Tag Archive: served three ways

  1. Three Covers of INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”

    1 Comment

    “Never Tear Us Apart” was released by Australia’s INXS late in the summer of 1988. It was a huge pop hit charting at #7 in the United States. It was often thought of as the anthem for INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, and was even selected by his family and friends to be played as his coffin was carried out of Saint Andrews following his untimely death in 1997. The sensual jam has been covered a ridiculous number of times including by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Bono. I’ve included three indie takes on the tune here.

    The version by St. Vincent recorded with Beck, Os Mutantes, and Liars for Beck’s Record Club is heart-achingly beautiful. The talented musicians supporting Clark create a twinkling and orchestral backdrop to accompany her powerful and lovely vocals. The Great Book of John turn the track into a floor-board stomping blues rocker complete with a driving rhythm section led by a grungy bassline and softly crooned vocals. Finally, the version recorded by The Twilight Sad is really, really, startlingly Scottish. I’d pair it with haggis, Sean Connery, and 18 holes of golf. It’s that Scottish.

    St. Vincent (feat. Beck, Liars, & Os Mutantes) – Never Tear Us Apart (INXS Cover)
    The Great Book of John – Never Tear Us Apart (INXS Cover)
    The Twilight Sad – Never Tear Us Apart (INXS Cover)

    Which one takes the prize for you?

  2. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me”


    It’s not for nothing that Sam Cooke became known as the King of Soul. He’s widely considered one of the chief pioneers of soul music. Indeed, before his tragic death in 1964 at the age of only 33 years old, he had penned 29 separate Top 40 hits and founded a successful record label building off of his success as a songwriter and performer. Released as a single in 1962, “Bring It On Home To Me” has been described as both “the definitive soul song” and the “founding of soul music” by music historians. It’s no exaggeration to suggest it’s been covered hundreds of times by artists that include everyone from Paul McCartney, John Lennon, R. Kelly, Low Rawls (who provided backing vocals on the original), Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Van Morrison, Otis Redding, Bon Jovi, The Animals, Colin Meloy, She & Him, and Britt Daniel. I’ve included three of the most contemporary takes of the tracks (those by Colin Meloy, Britt Daniel, and She & Him) for you here.

    Colin Meloy of The Decemberists – Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke Cover)
    Britt Daniel of Spoon – Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke Cover)
    She & Him – Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke Cover)

    Know of any other good ones? Which one suits you? My all time favorite version is a live version recorded by Cooke himself at the Harlem Square Club in 1963 (only a year before his death).

  3. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”


    It’s hard to believe that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ debut album was released nearly 9 years ago (in April 2003). Although it’s a remarkably solid debut from start to finish, “Maps” is a notable standout demonstrating a strong (and relatively surprising) emotional foundation compared to the tracks which make up much of the rest of the album. Since it’s initial release, Karen O has confessed that the track was written about her then beau (Liars’ Angus Andrew). In fact, in the songs official music video, O appears distraught and even sheds a few tears. She later stated in interview that the tears were real and were shed because she became worked up when Angus showed up three hours late to the video shoot for the song (which, again, was written about him). It’s been covered by many of the YYYs’ contemporaries including The White Stripes (although I’ve never heard a decent recording of this one), The Arcade Fire, Rogue Wave, and as part of a medley by Ted Leo.

    Arcade Fire – Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)
    Rogue Wave – Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)
    Ted Leo – Since You Been Gone / Maps (Kelly Clarkson / Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)

    By now you know the drill: so, which one is your favorite?

  4. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”


    The memorable three note guitar riff powering the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was intended as a throwaway placeholder to be replaced with a blaring horn section. The band ultimately decided to stick with the guitar, and, according to Mick Jagger, it was that track that “changed [The Rolling Stones] from just another band into a huge, monster band.” The track ended up being the band’s first-ever number one hit in the United States. Initially the song was only played on pirate radio stations in England because the lyrics were considered too sexually suggestive but it later became the band’s fourth number one hit in the UK as well. It’s been covered numerous times by artists including Devo, Britney Spears (you don’t want to hear it – trust me), and Aretha Franklin (you do want to hear this one). You’ll also find a great, 12-minute version on The Great Lost Album by The Vagrants. Each of these versions offer an original take on the track.

    Cat Power – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
    Otis Redding – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
    P.J. Harvey & Bjork – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

    I want to hear which one is your favorite, so tell me what you think in the comments.


