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As you all know, Mary Tyler Moore is gone.

I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said – she was a TV staple of my childhood, and I do remember that final episode and what a big deal it was.

And with everyone talking about how revolutionary the show was in terms of featuring a female lead who wasn’t a housewife, I suppose it had some kind of background effect on me in terms of learning that women can be independent and have careers like anyone else. Which sounds obvious today, of course, but in 1970 this was still a new concept for many people. (So was the idea of putting a divorced female character on prime time TV, which was apparently the original premise, which CBS rejected.)

Anyway, among the tributes pouring in to MTM, some people have been posting covers of the show’s theme song.



The one I’ve known for years is, of course, the Husker Du version.



Then there’s the Joan Jett version.



You've probably heard both of those in the past week. 

But odds are you haven’t heard the Sammy Davis Jr disco version.



Or the Nashville Country version by Sonny Curtis (who. Incidentally, sang the original TV version).



Now that I’ve heard both, I still prefer the Husker Du/Joan Jett versions.

Yr gonna make it after all,

This is dF
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I was in Honolulu a couple of weeks ago, and of course this was running through my head the entire time I was there.



Because come on, I’m in Jack Lord’s town.

Anyway, when I looked up the Hawaii Five-O theme, I was reminded that The Ventures did a great cover version of it.



Then, when I was looking for some Don Ho songs to post over on the Facebooks, I found out that Ho had actually done his own cover version – with added lyrics.



According to legend, when the TV show became a hit, someone decided to add lyrics to the theme to make a proper song out of it so they could release it as a single and cash in on the show’s popularity. Which is kind of odd, since the theme is awesome just as an instrumental, as the Ventures version demonstrated. I assume the decision was mainly due to the fact that you need lyrics if singers are going to do cover versions. Like Don Ho.

Or Sammy Davis, Jr.



Strangely, Sammy’s version has similar but different lyrics to the Don Ho version. I’ve no idea why. It’s probably to do with individual style. Don was strictly a crooner, and his version notably slows down for the lyrics about sweet lovin’ in Hawaii. Sammy was more Vegas showmanship, so he maintained the brisk tempo, while the lyrics are – kinda sorta – focused on Steve McGarrett’s character.

Something like that.

Anyway, it makes for good trivia and novelty, but you can’t beat the original.

FUN FACT: The Sammy Davis Jr version is from the 1976 album Song And Dance Man, which also features covers of five other TV theme songs.

BONUS TRACKS

There are other covers of the Hawaii Five-O theme out there, of course.

Here’s one of many punk versions.



And here’s a ska version.



And here’s a song by Radio Birdman that’s not a cover per se, but it’s about Hawaii Five-O, and the lead break does kind of use the theme as a reference point.



There's also a great version by a band called Furious George on this compilation of TV themes (which I have a copy of somewhere), but sadly it's not on the YouTubes.

Book ‘em Danno,

This is dF
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Here in Hong Kong, Sam Hui is generally recognized as one of the founders of what’s known as Cantopop, as he was one of the first and most successful singer-songwriters of the early 70s to sing pop/rock songs in the local Cantonese dialect instead of Mandarin, as was the tradition beforehand.

One of my favorite songs of his is “Students”. I don’t understand much of the lyrics, but I love the chord progression and key changes.



Turns out it’s actually a cover version of this song, which was a big hit in South Korea in the mid-60s and still gets a lot of tribute/karaoke action to this very day.



And it turns out that that song – the title of which translates to “Washington Square” – is actually an adaptation of this instrumental recorded a year earlier by "folk-Dixie" outfit The Village Stompers.



It’s an interesting evolution. Someone in Korea basically took an American instrumental and wrote some original Korean lyrics for it, then ten years later Sam Hui took that version and wrote some original Cantonese lyrics for it.

(I’m assuming he swiped the music from the Korean version rather than the US version. My conclusion is based on the fact that the Korean version contains one minor chord change from the original, and the Sam Hui version uses the Korean chord changes.)

Isn't this interesting?

All around the world,

This is dF
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Now that I’ve posted the Kiss 45s, the next logical question is:

“How about the Ace Frehley solo song? Bet you had that one too.”

Yes I did.



As history has recorded, everyone in Kiss released a solo album at the same time in 1978. I’m not sure of the exact reasons for this – supposedly their 1976 contract with Casablanca included four solo albums, which would count as half an album each towards their five-album deal, so I guess it was about maximum exposure.

To be honest, I’ve never listened to any of them, so I can’t really tell you how they measure up to each other and to Kiss’ back catalogue. I don’t think I really made the association between this song and Kiss until a little later. (I said I liked Kiss at the time – I didn't say I’d memorized all the names of the band members.)

