Friday, February 05, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Beyond Zager and Evans! Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental hand/groin coordination consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to lovely Indianapolis, Indiana and the palatial home of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Theoretically), where we will be beating the little SOB within an inch of his life. No particular reason, actually, just on general principles.

In any event, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

Post-Beatles Pop/Rock Song -- Hit or Non-Hit -- That Really
Should Be a Hit in a New Cover Version By Somebody Smart!!!


No arbitrary rules here whatsoever, you're welcome very much. And yeah, I'm pretty sure I've done something similar in the dim dark past, but I came up with a couple of interesting new choices so what the hell.

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Brenda Holloway -- Every Little Bit Hurts




From 1964, a serious contender for the most gorgeous R&B ballad of all time. It's actually been covered fairly often -- the Small Faces with Steve Marriott did a killer version -- but I guarantee even a decent remake by a current diva would be Top Ten so fast your head would spin. Incidentally, this was written and produced by Ed Cobb, who also wrote and produced -- hold onto your hats -- The Standells' proto-punk classic "Dirty Water." Obviously, this is a gentleman whose career deserves further research and possible reassessment.

5. Knots and Crosses -- Creatures of Habit




A local indie-rock hit in Boston in the early 90s. and one of the most absolutely heartbreaking songs ever written. And a genre straddler too, I think.

4. Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams -- Excuses, Excuses




THE great tear-jerking neurotic Jewish country song (admittedly, a narrow genre) via my pal Andy "Folk Rock" Pasternak. Okay, I'm playing bass and keys on it, but I swear to god this could be a smash for somebody.

3. Warren Zevon -- Tenderness on the Block




An oddly overlooked track from Zevon's biggest hit album. In fact, it's one of the most overtly Brill Building pop things he recorded, sort of in the same ballpark as its producer Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby," which did pretty well, as I recall.

2. The Tokens -- He's in Town



An absolutely glorious near epic slice of 60s urban romanticism, and hands down my favorite sort of obscure Carole King-penned song. This was a minor hit in '65, but I guarantee if you give it the the full Springsteen/Spector treatment today it would be a license to print money.

And the numero uno pop or rock ditty that should go to the toppermost of the poppermost in a brand new version undoubtedly, please don't argue this because I'm sensitive, is ---

1. The Cars -- My Best Friend's Girl



I've said this a hundred times, and I'll say it again -- a country band with a little imagination could emphasize the obvious Buddy Holly-esque roots of this and have a hit in the proverbial New York minute.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best or worst films inspired by somebody's real life -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to leaving a comment over there, it would cement an era of good feeling I'm having with management and maybe get me a much deserved raise. Thanks!]

30 comments:

TJWood said...

I've got two: "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl" from the first Mink DeVille album and "Blue" by the Jayhawks. Both got fairly good airplay on the more progressive stations of their time, but neither quite enough to qualify as massive hits. I'm a little stuck on who to nominate to cover for the former, but I can definitely see one of our Nashville pop-country acts (Carrie Underwood? Zac Brown Band?) grab a CMA or two with the latter.

dSmith said...

Johnny Mathis did a version of Todd Rundgren's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" Nice job too, but it wasn't a hit.

Dave said...

You picked two faves of mine: the Brenda Holloway and Token's songs. I really liked "Excuses, Excuses," too.

Gee, I know I've must have brought up this topic 50 times in my life, and now almost all of my selections are eluding me.

I think you could almost throw darts at a title list of Marshall Crenshaw's first album. If pinned to one, I'd probably go with Mary Anne, but here's a cool live clip of "Cynical Girl": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR7gXt9GeVM&feature=related

I've posted it before, but Kirsty McColl's "Hey John," covered so beautifully by Eddi Reader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms5RQefyJLs

Lord forgive me, but if I were trying to modernize Mariah Carey's sound, I'd slip her a copy of Eli and the 13th Confession. Listening it to it the other day, I realize I never noticed how much Laura Nyro and Carey's lower registers sound ar so similar. "Lu" would probably be the more commercial choice, but "Emmie" is a great fit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lqSYUBY-dc

John Fowler said...

When Los Lobos' How Will the Wolf Survive? first came out, I thought it was chock-full of potential country hits - "I Got Loaded", "Evangeline", the lovely "A Matter of Time". I recall even hoping that this would happen, and give the band a bit more of the exposure that it deserved. Didn't happen, and in retrospect, perhaps it was a naive thought -

Anyway, that album still holds up so well, I think - it's a pretty common visitor to my active playlist...

(the word is roombly)

steve simels said...

I totally agree about Laura Nyro...some of those songs are just crying out for some kind of contemporary treatment.

And funny you should mention Los Lobos, John -- I just downloaded How Will the Wolf Survive? the other day, not having heard it in ages, and I had exactly the same reaction -- chock full of potential country hits.

