Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When is a cover not a cover?

OK, maybe I've just got too much time on my hands, but this question has been occuring to me for a while...And where does that leave prefering one version over another?

First up, 'China Girl.' Co-written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie in 1977, it appeared on Iggy's The Idiot in 1977, and then on Bowie's Let's Dance in 1983. I suppose that Bowie's version is a cover coming technically afterwards, but he did produce The Idiot. And I sorta prefer Iggy's voice on his version, but i love the bass on the Bowie version. Hmm, go figure...

Iggy Pop -'China Girl.' mp3

David Bowie -'China Girl.' mp3

And what about 'Shipbuilding?' Elvis Costello co-write this poignant ballad about the Falklands' War, in 1982, Robert Wyatt recorded it first and had ahit with it, then Costello recorded his version for his own Punch The Clock LP in 1983. I like Wyatt's voice, but Chet Baker's trumpet is heartbreaking.

Robert Wyatt -'Shipbuilding.' mp3

Elvis Costello -'Shipbuilding.' mp3

As for this last one, well, I guess it always was a James Kirk track, even if there were twenty years between the version he did in Orange Juice and then recording it for his own solo You Can Make It If You Boogie in 2003. Or was it?

James Kirk -'Felicity.' mp3

Please leave any thoughts below...


Anonymous said...

Ed, surely a cover is a song performed or recorded by an artist that was written by someone else?


larzini said...

'Nothing Compares 2 U' comes to mind. Prince wrote it, but it never appeared on any album until later in his career, but I wouldn't consider Sinead O'Connor's version a cover. It's her song now. No matter what Prince does with it.

Ed said...

Mike - I would normally agree with you, these ones I picked here go against that slightly, as which is the cover or the original with the examples posted above.

Larzini- very good point. Same could be said for Soft Cell's cover of 'Tainted Love' when Marilyn Manson covered it in 2002, it was definitely a cover of the Soft Cell version, not the Gloria Jones version.


Anonymous said...

Great music is written and then it can be interpreted by others.

think Mozart playing and creating music and then the current classical interpretations out now.

I think great rock should be viewed along the same vein.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Felicity was a William Shatner song ..... ;)

Ed said...

juan -excellent point. I guess it's that with rock we tend to take the first version that can be available to hear as being the original and then any others as being the 'cover.'

Anonymous -Shatner has covered Felicity?! Find his 'versions' interesting to listen to, but have never actually felt the urge to buy them.


Michael said...

Was it David Gedge who introduced thier cover of Felicity for John Peel with "This is a William Shatner song"?
And, being a trainspotter, wasn't the first version of Nothing Compares 2 U by The Family.
Oh well, back on my head...

Ed said...

Michael -think you may be right on the first, and i know you are defniitely right on the second.

Trainspotters help keep the world on track!


Neil Cake said...

Really I think the orginal is by whoever wrote the song - even if it wasn't the first version released.

As for Marilyn Manson covering Soft Cell's song rather than Gloria Jones'; I would interpret that as a cover of a Gloria Jones song, but based on the Soft Cell version.

Ed said...

Neil -perhaps the most astute comment so far, and good point re: Gloria jones/Soft Cell/Marilyn Manson.
Wow, this has really received some interesting feedback


Sky Clearbrook said...

I was always fascinated by the Massive Attack / Tricky crossover.

Tricky co-wrote and performed on "Karmacoma" and "Eurochild" from MA's "Protection" album. Both tracks found their way onto Tricky's "Maxinquaye" in completely different guises as "Overcome" and "Hell Is Round The Corner" respectively.