Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday's Radio Show: On the Covers of the Rolling Stones

Here's the playlist from Wednesday's radio show. as always, underlined or highlighted links can be played and downloaded.

Jumpin' Jack Flash Aretha Franklin (1986)
Miss Amanda Jones The March Violets (1986)
Dandelion Miranda Lee Richards (2001)
Wild Horses Alicia Keys with Adam Levine (2005)
As Tears Go By Marianne Faithfull (1987)
Happy Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (2005)
Miss You Etta James (2000)
Satisfaction Otis Redding (1966)
Honky Tonk Women Ike & Tina Turner (1971)
Street Fighting Man The Ramones (1985)
19th Nervous Breakdown Jason and The Scorchers (1986)
Start Me Up Toots & the Maytals (2002)
Beast Of Burden Buckwheat Zydeco (1990)
Gimme Shelter Angelique Kidjo (2007)
Tumbling Dice Linda Ronstadt (1977)
You Can't Always Get What You Want Neville Brothers (1994)

Almost made it: "Ruby Tuesday" Melanie,; "Angie" Tori Amos; "As Tears Go By", Marianne Faithfull; Paint It Black, U2 or Mighty Lemon Drops, "I'm Free," The Soup Dragons;
'Sympathy for the Devil/Symphony for the Devil,"Blood, Sweat & Tears

No way: Bette Midler, "Beast of Burden," David Bowie "Let's Spend The Night Together"

The genesis of this show derived from a painful admission that I made during this February post: The reason I am not a huge Stones fan has entirely to do with Mick's voice. The fact is, I am huge admirer of what the Stones have written. But due to a personal quirk or whatever, Jagger's voice just cuts through me like nails on a blackboard. The Alicia Keys and Southside Johnny covers really brought that home to me. They have become personal favorites in my collection.

In order to prove that point to myself, I decided to create this show to spotlight some of my favorite covers and highlight the diversity of artists who have made Stones' music part of their repertoire.

What struck me is how comfortable R&B artists are with the Stones. Which is no surprise, considering that the Stones are basically a band that made black music their own. Still, I get a certain sense of satisfaction (no pun intended) when I hear artists like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Etta James rip into Stones songs with such gusto.

Here are a few notes:
  • Some of you have heard this story before, but it bears repeating. Keith Richards always envisioned the key riff in "Satisfaction" being played by horns, instead of guitar. Therefore, he has always applauded Redding's version of the song – not only because Otis really sings the heck out of it, but he replaces the fuzz-box guitars with the great Muscle Shoals horn section.
  • Marianne Faithfull actually recorded "As Tears Go By" as a teenager, before the Stones went into the recording studio with it. About 20 years later, she included a new version on her 1987 collaboration with Hal Willner, Strange Weather. One of the reasons it sounds so different is that the drug-ravaged vocalist recorded it a full octave lower than her original version.
  • Some of the songs I included on today's show were completely new to me until this week. With the help of this excellent Rolling Stones cover songs web site, I was able to look up who recorded versions of my favorite Stones songs, then listen to snippets on iTunes to see if they were worth obtaining and including in the show. One of the most pleasant discoveries was Toots & the Maytals version of 1981's "Start Me Up," which really cooks. It's part of a 2002 album Paint It Black: A Reggae Tribute to the Rolling Stones. Not everything sounds like it works on this album, but I really like this track. And, of course, no one needs reminding that Mick and Keith really dig Reggae. So it's an appropriate inclusion.
  • I didn't include a number of songs that are personal favorites, mainly because either I much prefer the original versions or didn't find a cover worth including. "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Paint It Black" were two examples. Blood Sweat & Tears certainly did original and interesting things with the former song, but it was still not something that merited more than seven minutes of precious radio time. Hey, I only have about 60-75 minutes to play music each week…

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