Johnny Aloha’s cover of Paradise City appeared on the 2010 album Lavapalooza. Johnny Aloha is a character created and portrayed by Los Angeles based actor, comedian and singer Mark Jonathan Davis (aka Richard Cheese).
Paradise City was the fifth single from Gun N’ Roses 1987 album Appetite for Destruction. The song was conceived in the back of a rental van after the band were returning from a gig in San Fransisco, with the beginning of the song being improvised by guitarist Slash and the rest of the group joining in. Ex Guns member Tracii Lords suggests that the song’s structure is based on a sped up version of the Black Sabbath track Zero the Hero from their 1983 album Born Again, while Hanoi Rocks guitarist Andy McCoy says Paradise City borrows heavily from several of his band’s songs, especially Lost In The City.
Big Youth’s cover of Hit The Road Jack originally appeared on his 1976 album, Hit The Road. Written by Percy Mayfield, Hit The Road Jack was first recorded by Ray Charles who took it to number one in 1961. What the World Needs Now Is Love was written in 1965 by Burt Bacharach with lyrics by Hal David and first recorded by Jackie DeShannon.
Chappo’s cover of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) appeared on their free 2013 EP Nothin’ To Sell You. Written by Mickey Newbury – who had intended the lyrics to be a warning about the dangers of using LSD – the song was first recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1967, and then covered by country rock group First Edition (later renamed Kenny Rogers and First Edition) who had a hit with it in 1968. The above video features images from the 1973 René Laloux directed animated movie, La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet).
Taggy Matcher (aka Bruno Hovat – a French producer, remixer & composer) paired with singer Birdy Nixon for this 2013 double A-side covering The Black Keys’ tracks Tighten Up and Lonely Boy, both of which first appeared on the 2011 album El Camino.
Celebrating 1000 views of the blog, here are seven of my favourite videos that have featured so far. It’s the nature of the beast that most of the cover versions that appear on this blog were obscure singles, b-sides or album tracks that weren’t made with accompanying videos. That said, here are some exceptional exceptions…
This cover version really has no business working at all, let alone being as entertaining as it is. But berets off to French seven piece Pink Turtle, somehow they pull it off and even throw a bit of Nat ‘Cannonball’ Adderley’s Work Song into the mix as well.
Inspired by the song Slippin’ into Darkness by War, Get Up, Stand Up originally appeared on The Wailers’ album Burnin‘ in 1973. Written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, each of the Wailers – Marley, Tosh and Bunny Wailer – have all recorded their own solo versions of the song.
Songhoy Blues’ cover of Should I Stay or should I Go is taken from their 2015 EP Re-Covered. Songhoy Blues are a desert blues group from Timbuktu in Mali. The band was formed in Bamako after being forced to leave their homes during the Mali war and the imposition of Sharia law. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) took control of the north of Mali, who in turn were pushed out by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group which banned cigarettes, alcohol and music. The Clash’s originsl version of Should or Stay or Should I Go first appeared on their 1981 album Combat Rock. Ten years later it became the band’s only number one UK single when it was re-released following its use in the Levis jeans commercial Pool Hall Clash.
Iranian actor, singer and human rights activist Zia Atabay had his first hit as a pop singer in Iran at the age of 18 and went on to record several hit albums. He also worked as an A&R manager for CBS Records in Iran, but lost his job in 1979 when Islamic revolutionaries took over the offices. He fled Iran in 1980, living in Europe before moving to Los Angeles in 1986. I’m a Believer was written by Neil Diamond and scored a number one hit for The Monkees in 1966.
In the late fifties Timex sponsored a series of variety show specials starring Frank Sinatra, broadcast on the ABC television network. The last in the series, taped on 12th May 1960 in Miami, featured Elvis Presley who had just returned to the U.S after his National Service in Germany.
Sinatra wasn’t a fan of rock and roll. He had this to say about it a few years before this show was aired:
“My only deep sorrow is the unrelenting insistence of recording and motion picture companies upon purveying the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear—Naturally I refer to the bulk of rock’ n’ roll. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phony and false.
It is sung, played, and written for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly, lewd—in plain fact, dirty—lyrics, and as I said before, it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth […] this rancid-smelling aphrodisiac I deplore. But, in spite of it, the contribution of American music to the world could be said to have one of the healthiest effects of all our contributions.”
When asked to comment, Elvis had this to say:
“I admire the man. He has a right to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn’t have said it. He’s mistaken about this. This is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago. I consider it the greatest in music.”
John Cale brings the drama to his 1975 cover of Heartbreak Hotel which appeared on his fifth solo album Slow Dazzle, with Roxy Music’s Brian Eno on synthesisers and Phil Manzanera on guitar.
Steel guitar player and songwriter Tommy Durden first had the idea for Heartbreak Hotel in 1955 after reading a news report about Alvin Krolik, a painter and criminal whose marriage had failed and who wrote an unpublished autobiography that included the line ‘This is the story of a person who walked a lonely street.’ Krolik’s story was published in news media, and received further publicity after he was shot and killed in an attempted robbery in Texas. The El Paso Times reported Krolik’s death under the headline ‘Story Of Person Who Walked Lonely Street’. Durden took the unfinished song to his friend, high school teacher Mae Boren Axton who told Durden “Everybody in the world has someone who cares. Let’s put a Heartbreak Hotel at the end of this lonely street” and the song was finished within the space of an hour. Later that same year Mae secured a meeting with Elvis and him played a demo of the track. Elvis loved the song, memorised it, and recorded it two months later at his first recording session for RCA. George Harrison, Keith Richards and Robert Plant all later credited Elvis’s version of Heartbreak Hotel as the song that made them want to play rock and roll.
Hot on the heels of their awesome 11 minute cover of For Your Love, German electro-disco troupe Chilly (the creation of producer and composer Bernt Möhrle) put Cream’s 1967 hit Sunshine of Your Love through the sequencer. The cover appeared on their second album Welcome to L.A (1979) which also included a version of The Easybeats’ Friday on My Mind, an interpretation which straddles both new wave and Euro disco, kind of like Donna Summer meets Devo. Also – Chilly singer Brad Howell was one of the real voices behind lip-sync charlatans Milli Vanilli.
I honestly can’t call it between these two German electro-disco covers of For Your Love, both released in 1978. I can find nothing at all on Lola Dee other than I’m pretty sure it’s not the famous American Lola Dee, but Chilly had a few albums; more from them in the next post. For Your Love was written by Graham Gouldman (later of 10CC) and first recorded by The Yardbirds in 1965. Apparently Eric Clapton hated it and it was one of the reasons he decided to quit the band.