Why do bands do nearly identical cover versions?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jared Lash, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Just as the title indicates. There are some terrible covers/remakes out there (look up Hillary Duff doing "My Generation" if you want to punish your ears) but I'm talking about versions where a major label band does a version as close to the original as possible. Fine for a gigging cover band, but what's the point of putting a song like that on record?

    If you're going to cover a song, why not (for better or worse) make it your own. When done right, those are the only covers worth listening to.

    I can't think of one cover of they type I'm talking about that doesn't absolutely pale when compared to the original. I guess if you were doing a little known song or one from a band that most people hadn't heard of, that's one thing, but often it seems like the song being covered was a single or a well known song from the original band.

    For example, Disturbed doing Midlife Crisis. The original by FNM.

    RHCP doing "If You Want Me to Stay". Sly & the Family Stone doing the original.

    There are a ton of others that I can't think of at the moment. I just don't understand.
  2. Yvon


    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
  3. For two covers that totally change the whole vibe and even meaning and feel of the originals, check out:

    Garage Mahal doing 'Material Girl'...fantastic slow R&B groove instrumental.

    Greg Laswell covering 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun'. This is really stunning. It turns a chirpy little pop tune into a dark, brooding sort of ballad.

    Very cool stuff!

  4. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    The Cardigans are interesting. I can dig that cover. I'm sure some people will absolutely hate it. But at least they did their own thing. Being a big Talking Heads fan, when I heard they were doing a cover of "Burning Down the House" with Tom Jones I was prepared to hate it. But it's just too campy and fun to hate. Plus I think their singer is hot, especially considering that voice. For comparison, here's the original.

    Some more examples I thought of:

    Both of these bands use a slightly more aggressive or more modern instrumentation than the originals but otherwise are just bad copies. Sadly, both covers had some radio/Billboard success.

    Mrs. Robinson covered by the Lemonheads. And the original.

    Boys of Summer covered by The Ataris. And the original.

    Ok, so the Atari's changed one line "Blag Flag sticker on a Cadillac" instead of "Dead Head sticker" which to me is just pretentious and dumb. Were they even old enough to listen to Black Flag when they were together? I didn't listen to them until after they broke up (which happened when I was eight or nine).
  5. I personally always preferred covers as close to the original as possible. FNM's Easy Like Sunday Morning and Ugly Kid Joe's Cat's in the Cradle are great examples, IMO. While it's not super close, I also love Disturbed's Land of Confusion.

    That Midlife Crisis cover shows that David Draiman should not try and cover Mike Patton!
  6. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    I always thought of it as a band playing a song they liked, makes more sense when its released as a song on a live album though, I do agree its strange to record a near carbon copy of the original for a cd.
  7. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Lol, I far preferred Disturbeds version!:D

    But then I'm a longtime fan of Disturbed.
  8. I liked that version, and I'm a big Disturbed and FNM fan. I also love Draiman's voice... I just don't think he does a good Patton. I don't think many people could! :)
  9. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Haha, I've not actually listened to FNM before, mabye I should! Their voices are indeed very different.
  10. Simple enough. It's fun. Music, despite what you read here or on any forum, is not about the money. It's not always about "art." It's fun. It's joy. Even the "professionals" who play for a living would probably still be playing at home even if they weren't getting paid for playing. Just because you're a world reknown "artist" doesn't mean you lose that joy of hearing a song you like and want to emulate that.


    The irony of a Grateful Dead sticker on a Cadillac is that 20 years before Henley recorded BOS, most fans of the Grateful Dead would not have wanted any sort of job that would lend them the financial means to own a new Cadillac. The Cadillac being a symbol of wealth. For the same reason, 20 years before the Ataris released BOS, someone who was a Black Flag fan would not have wanted a job that would have given them the financial means to own a new Cadillac. These days, Boomers are the wealthy- the Gen X kids that grew up on Black Flag and the Circle Jerks are now 40-ish and are becoming the wealthy.
  11. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Sometimes I think bands do an OK job, but I guess I just don't see the point.

    As a side note, the reason FNM's Easy is good (IMO anyway) is because they were a funk/metal/experimental band that played it straight on that cut. Too easy to do the Limp Bizkit "Faith" route. By the way, his cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" also fits on this list and is terrible.

    Plus to me it was a bit of a thumb in the eye of their less open minded fans since it replaced War Pigs (another good, if too similar cover) on later pressings of "The Real Thing". War Pigs was a bit of an interesting choice to begin with since Ozzy's reputation was at an all-time low around that time.