It’s pretty well understood that Frehley’s solo album was the most successful in terms of chart singles and sales (though that depends on whether yr asking Gene Simmons or someone other than Gene Simmons). They’ve all been certified platinum, and by some accounts have sold at least as many copies as Love Gun. In any case, Frehley was the only one to have a hit single – which, interestingly, was a cover version of a song recorded by glam-rock also-rans Hello, and written by Russ Ballard.

Which makes it the third time Ballard has been represented in this series.

Here’s the original.



Obviously Frehley didn’t take too many liberties with the formula.

Here I am in this city with a fistful of dollars,

This is dF
 
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Re: “dEFROG On 45 #77”, in which I noted that the film version of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” bore no real resemblance to the story told in the song on which it was allegedly based:

The film used a different version of the song, sung by Tanya Tucker, with the lyrics almost completely rewritten to fit the movie’s storyline.


The music is pretty much the same (albeit with a more countrified arrangement) – just the words are different.

Which got me to thinking: how often does that happen, where someone does a cover song but with totally different lyrics?

I know it happens in the case of songs translated into other languages, where the lyrics don't translate well so they just write all new ones. And certainly there are cases where artists drop certain lines or change select words (often in the name of either FCC guidelines or gender correction, though sometimes the latter can effectively change the whole meaning and point of the song).

But I’m having trouble thinking of other examples of total rewrites (apart from Weird Al parodies, which don’t count). Probably the closest example is Peggy Lee’s version of Little Willie John’s “Fever”, where she kept the first couple of verses then added her own lyrics for the rest of the song.

And I guess maybe certain Led Zeppelin songs might count, depending on who you ask.

Otherwise, I’m drawing a blank. Maybe you lot have some ideas.

Meanwhile, there’s at least one other cover version of the song – Reba McIntire had a hit single with it in the early 90s. While she kept the original lyrics intact, she did make this odd music video to go with it that basically changes the story where the brother not only knows who killed Andy, but deliberately pled guilty to protect the shooter.

Which isn’t nearly as good.

Anyway, it’s one of those videos I always liked to keep in mind whenever music censorship groups complained that rock music videos should be censored because they had too much sex and violence in them. Somehow Reba McIntire never came up in that discussion – cos she’s not rock, so it’s okay?

Do the twist,

This is dF
 
defrog: (elvis hell)
Yet another series I’ve been ignoring. But somehow the topic of Iron Butterfly came up, which is not something you’ll hear a lot of people say in 2015.

Iron Butterfly, of course, is a textbook example of the One Hit Wonder. They’re only known for one song, and it’s 17 minutes long.



Okay, most people probably know the single edit, which is as much of the song as you probably need to enjoy it. But there’s no denying its iconic status. You know you’ve made it when The Simpsons works you into a scene.


Anyway, it’s not a song that lends itself easily to cover versions, depending on whether yr attempting the album version or the single version. But several acts have tried.

There’s a disco version.



There’s the thrash-metal version.



There’s the alt.folk version.



And – my personal favorite – the bongo version.



Come with me and walk this land,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
As longtime fans know, we’ve been participating in a project where we use bootlegged isolated drum tracks from famous drummers and fool around with them.

Here’s the latest entry in that series, in which we finally give the world our interpretation of the Village People, who are awesome. We apologize for any inconvenience or excessive manliness all over yr headphones.

But boy was it fun.



=========================================

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Written by Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo, Victor Willis and Peter Whitehead
Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins

The part of Goo Deäthmüffin was played by John Bonham for demonstration purposes only. No disrespect or copyright infringement is intended (and would be pointless anyway because it's not like anyone buys our stuff)

©2015 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

=========================================

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Call me Mister Eagle,

This is dF
 
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Leave it to Primus to do an album covering the entire soundtrack to Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Some may be surprised to see Primus is still active. They were on hiatus for over a decade before their 2011 “comeback” album Green Naugahyde, which I confess I missed. I loved Primus in their heyday, but at the time I was skeptical of any band getting back together and trying to live up to their own legacy. Also, Antipop was admittedly not that good a note to go on hiatus. 

However, when I saw their new album in a music store in Stockholm, I was intrigued for two reasons: (1) the Willy Wonka film was as seminal to me as it has been for Les Claypool, and (2) Primus generally do very interesting cover versions of songs.

And by “interesting” I mean “twisted and bizarre”.