Sal Nunziato said...

If you get rid of the cheesy synthesizers, and the three girls singing it, Bananarama's "I Heard A Rumor" has a perfect pop melody. Reworked with chunky guitars and crisp, smacking drums ala Bram Tchaikovsky's "Girl Of My Dreams," this could be a killer.

Anonymous said...

Opus 17 ( don't you worry about me) by valli & the four seasons, always thought a boy band could have a modern hit with this one

Precious Love by Bob Welch, similarly I hear this working for a young girl singer or group.

steves said...

Up until a year ago, I was dying for someone to do a rockin' cover of Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth." It just seemed like a custom-made anthem for the Bush regime.

These days, I'd like to hear somebody with decent pipes--Elvis Costello perhaps--tackle Dusty Springfield's "No Easy Way Down."

The Kenosha Kid said...

Actually, Fountains of Wayne did a contemporary cover of My Best Friend's Girl, only they called it "Stacy's Mom."

dave™© said...

I always wanted to hear Elvis Costello cover "What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?" and - don't kill me, Steve - "Whiter Shade of Pale"!

dave™© said...

If you get rid of the cheesy synthesizers, and the three girls singing it...

So basically, if you got rid of Bananarama.

OK, I'm cool with that...

dave™© said...

Actually, Dhani Harrison and Jakob Dylan did a cover of "Gimme the Truth" on that Lennon tribute album that was pretty good...

steves said...

Uh...sorry.

I think I broke DivShare (Hit Refresh while it was playing.)

steve simels said...

So basically, if you got rid of Bananarama.


Hey -- I lurve Bananarama. Not really a musical thing, of course...

steves said...

Lennon tribute album??? Is it new?

Michael said...

All I'll say is that Ron Sexsmith could use a contemporary Linda Ronstadt.

Sal Nunziato said...

Always felt if John Waite could stop rewriting 'Missing YOu" for a few years, he'd do a great "I Heard A Rumour."

And was Generation X's "Gimme Some Truth" ok?

J. Loslo said...

"He's in Town" has long been a favorite of mine. I doubt he'd get a hit out of it, but I'd love to hear Raul Malo sing it.

Anonymous said...

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs covered "Gimme Some Truth" on the second volume of Under the Covers. Not the strongest cut on the record, alas. But it was pretty clear they'd picked it for contemporary relevance.

Anonymous said...

I was in a store a while back and swore
I heard a recording of a woman vocalist doing a version of "Tenderness on the Block" - mcpart

steves said...

"And was Generation X's 'Gimme Some Truth' ok?"

Forgot all about them. But it was 'eh.'

TMink said...

I need to hear She Said She Said as a ska tune.

Trey

Peter said...

"The Kids Are Aright" makes a great power ballad.

Sal Nunziato said...

Shawn Colvin recorded a very uninspired "Tenderness On The Block."

Libby Spencer said...

Another listomania where I feel too uninformed to play, but one song did pop into my mind for this category. Don't kill me, but I'm thinking Donovan's Sunshine Superman has a lot of potential for a remake with new arrangements.

Libby Spencer said...

FYI Steve. I just tried to go over to Box Office and got a virus threat alert from my AVG saying some happysex site was trying to infect me.

John Fowler said...

BTW Steve, special thanks for all the selections this week - I was not aware of any of these (except the Cars, of course). Particularly liked the Knots & Crosses, plus the Warren Zevon & Brenda Holloway cuts.

I swear, this blog has taken over my life...
(ok, well, not quite, but still...)

Steve Simels said...

Shawn Colvin covered the Zevon song? Hmm...I think I need to check that out, even if it is uninspired.

And Libby -- that virus at Box Office should have been taken care of. I'll go see what's what.

MBowen said...

There are a couple of Richard Thompson songs that I always thought could have been hits: an album track called "Missie How You Let Me Down" was a natural for Rod Stewart at the time it was released, and "Waltzing's For Dreamers" could be a hit for any one of a number of country artists.

Dan said...

Well I have a hard time thinking about who should cover what... Elvis Costello should cover everything, right? Or should have 15 years ago, anyway. But I did have a little mini-obsession with Every Little Bit Hurts not long ago. My favorite version after Brenda Holloway's was probably the Spencer Davis / Stevie Winwood version. Gladys Knight's was good too. Then there a version by someone named Vivian Green... Wikipedia tells me, 'She ... played Brenda Holloway in an episode of the first season of NBC's drama series American Dreams, entitled "The Carpetbaggers" (originally aired on April 6, 2003), performing a rendition of Holloway's 1964 hit "Every Little Bit Hurts"."' So I guess that doesn't really count as a cover, exactly. She does a nice job, though. Was that show any good??