Cover Me

17 10 2012

I was at work the other night, and I heard the worst cover of a song I think I’ll ever hear on the radio.

I work night fills at Big W and when the store closes you can hear the radio a lot clearer than before.  Apparently the radio station is “Big W radio” and is supported by the likes of BMI and Sony music. I struggle to believe this given such the small selection of songs that we get to here. I mean, just the other night, they played the same P!nk song twice in 15 minutes.

Anyway, I don’t know who performed the cover, but it was Cold Chisels ‘Cheap Wine’; a real Aussie rock song that I really like. Well, the cover was shocking. I know that by covering a song, you are paying tribute to both the song and artist, but this cover just did not do that. This is because it was performed in a “corner cafe, alfresco dining” type of way that really did not capture the spirit of the song.

Not the place for Chisel.

This got me thinking about covers though and how I don’t really like them. I say this because of the reason mentioned above, it’s hard to capture that same spirit as the original had. But covers also make me grin just a bit as it allows me to mock my sister about her type of music a bit.

My dad and I are both agree that the best music is from the ‘70s and ‘80s,  and that the only reason modern artists would do covers from this era is because they tend to agree and are just copying what they know will sell.

My sister is a massive fan of ‘Glee’ (why didn’t you just say she was a Gleek? –ed.), and tried to persuade me once that I would like it too because they sang a lot of songs that I liked and stayed very true to the original version. “Hmm”, I thought to myself. I gave it a try and I didn’t even last 1 song it was that far removed from the original. How is this true to this?!?! Needless to say, I never listened to another Glee cover again (unless they played a snippet on an ad).

But in recent times though, I have come across a few covers that I do like. I like them so much that I’m prepared to say that they are better than the original (:O)

The first of these is ‘Black Betty’. I really dig the ’77 original by Ram Jam. I love the way it’s performed in a kind of daggy way but still has a lot of attitude to it. But sorry, the Spider Bait version just blows it out of the water. It has a much fuller, heavier sound that just takes the song to that next degree. That punch that the original was lacking is added here and it’s hard for me to pick fault with this song. And it goes for a minute longer.

The Church (of course they had to get a mention – ed.) did a whole album of covers in 1999, it was called “A Box Of Birds”. They covered 10 songs, but arguably the best of them was the album closer, ‘Cortez The Killer’, originally sung by Neil Young. Like Black Betty, the Church cover has a much fuller sound and does not hold back, no really, it goes for over 10 minutes. Every time I listen to the song, I can feel the passion through the speakers, and given what I said earlier, that’s pretty impressive. But I just really like Kilbey’s vocal style and MWP’s guitar playing (basically there’s bias in this choice – ed.) Yes, but thought and consideration did go into it, because I don’t like all the songs on that album; Silver Machine for example (of which there appears to be no YouTube video – ed.).

I’m guessing we still haven’t got a new Art Director yet? (Nope – ed.)

The last cover that I think is way better than the original, I only found recently. It’s Icehouse’s version of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. I can’t get this song out of my head. Davies’ voice was made for this song. The ironic thing about this song though, is that Davies’ career kind of went full circle by this point, as Icehouse (Flowers) started out as a covers band. As a sporting anthem though, this version is my new rev up song (but you don’t play any sports – ed.) no, but you still need to be in the mood to watch State of Origin, Bathurst 1000 and the likes. (The funny thing about what you just said though, is the song was actually covered for the use of a balleted.) No comment.


So there you have it. I hate covers, but I also secretly (not anymore – ed.) like them.




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