Suffice to say the album exceeds my expectations. Claypool bends the songs completely out of shape, but not to the point of making them unrecognizable. And the material suits both his musical style and his cartoonish drawl.

I think this track gives you a good idea of what to expect.



Primus has always been an acquired taste that was arguably most accessible with Tales From The Punchbowl, so I doubt this will win over the haters. But this is their best album since the underrated The Brown Album.

Or not. Anyway, it’s a late contender for Album Of The Year for me.

You can even eat the dishes,

This is dF
 
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Q: What do Judy Garland, Herman’s Hermits and cowboys have in common?

A: This song, both of which were performed in movies with cowboys.





I can’t decide which is more awesome: watching Judy play sleepy guitar, or watching Herman’s Hermits play in the back of a pick-up truck.

Some fellers,

This is dF

 
defrog: (45 frog)
If you’ve followed the “dEFROG On 45” series from the beginning, you know there are a lot of one-hit wonders in my collection. There’s also a lot of disco.

Here’s one of both.



This one comes with an amusing anecdote: When this came out, I was reasonably convinced that Amii Stewart was Rod Stewart’s sister.

Why? Because they had the same last name. Obviously.

It was only later I saw a picture of her, and realized I might have gotten that one wrong.

Told you it was amusing.

FUN FACT: This is actually a cover of an Eddie Floyd song.



It’s hard to compare the two. They’re different enough versions (classic Stax/Volt sound vs Gary-Glitter inspired disco) that they kind of stand on their own.

The way you love me is frightening,

This is dF
 
defrog: (Default)
And yes, it’s another perfect cover song from Banäna Deäthmüffins as we unintentionally ruin one of our favorite songs by Berlin.

There’s probably a good reason why we keep getting sidetracked doing covers instead of doing our own stuff. And it’s probably along the lines of “Cos it’s fun, that’s why.” Which is as good a reason as any. It’s also good practice to learn how to play other people’s songs, I find.

FUN FACT: We originally tried this as a heavy psych-funk number, but it kept segueing into Judas Priest’s “Breakin’ The Law” by the end, and then at some point I started wondering how awesome it would be to hear Fred Schneider sing this song, so then it ended up turning into a retro TV-spy theme, which actually made sense considering the original video for the song and …

Well. Here it is.



=====================================

Written by John Buckner Crawford
Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

================================================

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Swimming through apologies,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Does the world really need another Ramones cover song?

Probably not. But it’s getting one anyway. Because why not?



================================================

Written by Dee Dee Ramone
Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

================================================

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Involved again,

This is dF
 
defrog: (Default)
And so we decided to cover the Daniel Boone TV show theme song for no real reason. Which is pretty much the same reason we do any song, so why not?

Note the creative license.






DISCLAIMER: This song is not historically accurate. But neither was the TV show, so why not?

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With an eye like an eagle,

This is dF


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Remember those songs we did where we pretended John Bonham was our drummer?

Well, the group that spawned that project has spawned another one. Which somehow led to the following question:

Suppose Keith Moon had been in ABBA instead of The Who?

It would probably sound nothing like this. But it’s all in good fun, so who cares?



================================================

Written by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Stig Anderson
Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

================================================

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I wish I understood,

This is dF
 
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Happy 2014 from yr old favorite band, Banäna Deäthmüffins!

You thought we were retired. Sorry, no, just busy – so busy in fact that we’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of months.

Remember that last song we did? The one that was a dry run for a Facebook-based music project where everyone takes a set of drum tracks, does something with them, and submits them to the group? And remember we said the official submission would be available soon?

Well, it’s available now.

It’s a cover of a Warren Zevon song.

And we’d like to apologize to Zevon fans who might take umbrage with our version.

But damn, Jim, did we have a fun time making it.



================================================

Written by Warren Zevon/Waddy Wachtel/Leroy P. Marinell
Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins (and again, we're very, very sorry)
C. 1991 Zevon Music/BMI

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

================================================

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Load up the Winnebago,

This is dF

 
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The reaction to our radical re-working of Samantha Fox’s “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” has been pretty much what we expected – a whole lotta enthusiastic head-scratching, followed by the question, “So what about that other version you were talking about? Is that better?”

By which they mean the LOUD version.

As for whether it’s better or not, we’ll let you decide. Because by popular demand, we’re releasing it … NOW.




And of course here is the first version, for comparison purposes.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Written by M.Shreeve/J.Astrop/PQ Harris

Ruined by Banäna Deäthmüffins

Recording ©2013 Terribly Frog Music. Derechos Reservados!

