Bad Brains – Day Tripper/She’s a Rainbow (1987)

Day 44 – July 14, 2019

Bad Brains are a punk/metal/reggae band from Washington D.C. In 1987 they recorded a concert in Amsterdam with a reggae mashup/medley of The Beatles “Day Tripper”, a number one single released in 1965 and The Rolling Stones “She’s A Rainbow” released as a single in 1967 and also from the Stones much maligned (but actually pretty good) album “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” Bad Brains lead singer H.R. (Human Rights) doesn’t really use the original song melodies so much as hint at them, letting the bass hold down the connection to the source material. H.R. was born in Liverpool, England, home of The Beatles, so maybe there is something in the air…

Galaxie 500 – Cheese and Onions (1991)

Day 43 – July 13, 2019

Neil Innes is a Monty Python collaborator (there is a film about him called “The Seventh Python”) and he was the songwriter behind The Beatles parody band, The Rutles. Cheese and Onions is a send up of Sgt Peppers/Magical Mystery Tour era Beatles which is such a good song that (if you weren’t listening to the lyrics) you might think it is a Lennon/McCartney song you’d never heard before. Galaxie 500 covers the song with a clever intro and outro of an orchestral crescendo that sounds lifted from The Beatles “Day in the Life” but I’m sure they made their own racket in the studio… “Do I have to spell it out? C-H-E-E-S-E-A-N-D-O-N-I-O-N-S Oh, no.”

Django Django – Porpoise Song (2014)

Day 42 – July 12, 2019

1968: the year of Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, and… The Monkees? Yeah, the Monkees got in on the psychedelic thing, with their own surrealistic film called “Head”, cowritten by Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson) and with a soundtrack that included the song “Porpoise Song” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It’s a great song and many bands have covered it over the years. Django Django are a band from London, England founded in 2009. Their take on “Porpoise Song” is a nice listen – they double the run time of the original by adding some light electronic drums in the first half before switching to a new beat in the second half, modernizing the song. The harmonies are perfect on the “goodbye, goodbye, goodbye” portion of the song, which is really key to the tune even from the original Carole King demo – it’s out there if you’re interested. “A face, a voice, an overdub has no choice and it cannot rejoice.”

Spiritualized – Anyway That You Want Me (1990)

Day 41 – July 11, 2019

“Anyway That You Want Me” by Spiritualized is a cover of the 1966 hit single by The Troggs. It is the very first song release by Spiritualized, preceeding their first LP by almost 2 years. The band had just finished recording the final Spacemen 3 album “Recurring” late the previous year (in fact, a Spacemen 3 sticker appeared on the single) and this cover song is very much in the same vein – spacey, psychdelic and soothing. “If it’s love that you want, baby, you got it.”

Cat Power – What the World Needs Now (2018)

Day 40 – July 10, 2019

“What the World Needs Now” was recorded by Cat Power AKA Chan Marshall. Chan captured the essence of what has kept this 1965 Burt Bacharach song in popular culture for so many years. She’s added a bounce to the piano and some whistling in the background and her voice takes the listener’s brain on a singalong of the song that everyone knows oh so well. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some but for everyone.”

Sharon Van Etten – The End of the World (2017)

Day 39 – July 9, 2019

“The End of the World” was written by composer Arthur Kent and lyricist Sylvia Dee who worked together on a number of popular songs in the 1960s. The song was a hit for singer Skeeter Davis but many other bands and artists have covered the song as well. Sharon Van Etten recorded her version for the soundtrack of the tv show based on the 1962 novel “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick. Van Etten’s vocals add a nicely sardonic touch to her version which, given the subject matter of the song, is very appropriate for a 21st century . In 2019 Van Etten released her fifth studio album “Remind Me Tomorrow”, which was met with critical acclaim (as were her first four.) Sharon also appeared in David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks, performing on stage one of her original songs in the Bang Bang Bar. “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world. ‘Cause you don’t love me any more.”

Woods – Military Madness (2009)

Day 38 – July 8, 2019

Woods covered Graham Nash’s “Military Madness” on their 4th studio album, 2009’s “Songs of Shame.” Graham Nash wrote the autobiographical song for his first solo album, 1971’s “Songs for Beginners.” It is an account of his experience being born at the end of World War 2. Woods recorded a faithful version of the song, although singer Jeremy Earl’s unique voice compares more to Nash’s former bandmate Neil Young. Woods have released 10 albums as of 2019 and also run their own music label called Woodist. “I hope that The Man discovers, what’s driving the people wild.”

Rasputina – All Tomorrow’s Parties (2001)

Day 37 – July 7, 2019

Rasputina is a cello-driven band founded by Melora Creager. They write original music with a gothic bent and, in 2001 they released a covers EP which they they released again as volume 2 in 2003 with a few more songs on it. The song “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is a cover of song by The Velvet Underground & Nico, written by Lou Reed and sung by Nico. It was supposedly Andy Warhol’s favourite song by The Velvet Underground and I think he’d like this version, too. The cello is the perfect song to capture the majesty (despite the morose subject matter) of this song. “And where will she go, and what shall she do When midnight comes around? She’ll turn once more to Sunday’s clown and cry behind the door.”

Charles Bradley – Heart of Gold (2011)

Day 36 – July 6, 2019

Originally from Charles Bradley’s 2011 debut album “No Time For Dreaming” and rereleased on the posthumous “Black Velvet”, this is the soul shakedown of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” that you didn’t know you needed. The song is taken from Young’s only #1 album on the charts and introduces a sound that Neil Young spent the next half a decade trying to avoid before reembracing it later in his career on albums like 1978’s “Comes A Time” and 1992’s “Harvest Moon.” In Neil’s words: put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.” As for Bradley; he is a former janitor and James Brown impersonator. He released his debut solo album at age 61 and died a short 6 years and 4 studio albums later. RIP Charles, “the screaming eagle of soul.”

Yo La Tengo – 4th Time Around (2007)

Day 35 – July 5, 2019

“Fourth Time Around” was Bob Dylan’s tongue in cheek reply to Lennon/McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” – it has similarities in both vocal delivery, song structure and subject matter. There has been some debate over the years as to whether this was a pointed or a playful jab at Lennon. I believe it’s intended to be playful, the answer to the question being in the title: the “Fourth” in “Fourth Time Around” says to me that Dylan believes this song has been stolen back and fourth a few times between the two songwriters. Yo La Tengo’s version is taken from the soundtrack to “I’m Not There”, an unusual film based on the life of Bob Dylan. The soundtrack consists of more than a few dozen covers of Dylan songs by contemporary artists. Georgia Hubley delivers the vocals for Yo La Tengo’s cover in a pleasant, laid back way that Yo La Tengo is known for. The band adds some organ to the song in a likely homage to the organ from Dylan’s breakthrough electric hit, “Like a Rolling Stone.” It’s a great listen and one of the highlights of the soundtrack. “And I, I never took much, I never asked for your crutch, and I don’t ask for mine.”