Monday 3 December 2012

AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs (News, Views and Music Issue 173 Top 10)

Every so often a band will take it upon themselves to re-record one of their ‘classic’ songs, usually with disastrous results. All the nuances that made the originals so entertaining and memorable – a vocal line here, a sensitive backing there – will be ‘updated’ to sound more contemporary, even though the original was pretty timeless in the first place. There are several reasons why AAA bands might choose to re-record a classic: some do it for big anniversaries, some do it to make a statement about the differences between ‘then’ and ‘now’, some do it for fun – and some are simply doing it to chase record sales.Anyway here, this week, is every instance we can think of where a band returns to a past classic in chronological order of re-recordings (note: live recordings, demos, alternate takes and remixes don’t count!)

The Beach Boys “I Get Around/Little Deuce Coupe” (originals released as singles in 1964/63 and re-recordings released on ‘Beach Boys Party!’ 1966)

‘Beach Boys Party’ is a strange record. It was recorded in a frantic evening in the studio when Capitol told the band they were taking too long to finish ‘Pet Sounds’ and they needed a product now. Rather than compromise on his vision Brian led his fellow Beach Boys and various family and friends into some acoustic unplugged versions of several songs they loved (including three Beatles songs) and then ‘overdubbed’ fake party sounds over the top (if you listen hard you can hear Mike Love having a conversation with himself as one point!) Running out of other people’s material to cover, the band hit on ‘covering’ their own and treated two of their best loved (and easiest to play!) songs to an acoustic reading. The band aren’t taking things seriously and end up on the floor in a heap of giggles and gibberish, not to mention forgetting the words to a song they’d played every night for two years (‘I’m not bragging babe...oh yeah!’), but its still fascinating to hear such a different version of the song. With the electric noise removed these two songs stop sounding like bragging teenagers and already sound like more adult, sighing works, the nostalgia in the room clear for everyone to hear.

Nils Lofgren and Grin/Crazy Horse “Beggar’s Day” (originally released on the ‘Crazy Horse’ album in 1971, re-recording released on Grin’s ‘Gone Crazy’ album in 1973)

Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten was in a bad way in 1970-71 after becoming a drug addict almost overnight (he’d die of an overdose in 1972). He needed propping up from someone – and Nils, younger and bouncier, the yin to Whitten’s worn out yang, was the perfect discovery. Nils had first come to the band’s attention when he turned up backstage at a Neil Young gig and played for the maestro his first batch of songs (mainly recorded on the first ‘Grin’ album). After Crazy Horse were ‘sacked’ during the making of ‘After The Goldrush’ Nils stayed friends with the Horse and agreed to help out on their first LP when it became clear that Whitten was struggling. Beggar’s Day, one of three Lofgren songs that made the album (he co-wrote its most famous song ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ un-credited) is perfect for the Lofgren-Whitten pairing; it’s a snarling anthem about bad luck that’s perfectly balanced between the more hopeful Lofgren and the seemingly doomed Whitten that’s one of the three great classic songs from the album. Nils was running short of material by the time of his fourth LP ‘Gone Crazy’ in 1973 (his last with his first, rough and ready but under-rated band) and recorded this song again. Slower-paced and less direct, it doesn’t have the same impact as the original but is interesting for fans to hear as Nils more or less sings Danny’s parts from the original version (with his younger brother Tom singing his old harmony parts), like as treaty on life being passed down to a younger more naive generation. This second version, recorded a year after Whitten’s death, is depicted as a ‘eulogy’ to Nils’ lost comrade on the original sleeve.

