going stripped down for it but…it’s just not all that interesting or exciting.
Crazy by The Kills- Burn it. Burn the whole damn thing down.