Research: Original Covers (part II)

Following the thread from part one, we keep exploring some interesting projects that are based around the concept of covers.

La Celebración (Various Artists, curated by Radio Colmena)

A compilation celebrating 10 years of this stronghold of independent radio. It’s worth of mention not only because some of the tracks are excellent, but also because of the criteria by which it was curated: each band was told that they could choose any independent release from a certain year: 2011 —birth of the station— for one band, 2012 for the next one, etc. until reaching 2020, the year of the celebration.

Some noteworthy facts: 

  • Amor Elefante is both on the side of the bands doing the covers (Cascada, by Lxs Rusos Hijos De Puta) and the bands being covered (San Cayetano, by Melanie Williams)
  • It was an album recorded during lockdown and at full speed —very few months went by between the idea and the release—, with some bands delivering their material within a week.

Also on Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music

Tainted Love

Another example of how a song is transformed with the passing of versions. The most popular version of this song —the one by Soft Cell— is not the original,  it’s a cover. The original was performed and released by Gloria Jones in 1964 —written by Ed Cobb and arranged in motown-style for a big band. It failed to chart, while the 80’s version broke every record (43 weeks in the charts!)

In high quality on Tidal. Also on Spotify and Apple Music

Almost 20 years later, Marilyn Manson recorded a new version —based on the Soft Cell arrangement— for the soundtrack of Not Another Teen Movie. More distorted and spooky, obviously. 

At last, in 2006 Rihanna sampled big chunks of the 80’s version to build her song S.O.S.

Music Brokers

This label is one of the more solid precedents of recycling in the music industry, and probably the first Argentine label to achieve consistent international success. They gained notoriety through the infamous Bossa N’ Stones, very criticized back then but at the same time it was the best selling record of 2005, when the series began. 

In retrospect, even if the sound aesthetic is very far from the rawness of the original recording (Rolling Stones, Guns n’ Roses and a long etc.), I think there’s something pretty transgressor in removing the rock and roll out of rock and roll. From that moment forward, the atmosphere of hotels, restaurants and elevators would never be the same. 

A million-dollar idea for everyone involved, captured out of thin air in the middle of a very strange conversation. The story is great. To sum it up: the director of a very small independent label —focused on electronic music— read a review for one of their releases while waiting for a table at a restaurant very late at night. They had given them a bad review. He knew that the critic was the owner of a record store, so he stormed out and got there in the middle of the night. They had an argument about the review. Things got a bit hot, and at some point the record store guy told him: “Do you think I don’t know what the public wants?! They want the Rolling Stones catalog, but played with a bossa nova feel.”

So the label guy stopped dead on his tracks, thought about the idea for a moment and completely forgot about the bad review. The next minute he was offering him to make the record. And it was a hit.  

Also on Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music

Other releases worth of mention are the Vintage Bossa Café —same “lounge” plan but diverse in artists and genres to pick the songs from— and The Many Faces of…, where they compile recordings from artists from outside their official discography —for example of the different side projects or future releases by individual members of bands like The Ramones, Queen or Fleetwood Mac, along with live versions, orchestral arrangements, notable covers by other artists, or originals that the band covered. 

These last series are of enormous value and they are far from being the typical industry re-hash. The curatorial work is extensive and can save the fan a lot of time and money by gathering all the material in one place —and remastered— instead of having to play it from 30 different records (some of which aren’t easily available).

Dub Side Of The Moon

Another record that was trendy back then. This one and others by the same supergroup —for example Radiodread, OK Computer but played in a reggae key— would set a great landmark and other bands with a jamaican feel would copy the concept —for example the Green Album [technically el Álbum Verde], a compilation of South American reggae bands playing Beatles songs. 

Link to  Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music.

Scratch My Back (Peter Gabriel)

A very similar concept of what NOFX and Rancid did (we commented on this in our previous article; the bands covering each other’s songs) —although it didn’t come out as planned. 

Peter Gabriel approached a dozen contemporary artists he admired (Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Regina Spector, to name a few) with the idea of a double album: “You’ll scratch my back / And I’ll scratch yours”. Side one would be Gabriel covering those bands and artists, and side two would be the same people on the list covering one of his songs each. 

Because of schedule problems —some artists didn’t get to send their material on time— and reciprocity —Radiohead, Bowie and Neil Young declined the invitation— the covers of Gabriel’s songs were released as b-sides for some of the album’s promotional singles. Side two would finally be released three years later. As substitutes we would have Brian Eno (who wrote Heroes with David Bowie), Joseph Arthur and Feist. 

Link to  Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music.

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