Lindisfarne “Lady Eleanor/Fog On Tyne/Meet Me On The Corner/Run For Home/Warm Feeling/Clear White Light” (all released between 1969 and 1978, re-recordings released in 1987 on ‘C’mon Everybody”)

As we mentioned a few issues back, there are several great reasons for recording a record – and some really bad ones. Someone told Lindisfarne they could make a bucket load of money re-recording old 50s classics for the low budget company K-Tel who even provided a cheesy record cover and a truly mind-bogglingly awful TV advert to go with it. Needing the money, the band complied on a spirited but awfully misguided plod through three ‘medleys’ of hoary old classics whose only bonus for Lindisfans is that it gave old boy Simon Cowe and new boy Marty Craggs the rare chance to sing on a few songs. Slightly better was side four (this being a double set back in the days of vinyl) which featured re-recordings of seven Lindisfarne classics. Recorded in a hurry, with some twee synthesiser chirping in the background, none of them come close to eclipsing the original, except for a note-for-note re-creation of ‘Warm Feeling’ which makes you wonder why they bothered. However the closest to being a necessary part of your collection is a heavily re-arranged ‘Clear White Light’, whose extended 1980s re-creation, complete with a new hookline for the vocal, is at least worth hearing alongside the earlier, close to perfection original. The album flopped, the band got even further into debt with their credibility smashed and the only real good thing you can say about this entry is that we managed to avoid a whole article without mentioning the ‘other’ Lindisfarne re-recording travesty: ‘Fog On The Tyne ‘91’ with footballer Paul Gascoigne!

The Searchers “Needles and Pins” (original released as a single 1964, re-recording released as a single in 1988)

The Searchers celebrated their 25th anniversary with a rather drastic and awfully 80s version of one of their most lasting songs. Alas everything that made the original so compelling – jangly guitar, sensitive lead vocal, subtle backing – is replaced by a noisy, ineffective synthesiser that makes the real emotion of the song sound cold and lifeless. To be fair, everything sounded like this back in 1988 so The Searchers can’t be held wholly to blame and frankly it was just welcome having The Searchers making a record again – but its a shame the band chose one of their deepest and best recordings for the re-make rather than their effortless pop (a 1980s ‘When You Walk In The Room’ or even ‘Sweets For My Sweet’ would have been great!)

Lulu “Shout” (original released as a single in 1964, re-recording released as a single in 1988)

WE-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ell you know this recording makes me sick, the Lulu of 1988 representing everything the Lulu of 1964 would have hated. To be fair Lulu’s career had been out of control for a while and it wasn’t her faut, poor thing, after a horrible decade where everything that could go wrong did go wrong (her blossoming in the 1990s, especially as a writer for the first time, is a joy to behold). I guess this record’s biggest claim to fame was that it helped kick-start the boom for nostalgia in the 1990s, which saw outtakes sets greatest hits compilations and box sets become the norm for old recording artists, although its not the best hook to hang a decade’s worth of inspired re-releases for the collector on. Interestingly this single was by the far the biggest seller out of all the re-recordings on this list barring George’s – proof perhaps that the original record really was a masterclass in the right singer taking on the right song at the right period, even if by 1988 the 15-year-old Lulu’s masterclass in singing seems a long way away...

The Hollies “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” (original released on ‘Distant Light’ album 1971, re-recording released on ‘The Coconut Collection’ in Germany 1993)

The Hollies only ever released this song in Germany as an oddity on an album of remixes, so we shouldn’t be too cruel to them. However, it’s probably fair to say that fans around the rest of the world aren’t missing much by not owning any of the ‘Coconut Sessions’. Hideously 80s (despite the 1993 release date), Clarkey has to compete with a bank of synthesisers for his lead vocal, while the classic Hollies harmonies are missing. Even worse, the spidery but powerful guitar hook that makes the track has been watered down to the extent that its gone from being one of the most thrilling rockers of the 1970s to sounding like the junk everyone else was producing in this anonymous style in this period.

