Amoeblog

In Praise of the “Troubled” Artist and Bloated, Overreaching Album

Posted by Billy Gil, August 9, 2012 05:21pm | Post a Comment
smashing pumpkinsToday I woke up with the song “Raindrops + Sunshowers” by The Smashing Pumpkins in my head for no particular reason. I was grateful — despite the dubious quality of that syrupy, electro-shoegaze song, the tunes that usually populate my head first thing in the morning aren’t usually the kinds of things you actually want to hear upon waking. Nu Shooz's “I Can’t Wait” is great and all, but waking up humming it, as I often do, is like being slowly slapped awake. But I digress. Why the hell I was humming a not-great song from my favorite band’s worst album, who knows. But I relistened to Machina later in the day, trying to avoid fast-forwarding to the good bits and listening to the regrettable parts, just as I had with the recently released (and recently troubled) Oceania, and realized part of the fun of a band like The Smashing Pumpkins is the digging. Make no mistake, digging is not necessary on Siamese Dream (or Adore or the recently reissued Pisces Iscariot, in my book), but even on their other great albums, Mellon Collie, Gish and Machina II, yeah, there are parts you want to skip past. I’d say that’s true of most bands. But what sets the band apart is not only how frustratingly uneven they can be, as I’ve had to admit over the years, but how much you still care about that band anyway.

Continue reading...

The Art of the LP Cover- Celebrating Cassettes

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, September 11, 2010 10:05pm | Post a Comment

Maxell Advert w/ Peter Murphy


Memorex Advert

what came first?...the cover or the cover version...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 11, 2007 05:32pm | Post a Comment
I don't know what it is that gets me about cover songs. But I really do like them. It is always fun to hear one of your favorite bands cover some horrible song that was not really good before they covered it. Or to hear  some band do a sort of tribute to some awesome song you loved in your youth. As I listen to more and  more music I also find out that some of the songs that I loved forever and thought were originals were actually covers of much older songs. I didn't grown in the girl group 60's or the Motown 70's. So many of the songs that I originally heard in the 80's and 90's that I thought were originals, were actually just covers. When I bought the  Siouxsie & The Banshees "Through the Looking Glass" cassette and listened to it for the first time, I had no idea it was all covers. It only took me a couple years to figure it out. I had not heard Television and Iggy Pop yet. I also heard most of the covers on the This Mortal Coil albums for the first time as "This Mortal Coil" songs.  It is weird to grow up hearing one version of a song only to learn later that there is some older original version that actually inspired the version I grew up loving. How would I know that the Soft Cell song "Tainted Love" was actually performed 10 years before I was born by the great Gloria Jones. The song was then covered by Ruth Swan in 1975. After the Soft Cell version that I grew up with in the early 80's, the song has of course been covered countless more times. The song has been performed by Blue Oyster Cult, Coil, Marilyn Manson, and the Pussycat Dolls. Rihanna even sampled the Soft Cell version a couple of years ago for her song "S.O.S."

There have been many entire tribute albums over the years. Some have been great. Most have been pretty bad. The best covers tend to turn up as b-sides and bonus tracks on actual artists albums. Sometimes they work there ways into the live shows and then end up as extra tracks on reissues or singles. They tend to also turn up on soundtracks. The great Cat Power will release her second entire album of covers early next year. The first one was fantastic. There is a great website to search for all your favorite cover songs. You can look at it here. Some of my favorite covers over the years have been covers of new wave and 80's songs by artists in other genres. I absolutely love Johnny Cash's covers of "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode and "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails. I don't know why but I really love Rammstein's cover of "Stripped" by Depeche Mode. And even though this song was a bit overplayed, I still have a special place in my heart for Frente's cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order. Placebo have a whole bonus disc of cover songs. They do great covers of "Running up that Hill" by Kate Bush and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" by The Smiths. Xiu Xiu does an amazing cover of "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman. I also love Low's incredible version of "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" by The Smiths. These are just some of my favorites. I could go on forever. The band Japancakes do an entire album cover of "Loveless" by My Bloody Valentine. The original is one of my favorite albums and they really do a great job covering the entire album. But I also love those cover versions that you really only need to hear once. Sometimes I just need to laugh and some covers often do the trick. William Shatner did a brilliant cover of "Common People" by Pulp. Me First & the Gimme Gimmes do a great cover of "Jolene" on the their last country album. There have been many brilliant covers of Jolene over the years. My favorite being Strawberry Switchblade. But it is really about the b-side of "I Will Always Love You" on the recently released single. Whitney Houston already ruined the song for the "Bodyguard" soundtrack. The song was originally by the great Dolly Parton for the movie "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." That Whitney Houston song was so overplayed that she almost made me never want to listen to the Dolly version again. Me First sort of make up for it with their version. It is at least meant to be funny.

Continue reading...