It’s the first part of an EXTRA-SIZED CROSSOVER with Fire and Water Records! Ryan and Neil, The Brothers Daly, join me for a look at cover songs. What makes a good cover song? Which covers are iconic? What covers have surpassed the originals? Which ones do we personally love? Join us as we each go through a list of five cover songs and talk about what makes them stand out. Then, in May, go over to Fire and Water Records to listen to part two!
You can listen here:
Apple Podcasts: Pop Culture Affidavit
Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page
If you’re interested in listening to the songs that we talk about and are featured on this episode, here’s a YouTube playlist:
It’s very difficult to comment on a three hour podcast from a faulty middle-aged memory days after the fact without notes of any kind, but I’ll do the best I can manage.
The Bangles are an act that I like too much to stick to just the hits, but not quite enough to dive into the full discography. So basically, I ripped my father’s copy of Different Light, listen to most of it, and supplemented with singles. Anyway, yeah, Susanna Hoffs is hotness eternal, but I also kinda dug Michael Steele, and the Bangles were one of my favorite bands in the ’80s. That favor was concentrated in 1987-89, with “A Hazy Shade of Winter” coming out right when I started to become laser-focused on popular music. I absolutely agree that their version completes the composition in a way Simon & Garfunkel couldn’t quite manage. It was so evocative, settling into the blue shades of the video on my emotional spectrum.
The entire time Ryan was talking about The Gourds’ “Gin and Juice,” I was thinking about Dynamite Hack’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood”, so I was glad Tom eventually referenced it. I was not aware that the unfamiliar bluegrass cover predated the one I knew by four years. I think they’re both fun takes, but I have too strong an aversion to post ’80s country to fully appreciate the Gourds. Those accents are triggering.
Not gonna lie, I was literally, physically sneering while Halestorm’s cover of “All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love To You)” played. I put the video on as I started typing this, and it wasn’t as bad when they were doing it faithfully, but all their dumb rock flourishes in the excerpt really turned me off. A clear case of not actually getting the material, but simply repackaging someone else’s success for their own audience. It’s Heart doing adult contemporary, basically the best possible incarnation of that premise, but there’s no denying that fact. This cover is like the punk rock poodle from Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. I’d never heard of Halestorm before Neil talked about them on F&W Records, and after going on a dive based on his enthusiasm… I still don’t get it, at all. Aggressively uninteresting music. I stopped watching Rick Beato videos when he did a top rock singers list that was almost entirely old white men, but even more specifically when he left Ann Wilson off the list in favor of Lana Del Rey. Comparing Lizzy Hale to Ann Wilson isn’t as unserious, but it did cross my mind.
I’ve always contended that Foo Fighters are underrated and Hole underrated, in part because Dave Grohl is a guy who’s easy to love and Courtney Love is a female who very much is not. I appreciate more Hole songs and more deeply than FF, but also FF kicks ass and I will get defensive against anyone coming for either one of them. Especially in light of the sainthood of Kurt Cobain, it’s important to note that Nirvana only have two objectively good albums, and both its offspring can claim more. I’d stack either band against any of greater esteem from other eras. Also agree that “Gold Dust Woman” improves mightily over the original, although I’ll confess that I assumed Tom was setting up “Landslide” (surely it’ll turn up eventually?) Grohl has done so many covers, and I’d probably favor “Down In The Park.” As for Fleetwood Mac, my introduction was Tango in the Night and the touring around it. One of my girlfriend’s mom was big into Mac, and especially Stevie Nicks, so that probably amplified my awareness. Their greatest hits was in the selection of first CDs we got as part of a record club promotion.
“What I Like About You” was a song that I was probably introduced to by Martha Quinn and/or beer commercials. I always loved that anti-glamorous video of the Romantics’ singer/drummer flinging spittle and pulling stupid faces while trying to perform both jobs simultaneously on camera. Since when is Poison a Tuesday night tribute band? Were they actually playing that high school from the video?
I never made the connection between “Jack-Ass” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, probably because I know the latter best from a not-great Hole cover on a Crow soundtrack. I favor Beck, in general and in this specific case, although I’ll give The Them the win on the base song. The opening is kinda “Stand by Me” though, innit?