Black Lives Matter. The fact that it needs to be said shows how very far we still have to go as a country. We hear you and we are with you.
written by Eddie Sayago
There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.
"You are encouraged to look up the original versions if you're never heard them. They blew my mind." - Ezra Furman, on the joy of song covers
Last year, Ezra Furman released an exclusive EP, Songs by Others, that had seven different takes on seven songs from different parts of rock 'n' roll. While any of the songs could have been featured here, one cover stands out in particular, especially since this time 10 years ago, many of us were eagerly anticipating the new album from the original creators of "I Can Change."
Exactly a decade ago, James Murphy and Co. released what was then their final album, This Is Happening, an album that would become one of the best of the year, if not the 2010s. Literally the center (track 5 of 9) of a record filled with Murphy's emotions no amount of synthesizers can hide, both vocals and synths blend together instead of competing with one another for the ears of the listener. "I Can Change" is the perfect song for a soundtrack to 2010, a year that feels and looks like it took place a lot longer than 10 years ago.
by Eddie Sayago
For this entry of Take Two, we look at a popular song from three decades ago that has become immensely popular thanks to a hit TV show, which has lead to memes and GIFs. To this writer’s surprise, it turns out that Tina Turner’s “The Best” is actually a cover itself...
Fun fact: Tina Turner's version is actually a cover. The O.G. of this stellar song goes to Bonnie Tyler. "The Best" is featured on her 1988 album Hide Your Heart, which was produced by Desmond Child (who had a very busy year, working with everyone from Joan Jett and Bon Jovi to Cher and Michael Bolton.) Tyler's recording was a Top Ten hit...in Norway. Hide Your Heart failed to chart on the Billboard charts.
by Eddie Sayago
Screamin' Jay Hawkins (original artist and recording)
From At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins (Okeh, 1956)
One of the most popular songs for the Halloween season is the signature song from Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who literally screamed, grunted, and moaned on what was originally going to be a traditional love pop ballad while in a recording session back in 1956. Most radio stations banned the track due to its "cannibalistic nature" yet it sold over a million copies in the U.S., thanks to his macabre live performances and eccentric lifestyle. (Which should been a limited series at the very least, which can include how he fathered somewhere between 57 to 75 children over the course of his lifetime.)
by Lesley Gwam
Until 1978, Chaka Khan was known as the powerhouse lead singer of Chicago funk band, Rufus. That changed, however, with the release of Chaka Khan’s eponymous debut solo album, which featured “I’m Every Woman” as its lead single.
Written by Ashford and Simpson of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” fame, “I’m Every Woman” begins with a riveting string arrangement accompanied by a funky bassline that immediately captivates the ear. Chaka’s powerful vocals and harmonies demonstrate the confidence that came to dominate her illustrious solo career; most noticeably at the bridge of the song, where Khan showcases the breadth of her vocal abilities.
Funny how I find myself in love with you.
If I could buy my reasoning, I’d pay to lose.
One half won’t do.
I’ll ask myself, ‘How much do you commit yourself?’
It’s my life. Don’t you forget. It’s my life. It never ends.
The title track from the 1984 album by New Wave band Talk Talk is a romantic declaration of personal insight set to an arrangement that features sweeping waves of synths washing over a jazz-tinged rhythm section. The pre-Animal Planet video for the song, which enjoyed heavy rotation on early MTV alternative music shows, uses a montage of wild creatures that, combined with the music, makes a connection between man and the world.
Video director Tim Pope wanted to make a statement against the rampant degree of lip-synching in music videos, so Lead singer Mark Hollis spends his time standing in a zoo, silent and immobile except for the animated squiggly lines dancing across his face. The images, music, and Hollis’ and Tim Friese-Greene impressionistic lyrics combine to create an effect that’s contemplative as well as pop-oriented.