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Old 09-04-2010, 02:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Pick a Classic, Rank its Covers

This is different than the normal cover thread because you rank and review the covers of a favorite or classic song.

Here's mine to start things off.

The Orange Blossom Special started out as a famous passenger train and ended up as an even more famous bluegrass song. Born in an old alcoholic fiddler's bedroom late one night, the song grew into an anthem of bluegrass and showcases what the genre is all about.

Many bands throughout the years have covered the song and I want to review some of the more memorable performances and rank them.

ORIGINAL

Chubby Wise is the fiddler who claims to have created the song but there is a dispute who originally composed the song between Wise and the Rouse brothers. It definitely is very basic and doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it provided that great classic bluegrass foundation for all these other guys to expand on and make their own.

1st Place

Johnny Cash always had a bit of a soft spot for the old ramblin' train song, so its only fitting he would do this song justice. Even though this piece is normally performed as an fast paced fiddle instrumental, Johnny Cash changes the rules a little bit and opts for a slower paced melody, sings the old and nearly forgotten lyrics, and uses a harmonica in place of the fiddle. I really think he knocks it out of the park because he gives the song his personality but keeps all the important parts like that you want to hear like the chugging train beat intact.

2nd Place

I feel Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs have perfected the classic fiddle instrumental. You wouldn't even think this was the same song as Johnny Cash's version. Its the fastest, most fiery, and most groomed out of the bunch. IT WILL MAKE YOUR HEAD SPIN. This band is the most skilled in general and it shows the difference between a bluegrass band playing the song and a country and western band playing the song. The bluegrass guys just know what they are doing.

3rd Place
*song coming soon*
Bill Monroe. You gotta love this version because it sounds OLD AS THE HILLS. Bill Monroe's got that voice of a feeble 90 year old hillbilly and the bit of banter they do in the middle is priceless. 'Birmingham, the best ham around' har har. Its pretty slow and the sizzle and bang just isn't there as much as it is in the others though.

4th Place

This is an admirable version by Mickey Gilley's band the one thing it's got that the other's don't is that it ends on a bang where the others just kind of fizzle out.

5th Place

Charlie Daniels is claimed to be one of the best fiddle players in existence. But I was dissapointed with his cover. Its was like he was trying too hard. And it was too fucking long. Sorry Charlie.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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For christs sake, don't everybody post at once.

I think I'll go back to hiding in my journal now.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, this is actually one of the better thread topics that's been thrown out there in a while. I'm surprised no one has contributed so far. I'll throw mine down soon.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh goodness thank you Satchmo this thread definitely could use your emergency CPR. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm gonna cheat for now and throw down a post from a thread that I started from a journal of mine a while back:
Quote:
You know, I get a little OCD sometimes, about music and sometimes about other stuff. But one thing that really surprises me about myself when it comes to my love of music is the way I gravitate toward concepts, latch on to them like a Rottweiler on a Raggedy Ann doll, and refuse to let go. I think this is a huge reason why I have such an interest in jazz. Jazz is very much about taking the tangible thought and emotion and making it conceptual, more vague, but at the same time, more specific.

Case in point. The song Mercy, Mercy, Mercy written by legendary jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul was first recorded in 1966 by The Cannonball Adderly Quintet, of which Zawinul was a member, on the album Live at 'the Club' (which, by the way, is a live album in the same vein that Tom Waits' Nighthawks at the Diner is a live album: It's really a studio album with an imported audience). This song is pretty much the definition of a contemporary jazz standard. It has been recorded and performed in so many different ways by so many different ensembles, from solo piano performers to orchestra-size big bands. Now the rub of this song is that it's one of those tunes where the feeling and emotion of the song is supposed to reflect the title of the song, as Cannonball Adderly Explains in the intro to the original right here:



As much as I love this song I've always had somewhat of a presumptuous attitude toward it in a couple of different ways. First of all, despite Adderly explaining the song as depicting the feeling of hopelessness when faced with adversity, I have never gotten that from this song, probably because this song has always filled me with a much more vivid impression. Mercy Mercy Mercy has always struck me as the quintessential "I'm so in love that I just don't know what to do with myself" song. Musically It has all the same telling gestures of being caught up in that same wave of emotions and thought processes. That being said, I guess my disagreement with the overall concept of the song pretty well explains my second point of contention, and that is that nobody, not even Joe Zawinul and The Cannonball Adderly Quintet, plays this song correctly.

