Category Archives: Live Music
Interesting covers goes old-time. Today we look at a milestone song “Hound Dog“. It was written by the legendary team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller in 1952 after meeting and hearing Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton. The meeting had been arranged by Johnny Otis. They were 19 at the time, unbelievable. Big Mama Thornton was the first to record it (August 1952) and released it in February 1953. It was her only hit, but the song, well that’s a different story altogether. It has been covered over 85 times and charted on several of those incarnations, although none had the success of either Big mama’s or Elvis Presley’s versions. The Elvis version is obviously the best known and placed at 19 on Rolling Stones Top 500 of all time, not to mention being in the Grammy’s Hall of Fame. Who has covered it you ask? A veritable who’s who of music and reflecting a wide diversity of style. Jerry Lee Lewis, Pat Boone, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Conway Twitty, Eric Clapton, James Taylor and Frank Zappa. Crazy! We will dispense with the poll on this, seems the work involved is not worth the 1 vote each time hahaha. We’ll start with Big Mama, move through a couple of others and finish up with Elvis. Enjoy!
The Big Mama version is very much R&B and a lot less frenetic than the more familiar Elvis effort. I like the voice and her control of the song. The instrumentation is subtly performed by some very good musicians. A great song done like this.
This version is by one of my favourites, John Lennon. Unfortunately, the song is not up to his standards, ruined by some “singing?” by Yoko doing her best imitations of a dog. Kind of funny to listen to and watch. Some good playing though.
Here is the Jimi Hendrix version, unmistakably his.
And of course, Elvis.
Today we have another tune from a regular contributor to the series, Joel Plaskett Emergency. The song is a great sing along called Deny Deny Deny. Joel is a great good time music maker in the great Maritime Canadian tradition. You can hear the Celtic undertones and almost expect a fiddle and an accordion to pop in any second. The tune is performed live somewhere in Halifax.
I’m A Believer is a song penned by Neil Diamond and made a forever signature classic by The Monkees way back in 1966. The song went gold in 2 days, hitting number 1 in December 1966 and was the biggest selling single of 1967. It is also one of only 40 songs to sell 10 million physical copies (source:Wikipedia). Amazing numbers for so long ago. Needless to say that success bred many attempts at duplication, of which I will note four. Don’t forget to vote for the one you like best.
First we have British singer Robert Wyatt who made it a UK hit in 1974. The band he was with had some power with Andy Summers (Police) on guitar and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) on drums. The video is a live performance on Tops Of The Pops and was his first appearance after an accident left him a paraplegic.
Next up we have my favourite version by Smash Mouth. Why you say? Simple, Shrek is one of my all time favourite movies. Eddie Murphy is also featured on the tune, recorded in 2001.
Third, we have the man, Neil Diamond. he sings his song live in 2008. Nicely done Neil.
And last, the original.
The oft maligned John Mayer enters my Song of the Day series, yet again. I say maligned as more often than not he is dismissed as nothing more than a pop artists. I tend to disagree. I find him a superior writer of songs, some pop, some a lot more than that, such as this tune, “Wildfire”. In this tune he once again proves that he can write and do a great catchy song and showcase something else that people tend to miss. As a guitar player, there are few performing today that are as good as he is. He is a terrific player, up there with many of the recognized greats. In the video, he really cuts loose at the 3:20 mark. All in all, this song rates an A+ in my books. Hope you enjoy.
Heard this on CBC2 today during an interview she was doing and had to post it. Serena Ryder is the next big thing. The vocals on this are amazing, almost Adele, yet different, kind of like Aretha, yet different, and a dash of Amy Winehouse. This is the exact performance I heard. Sit back and enjoy “For You”. Oh, and get the album “Harmony”, you will not regret it.
Sweet Jane is a classic Velvet Underground tune, first released in 1970 on their “Loaded” album. Lou Reed wrote the song, and his lyrics are powerful, not mention the arrangement. As I morph this series, I am thing a poll is just screaming to be added to the mix, so I will. Rules are simple. I will add the songs, then ask you to decide which is your fave. Simple? This works well for this choice as there are many covers out there. Let’s start with the original, then move on from there.
Next up, let’s go with Mott the Hoople. This was the first cover, 1972, and was released on their “All The Young Dudes” album. The band featured the great Ian Hunter on vocals, and is a true copy, with little change in the arrangement.
Mott The Hoople
Next up is a version by Canadian alt-country band, “Cowboy Junkies“. They released the tune as a single in 1988. It was used on the soundtrack for “Natural Born Killers“. A slower version, and the vocals of Margo Timmins are great. The song is slowed up with great effect. My favourite version.
And a last entry, a live version, with Lou Reed fronting Metallica. A very different version.
Metallica with Lou Reed
Decided to change the name to “Interesting” from “Unusual”. I’d say that a lot of covers are more interesting than strange. My first post on this involved Jackie Wilson doing the Doors “Light My Fire”. Not really unusual, although a soul icon doing what became a rock classic was somewhat strange, it was truly much more interesting.
Today we are going to take a look at something that is definitely interesting, and maybe a bit unusual as well. Siouxsie and the Banshees were a 70’s punk band that expanded into a more adventuresome style of music. Some would call it post-punk, others might say glam. Personally, I never got into them very much. I did find it kind of cool that they did a cover of one of my favourite Beatles tunes, “Dear Prudence”. I have been a John Lennon fan since the early days of my musical odyssey, and many of his songs could be classified as soundtrack of my life. Dear Prudence was on the Beatles Whit Album, released in 1968 and tells the tale of Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence. She was studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the same time as Lennon, and he wrote the song to encourage to come out and socialize as she had turned into a bit of a recluse. ( I pretend to be an informative blog haha.).
Siouxsie and the Banshees recorded the song in 1983 and released it as a single. It became one of their biggest hits. Without further adieu, “Dear Prudence”.
And of course, the original.
Playing with YouTube this morning and got inspired to note some, what some may think, unusual covers of some great songs. To qualify as an unusual cover, it must be a reasonably famous original redone by reasonably famous act. My first attempt into the world of unusual covers is one done by soul great, Jackie Wilson. Jackie has a resounding resume of hits, dating back to the 1950’s. He died in 1984, leaving a legacy that included such hits as Lonely Teardrops and Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. He also left us this cover of The Doors classic, Light My Fire. He recorded it in 1969. Check it out.
And for comparison, here is the Doors performing the song live on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The world lost a great one on August 5. George Duke, the legend, passed away at the age of 67. Not many careers as fine as this jazz keyboardist, singer, composer and producer. And collaborator, wow, he played with Zappa on many of his albums and is recognized as a major keyboard pioneer. Truly an amazing player. He played with everybody, Al Jarreau, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and the list goes on. Almost 40 albums on his own, innumerable albums as a sideman, he will be missed. The cut I have posted is unbelievably good. It is a live video of George and his band at the java Jazz Festival.
- Rep: Jazz keyboardist George Duke dies at 67 (news.yahoo.com)
- George Duke, jazz and funk keyboardist, dies aged 67 (telegraph.co.uk)
- George Duke A Jazz Legend Dies at 67 (themuzicnote.com)
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are a Canadian alt-country group. I enjoy them as the country is more of a country blues sound. The group has been going strong since the early 1990’s and, in addition to the groups many record, has spawned many solo albums by its members, Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson. A great group to follow as there is some exceptional talent here. The song I have for you is a live version of “Got You Covered”, which was released as a single in 2011 and was featured on their album, “Kings and Queens”, also released in 2011.