  5. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Neil Young’s “On The Beach”


    Neil Young’s On The Beach was originally released in 1974 as the follow up to the commercially and critically successful Harvest. It was raw and loose, and from the lyrics and sparse production, it’s clear that Young was in an emotionally dark place at the time. For a modern equivalent, you could compare it’s emotional bleakness to Kanye West’s 808 & Heartbreaks, except that where 808s was overproduced with autotune, On The Beach was underproduced (also: On The Beach is just a better record). We find Young here grappling with frustration, despair and, on the title track, with the pitfalls of fame. As an interesting aside: the album went out of print in vinyl format in 1980 and Young declined to release it on CD until 2003 when it was released as an HDCD. As a result it developed a cult following. Anyways, here are my three favorite covers of the title track. Reo offers the most original take on the track, but Radiohead and Golden Smog pretty much nail it.

    Radiohead – On The Beach (Neil Young Cover)
    Golden Smog – On The Beach (Neil Young Cover)
    Emily Reo – On The Beach (Neil Young Cover)

    So what do you like about these covers?  What don’t you like about ’em?

  6. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of The Clash’s “The Guns of Brixton”


    The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton” is probably one of the greatest rock songs ever written. Anyways, it is certainly one of the best rock tracks ever fused with another genre (considering it is maybe more reggae that rock). I love the way it just oozes defiance, rebellion and urban menace. The three covers I collected here are all pretty unique and really shine a light on different aspects of the source material. It’s also just really interesting to see what the covering bands took from the original and what they discarded. Arcade Fire’s live version pretty much strips the reggae from the tune. In it’s place they double down on that menacing urban ambiance featuring Win Butler shouting the lyrics through a megaphone in the middle of a crowded audience. Calexico meanwhile reinvent the groove as a dusty, horn laced South American folk tune (including Spanish-language harmonies). Nouvelle Vague turn in a slithering bossa nova influenced interpretation of the tune.

    Arcade Fire – The Guns of Brixton (The Clash Cover)
    Calexico – The Guns of Brixton (The Clash Cover)
    Nouvelle Vague – The Guns of Brixton (The Clash Cover)

    You know the drill, let me know which of these covers is your favorite in the comments section.

  7. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Jackson Browne’s “These Days”


    “These Days” is a remarkable song.  Jackson Browne originally wrote the song when he was only 16 years old and submitted a demo of the track to various artists and publishing companies. The first recording of it occurred a few years later featuring vocals by Nico and finger-picked electric guitar provided by Browne himself.  Later, when he became a recording artist of his own notoriety, Browne recorded a new version of the track with his own vocals and production assistance from Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers (who subsequently recorded his own version of the song).  It’s an often covered track to be sure, and here we collect three “indie” covers of the tune performed by Mates of State, Memoryhouse and St. Vincent (I’ve found others by Elliott Smith and Clem Snide). I think it speaks to the beauty and elegance of the original that each of these artists’ stay relatively true to the flesh and blood of the original.

    Mates of State – These Days (Jackson Browne Cover)
    Memoryhouse – These Days (Jackson Browne Cover)
    St. Vincent – These Days (Jackson Browne Cover)

    So of these three, who do you think does it the best?

  8. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen


    I love hearing different interpretations of the same track. In my mind, the choice draws a common thread between each of the artists, and yet their unique stylistic approaches to the source material simultaneously distinguishes them from one another. For example, here we have three very different musicians – Beck, Nina Simone and Francoise Hardy – all paying tribute to the opening cut from The Songs of Leonard Cohen – a song once known as the most frequently covered Leonard Cohen song (although I suspect the honor now falls to “Hallelujah”). Each artist takes a different approach to the source material, and I’d argue that you could tell a lot about each of these artists based solely on how they tackle the tune. Aside from the French vocals, Hardy’s take is the most true to the original. Simone’s is the most soulful/funky. Meanwhile, the most irreverent version of the song is by Beck (who is joined my MGMT & Devendra Banhart).

    Nina Simone – Suzanne (Leonard Cohen Cover)
    Francoise Hardy – Suzanne (Leonard Cohen Cover)
    Beck – Suzanne (Leonard Cohen Cover)

    So which is your favorite?  Nina, Francoise or Mr. Hansen?

  9. Served Three Ways: Three Covers of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”


    Presuming you heart isn’t a shriveled, cold, desolate organ feeding on darkness, you probably love Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” No need, to get all “How did you know!?!” on me. It’s because I presume you are a normal human being – and that song is like crack for the mushy, romantic parts of the human brain. This is the same part of your brain that loves puppies, red wine and makes you get all teary-eyed at the cheesy parts of movies. And if you needed proof that your favorite musicians are as normal as the rest of us, you need look no further than the number of covers of the song that have proliferated across the Internets in the past few months. I found three worth mentioning, and I’m sharing them below. What I’d like to hear from you is this: of the three, which is your favorite? Don’t worry, this isn’t a trick. All three are awesome and I’ll have your back no matter which one you choose.

    James Vincent McMorrow – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak Cover)
    Washed Out – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak Cover)
    Widowspeak – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak Cover)

    P.S. “Served Three Ways” will probably be an ongoing series around here. I hope you like it.