On the piano, particularly the electric piano, this song has made itself quite the standard repetoire for jazz and blues afficianados, but there are two almost juxtapose qualities that any performance of this song has to have in order to get my seal of approval. One, it has to be slower than molasses goin' up a hill backwards and it has to have swagger. These are two qualities that tend to cancel each other out with all but the most patient and proficient players. Firstly Everybody want's to play this song too fast as seen here with this gentleman on the fender rhodes, which is as close to terrible as your gonna get:



Then you have the other extreme with those players who seem to be fairly in tune with the songs tempo, but the slow pace of the song throws off their ability to work the pocket with the bottom end chord work of their left hand which gives this song that essential "helpless" soulful inflection that makes it what it is. Like this kid on the piano, the swagger is all off:



Despite the fact that I could not find any marginally professional solo performers doing this song on youtube, (all of the professionally recorded versions have either been full ensemble or completely off the mark) its been an interesting experience seeing the various subtle ways in which this song can be interpreted by amateurs. Perhaps the best version I've been able to find was by this poor sap in his living room gettin' groovy on a Rhodes electric piano, which is really the only instrument that truly does the song justice. It's still, too fast, but it's as close as I'm gonna' get.



This song has been driving me quite crazy as of late. It seems to really be my musical holy grail, but I'll be having many more of these moments in the future as you will undoubtedly see.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't have a series of covers but this is probably my favorite cover.

Lovefool - The Cardigans



The Morning Benders - Lovefool (The Cardigans)

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Last edited by Husky McDump; 09-10-2010 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow... this is a really awesome thread. I'll be sure to post in here if I ever come up with an idea. I found both of these posts really interesting.
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Old 09-11-2010, 10:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yes yes yes. Wonderful addition SATCHMO. Just the kind of thing I want this thread to be about.

and

Quote:
One, it has to be slower than molasses goin' up a hill backwards and it has to have swagger.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Since SATCHMO can cheat, I'll cheat, too! Here's a post I made in a reggae thread, Flower Child:

I looked up the one reggae-style song for which I actually remember the title: "Red Red Wine."

I learned that the original song was written by Neil Diamond! Huh, I thought to myself. Huh. That doesn't sound very promising as a reggae song...and it isn't. The song is more of a ballad and I don't think I missed much by never having heard it before today.

The song was then covered by Tony Tribe, a Jamaican rocksteady singer who recorded a reggae-influenced version in 1969. I feel Tribe's version is a little better than the original. Many other people covered this song, too.

Finally, in 1983, UB40 created the version that I always liked and that probably most of you have heard. I don't think I heard this song when it came out in 1983 but later in college, so it brings back memories of dorm rooms and drunk people and failed love.

As an aside, I really think the UB40 song is pretty and melancholy, but drinking oneself into oblivion to forget someone is not a very productive coping mechanism!! Maybe that's why people like the song: it shows human frailty...and sometimes it is nice to know you aren't the only weak one pining away stupidly for someone. Since I hate wine, I'd probably just use some nice fruit juice...maybe rice drink mixed with coconut-pineapple juice (yum!).

Here you can compare the progression of songs, culminating in UB40's performance of "Red Red Wine," which I enjoy the most:

ORIGINAL: Neil Diamond - Red Red Wine (written and sung by him) - 3rd place



Tony Tribe - Red Red Wine (cover) (1969) - 2nd place



UB 40 - Red Red wine (cover) (1983) - my favorite! - 1st place!!!

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Old 09-15-2010, 04:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Okay, since I cheated in my previous post, I will write a whole new one here!

ORIGINAL: "Material Girl" by Madonna - I always liked this song when I was little because she was so brazenly confident about herself and her allure, and I secretly longed to be that popular, even as I pooh-poohed such base desires. Now I like the song because it opposes materialism...but lets you get to enjoy it at the same time! Here is Madonna singing "Material Girl" with some friends in 2008:




COVER 1st Place: Someone doing a metal version of "Material Girl."
I don't know who did the "singing," but I gave this cover my top rank for the humor factor. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this! I really can't get through this video without laughing, so that biased me in its favor:




COVER 2nd Place: Hilarie and Haylie Duff singing "Material Girl."
I thought they did a nice job singing the song...it sounds light and airy...and they are just so darn cute! The updated beat modernizes the song nicely for today's teens:




COVER 3rd Place: Heller singing "Material Girl."
I didn't care for this harder rock version so much, partly because the video made me feel Heller is mostly singing it to look sexy and misses some of the irony of the song. Still, she sings it well...once you get past the beginning car scene and her squeaky voice.

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Originally Posted by Neapolitan:
If a chicken was smart enough to be able to speak English and run in a geometric pattern, then I think it should be smart enough to dial 911 (999) before getting the axe, and scream to the operator, "Something must be done! Something must be done!"

Last edited by VEGANGELICA; 09-15-2010 at 04:58 AM.
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