It goes without saying (so why am I saying it then?) that a song can be covered many ways. The most obvious way is to be faithful to the original and to do a virtual like-for-like copy. If you’re an artist with a big enough following, the cover can end up being more successful than the original. There are many examples of this but the one that springs immediately to mind is Robbie Williams’s cover of World Party’s “She’s The One”. At the other end of the spectrum, you could do what the Dickies did to the Moody Blues classic “Nights In White Satin”, speed it up and give it a bit of attitude. Alternatively, you can strip the song back to its basics and slow it down a bit like Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’ version of “Mad World”. Then again, you can take a classic and make it sound like one of your own, just like the Pet Shop Boys did with “Always On My Mind” – recently voted the top cover version of all time in a BBC Music vote. You can do it acapella style like The Flying Picket’s “Only You” or do a parody like Big Daddy and “Dancing In The Dark”.
There are, however, some songs that shouldn’t be touched with barge pole as it’s simply wrong. I don’t care if it’s raising money for a national children’s charity or its contributors are some of the biggest names in the field. God only knows who thought that was a good idea! I guess some of you feel the same way about certain Squeeze songs, “[[Some Fantastic Place]]” instantly comes to mind.
For me, the best thing any cover can do is breathe new life into the original, keeping it alive for a new generation to discover, appreciate and then make their own cover to continue the cycle.
In my search for Squeeze covers on YouTube, I’ve come across examples of all of the above and will share them with you over the coming weeks. This week’s cover is one of my favourites. Ernie Halter’s version of “[[Black Coffee in Bed]]” is simply stunning. I hope you think so, too.
Until the next time, toodle pip!