We Did It Our Way

The first of what promises to be a semi-regularly recurring feature of this series: Original tracks and cover versions, with each performance standing on its own. #covers

For those of you who have taken college Writing 122, this program may sound a little more than familiar. Today, we are going to use the comparison and contrast method to discern similarities between different types of what appears to be the same media.

Aretha Franklin, 1967. Fred A. Sabine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.

Covers, as they have been traditionally called, have been around since the dawn of music performances. Often called “remakes”, this is where one artist records a number often associated with another. Sometimes it is a well-known track; other times, it resurrects a long lost gem.

(l-r) David Ball and Marc Almond of Soft Cell, 1982. Courtesy of Some Bizarre/Mute Records.

Now, I know there are those of you out there may be rolling your eyes, and I can’t say I blame you. Often, covers can be bland and sometimes just downright insulting pale imitations of the originals. I know of no one anywhere who believes Pat Boone’s version of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” or Madonna’s cover of Don McLean’s “American Pie” are superior to the originals.

Gloria Gaynor, whose cover of the Jackson 5’s”Never Can Say Goodbye” was one of the first songs included in a side-long megamix, in the 1970s.

The strange fact of the matter is, sometimes the cover is so radically reworked that it is hard to believe it was never an original song: Ike and Tina Turner’s re-imagining of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” or Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheel’s transformation of Shorty Long’s “Devil With A Blue Dress On” are cover song gold standards.

Anita, June and Ruth Pointer on the cover of their 1979 album, Energy. Kosh – design, art direction; James M. Shea – photography. Courtesy of Planet/RCA.

I purposely chose tracks that are very well know cover hits so that you can take this opportunity to also hear the amazing, but often very different, originals. There are no virgin births in Rock and Roll children, or pretty much any form of media for that matter. You never know where inspiration will take you. Listen, learn and have a real good time!

First Part

  • Fire, 1978, Robert Gordon (with Link Wray), Fresh Fish Special
  • Fire, 1979, The Pointer Sisters, Energy
  • Never Can Say Goodbye, 1971, The Jackson 5, Maybe Tomorrow
  • Never Can Say Goodbye, 1974, Gloria Gaynor, Never Can Say Goodbye
  • Midnight Plane To Houston, 1972, Jim Weatherly, Weatherly
  • Midnight Train to Georgia, 1973, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Imagination
  • Tainted Love, 1965, Gloria Jones, single B-side of “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home”
  • Tainted Love, 1981, Soft Cell, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
  • Respect, 1965, Otis Redding, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
  • Respect. 1967, Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You

Second Part

  • Summertime, 1936, Billie Holiday, Vocalion 78 RPM single A-side matrix number 19537
  • Summertime, 1966, Billy Stewart, Unbelievable
  • You Better Run, 1966, The Young Rascals, Groovin’
  • You Better Run, 1980, Pat Benatar, Crimes of Passion
  • Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While), 1965, Kim Weston, 7″ single A-side
  • Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While), 1975, The Doobie Brothers, Stampede


  • Paranoid, 1970, Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • Der Hund von Baskerville, 1971, Cindy und Bert (with the Jay Five), “Holly Holy” single B-side

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer

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