    That's my point. Play it live. I saw Audioslave do a cover of "Seven Nation Army" that (other than the bass playing the line rather than a Whammy'd guitar) was exactly the same. And Beck did a goofy montage of pop songs (Beyonce, Justin Timberlake) that was pretty straight other than being tongue in cheek. Live is a whole different story. But why record a cover version with no originality?

    This also bothers me because when I hate a song and it comes back almost exactly the same, I have to hear it all over again. "Boys of Summer" fits in that category.

    I think I'm most impressed when a band can take a song I didn't like and do a cover that I do. Reminds me of the scene in High Fidelity when Lisa Bonet's character is singing "Baby I Love Your Way" and Rob says, "Is that Peter ****ing Frampton" and then listens a bit and says, "I used to hate this song. But now I kinda like it."

    Course that's mostly because Lisa Bonet is smoking hot, but I digress.
  12. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I get that. But why put it on record? And especially why release it as your own single?

    I understood the reference on both counts. I just think it's dumb to do a note for note reproduction of a song and change one lyric. Especially since, as I pointed out, the Ataris couldn't have actually grown up listening to Black Flag.
  13. Dude, pick up a copy of The Real Thing and Angel Dust. Their best work, IMO. Very experimental and borders on bizarre at points, but great, great albums.

    Never heard that. I need to go track it down...
  14. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    I will, as soon as possible.
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    What? The Behind Blue Eyes cover? It's awful. Some additional crappy synth noises and effects added and that dumb robot voice break. But that doesn't change the fact that at it's heart it's just a bad remake of the Who version with nothing original to add.
  16. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    [Slight thread derail]

    Yeah, Faith No More is still one of my favorite bands. No one has come along that is quite like them. At least IMO since most of the bands that cite FNM as an influence I can't stand. Billy Gould is a great bass player as well. Had a big hand in songwriting, awesome tone, really versatile and played great lines that were simple when they needed to be but could show his chops when given a chance.

    My favorite albums (in order)

    Angel Dust
    Album of the Year
    King for A Day, Fool For a Lifetime
    The Real Thing
    Introduce Yourself

    Really the first four (all with Mike Patton) are all really good. Introduce Yourself is Ok.

    [/Slight thread derail]
  17. KsToaDangr


    Apr 17, 2007
    Columbia, SC
    Speaking of taking a "chirpy little pop tune" and turning it into a dark, brooding ballad, has anyone heard Type O Negative's cover of Summer Breeze? It was on the I Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack.
  18. Jonny B

    Jonny B Guest

    Nov 5, 2006
    I prefer when a band makes a cover their own. Why would I want to hear someone play a song exactly the same way as the original, when I can just listen to the original instead? For better or worse, if you're going to cover someone else's music, make it your own. At least then I have two different versions to choose from. As a huge Maiden fan, I fell in love with Sign's version of Run to the Hills.

    By the way, I love those covers by The Cardigans. Especially Burning Down the House.
  19. I did not even know they ever covered this. I'm embarrassed for them!!! It's a close remake, but LB has no business covering a Who tune!
  20. Why not? If it came out good, why not?

    John Lennon did a whole album of cover stuff (granted the impetus of the album was to avoid a lawsuit) and his version of "Stand By Me" is one of those lasting songs that come out of his solo work.

    When I was a kid, my first 45 we put out was one of our songs b/w the Three Dog Night song "One." We originally started doing the song because for whatever reason, those lyrics meant something to me at the time. We were high on doing it and decided to put it out on the record. Nothing more.

    They most certainly could have grown up listening to Black Flag (and probably did). And they most certainly could have seen what those very same anti-establishment folks were doing 20 years after they were scrawling anarchy logos on their school desks. The idea of Rollins doing Gap ads is as surreal as Jerry Garcia selling neck ties. Fact is, those old punk rock bands are bigger now than they were "back in the day." I think I could count on one hand how many kids would have had a Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, DRI, JFA or any other "punk rock" shirt or something when I was in high school. How many do you see kids wearing these days?

    As far as referencing Black Flag... You understand the point, do you understand the target audience? For someone who's going to be into the Ataris, that person is generally have grown up with former Grateful Dead fans as the "establishment." In other words, the irony is lessened. For all we know- it may have even been a record company decision to change the lyric to have kids identify with it...