10cc “I’m Not In Love” (original released on ‘The Original Soundtrack’ in 1975 and the re-recording released on ‘Mirror Mirror’ in 1995)

At least 10cc were trying to do something different with their re-make of probably their best known song. Reducing the velvety smooth production and epic orchestra of voices sound of the original to a bare-bones acoustic guitar and two vocals means we concentrate more on the clever lyrics and Eric Stewart’s lovely tune rather than the gimmicks, but sadly without them much of the mystery and the twists and turns in the song (when it becomes more and more clear the narrator doesn’t believe a word he’s saying) don’t show through as well. This version –labelled as ‘Acoustic ‘95’ - isn’t a substitute for the original then, but it does offer a new way of hearing the song and, judging by Youtube at least, seems to be very popular as lots of people have re-arranged the song that way.

The Monkees “Circle Sky” (original released on ‘Head’ in 1968 and the re-recording released on ‘JustUs’ in 1997)

The Monkees surprised many when they reunited as a full four-piece in 1997 for the first time, recording their first album as a quartet since ‘Head’ in 1968 and a bizarre TV special. Best of all The Monkees were back playing their own instruments for the first time since ‘Headquarters’ in 1967 and cooked up quite a storm – unfortunately the songs they wrote for this album were atrocious. The best actual ‘song’ by a country mile was Mike Nesmith’s ‘Circle Sky’, a song last heard on ‘Head’ all those years ago and best played by the band as a powerful rock trio. I haven’t got a clue what the words mean (reputedly they were made up by Nesmith on the spot to give him something to sing) but the riff is a good one and its good to hear the band have a second crack at it. Alas this re-recording is a bit too ‘grungy’ and overladen with booming echo for its own good, slowed down to a crawl at times, the band slurring their words and trying to make a ‘statement’ – this song sounded better as a pure rock and roll slice of nonsense.

George Harrison “My Sweet Lord” (original released on ‘All Things Must Pass’ 1970 and re-recording re-released as a single in 2000)

George Harrison knew he was dying when he re-released his most famous solo track ‘My Sweet Lord’, even sticking in a risqué joke with the publishing credits (RIP Publishing). However his intriguing half-remix, half-re-recording showed he wasn’t losing any of his artistic abilities as it’s arguably one of the better ones on this list. Like many a 1990s song the track feels like a collage of lots of genres stuck together, with an opening sampled burst of synthesiser and lots of wacky overdubs that the 1970 George wouldn’t have considered. It sounds like a less earnest but still entertaining record that made for an interesting moment 30 years on from its original release, so close to the millennium. The best thing about the single was the re-worked cover art, however, with George’s tranquil garden filled with gnomes now facing onto a concrete jungle of roads and roundabouts! The single even made #1 in the charts – though probably more out of sympathy with George’s admission of cancer and his scare with the burglar who broke into his house and tried to kill him.

Cat Stevens/Yusuf “I Think I See A Light” (original released on ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ 1970 and re-recording released on ‘An Other Cup’ in 2005)

‘I Think I See The Light’ is one of my favourite Cat Stevens songs in the original recording, contrasting a dark, troubled world with the brightness of realisation, with a magical hook and one of the best vocals Cat ever recorded, making the most of his octave range. The re-recording is less successful, partly because of a slower tempo but mainly because Yusuf (as he now was) is less elusive about what light he’s actually seen. When he recorded the original Cat was recovering from a nasty bout of tb that killed off his career and left him bedridden, with the new songs Cat was writing nearly about redemption and about getting down to the things that matter in life before they’re taken away. By the time he retires in 1978, however, Cat has converted to Islam and this 2005 version is clearly all about religion. It’s still a great song though, too good to be ruined whatever is done to it as a re-recording and its welcome that Cat recorded one of his comparatively obscurer songs rather than giving us ‘Peace Train’ or ‘Morning Has Broken’ yet again.

That’s all for this week. We’ll see you next issue when we’ll be celebrating the success of this colum

n by re-recording our first issue (only joking – we’re going to wait for an anniversary to peg that on!)

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
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2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

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229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

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238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

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259) #Coronadocstock

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