Deepest apologies to Samantha Fox

================================================

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Contrast and compare,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
I’ve always found it ironic that Tom Waits gets a lot of accolades as a songwriter, yet has never had a mainstream hit single. His albums generally do well, and his singles do pretty good on specialty-format charts like “Adult Alternative”. But he’s never cracked the Billboard 200.

Which just goes to show that “great songs” and “hit songs” aren’t always the same thing.

Then again, sometimes it’s more about the presentation than the song itself. As a performer, Waits has never been a commercial proposition, and he gets more respect from the hipster alt.crowd than from the mainstream. Which is why yr more likely to hear a Waits song on mainstream radio if someone else performs it.

Especially if that someone is Rod Stewart doing “Downtown Train”.

Actually, Waits does get covered a lot, but usually by artists who also have smaller “alternative” followings, rather than big-name stars. Sure, Springsteen has covered “Jersey Girl” onstage, and the Eagles did “Ol’ 55”, but none of them have been as successful as Stewart’s take on “Downtown Train”.

And the thing is, I never really liked Stewart’s version. The brilliance of the song shines through, but it’s too obviously Adult Contemporary for my taste. Moreover, he wasn’t even the first singer to release a cover version as a single. 

That would be Patty Smyth.



It didn’t do better than Stewart’s chartwise, but I like her version a lot more. It’s obviously a more amped up arrangement, but I think it does preserve some of the romance of the original, even if it relies on 80s synths to do it. And of course Smyth was a really good singer in her own right.

Still, there’s nothing quite like the original.



PRODUCTION NOTE: I should mention that Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded her own version of “Downtown Train” the same year Smyth did. But that wasn’t released as a single.

Also, while we’re at it, Bob Seger recorded a version the same year as Stewart, but decided not to release it at the time because Stewart’s version did so well. 

Shining like a new dime,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
One interesting aspect about cover songs recorded for commercial purposes is the timing. Once the original comes out, how long should one wait before recording one’s own version? 

In most cases, it’s a moot point, since many artists tend to cover songs they loved when they were growing up, so there’s at least a ten-year gap between versions.

It also depends on how well-known the original was. You could get away with, say, covering the 1964 Kinks hit “You Really Got Me” in the late 70s. You probably couldn’t do it the same year without being accused of cashing in on someone else’s success. On the other hand, if the song is by someone obscure enough – or someone who works in a distinctly different genre than you – yr odds are better.

For example, take the song “Demolition Man”, which started out as a hit single for Grace Jones in 1981.



It was actually written by Sting of The Police, but that band hadn’t yet recorded it at the time. But they did record it later that year for their album Ghost In The Machine.



Then two years later it appeared on the Somewhere In Afrika album by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, and became a chart hit.



I might be making more out of this than is warranted, but it interests me that the song saw three incarnations in two years, two of them singles, albeit in different radio formats. I can’t think of too many examples where that’s happened.

Personally I prefer the Manfred Mann version. The arrangement is appropriately terse and dangerous, as though Steve Waller really could take you all out if he wanted to, and Shona Laing would watch and laugh while he did it. And you can move yr hips to it.

That said, it was good material for Grace Jones, too. In fact, the Police version is my least favorite of the three. Go figure.

BONUS MATERIAL: It's worth mentioning that Sting recorded a new version of the song for the 1993 film Demolition Man. But the less said about it, the better.

The sort of thing they ban,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
This is a series about artists doing cover songs that may or may not be better than the originals to the point of being definitive. 

This episode concerns Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N Roll”.

So you may be thinking I’ll be posting about some of the awful cover versions that have emerged in recent years by the likes of (say) Britney Spears or Hannah Montana or that horrible horrible dance version

You’d be wrong.

Because, as it turns out, Joan Jett’s version is the cover version.

THIS is the original version, from a band called The Arrows, who were a TV rock band in the UK in the late 70s.



FUN FACT: 24 hours ago, I had no idea this even existed. I knew Jett didn’t write the song, but I thought it was a song that maybe some people she knew wrote and gave to her to use or something.

My word. The things you learn on Facebook.

Meanwhile, here’s Jett’s version for reference/entertainment purposes.



Put another dime in the jukebox,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
When most people think of actors doing spoken-word interpretations of hit songs, they usually think of William Shatner. 

They don’t always think of Telly Savalas.

Which is too bad, because his version of ubiquitous Bread ballad “If” actually bothered the charts in 1975.

In Europe. But hey, a chart is a chart.

And you should see the video for it.



Here’s another, slightly less creepy version (from Top Of The Pops).



Notice how Telly smokes a lot. You could do that in music videos in the 70s.

Two places at once,

This is dF


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