Tune du Jour: “I’ll Be There” – The Jackson 5
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Me First & The Gimme Gimmes vs. The Replacements vs. D.A. Sebasstian
CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com


"Free markets will not prevail without unfettered competition among cover songs." - Milton Friedbyrd

“Free markets will not prevail without unfettered competition among cover songs.” – Milton Friedbyrd

 I’ll Be There was written for the Jackson 5 by Berry Gordy, Hal Davis, Willie Hutch and Bob West. The Jackson 5 recorded it for Motown Records in September 1970.  I’ll Be There became the Jackson 5’s fourth #1 hit in a row, making them the first black male group to achieve four consecutive #1 pop hits.

The most successful single ever released by the Jackson 5, I’ll Be There sold 4.2 million copies in the United States, and 6.1 million copies worldwide. It replaced Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine as the most successful single released on Motown in the U.S., a record it held until the release of Lionel Richie’s duet with Diana Ross, Endless Love (1981). Outside the U.S., I Heard It Through the Grapevine remained Motown’s biggest selling record with worldwide sales of over seven million copies.


The Original


The Jackson 5:


Another #1 Hit Version


Mariah Carey & Trey Lorenz:

Mariah Carey included I’ll Be There as a last-minute addition to her MTV Unplugged setlist (1992), after she had been informed that most acts on the show commonly performed at least one cover. Carey’s label, Columbia Records, had not planned to release the unplugged version of I’ll Be There as a single but after receiving large-scale requests they relented. I’ll Be There became Carey’s sixth #1 single in the U.S., and her biggest hit elsewhere at the time.


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Me First & The Gimme Gimmes vs. The Replacements vs. D.A. Sebasstian


Me First & The Gimme Gimmes:

Well they do claim to be the greatest cover band in the world…

The Replacements:

From a legendary live and muddled show, which was captured on the very rare album, The Shit Hits the Fans. The fiasco was unprofessionally recorded at The Bowery, in Oklahoma City on November 11, 1984, and provides a representative sample of The Replacements in all their inebriated glory.

D.A. Sebasstian:

Front man for Seattle’s industrial rock band, Kill Switch…Klick, D.A. Sebasstian provided this tune for the cover song compilation album, Teen Feeding Frenzy. Love the fade-out on this gem.


Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 



Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    When I was about 10 years old the Jackson 5 were my favorite singing group. I loved all their singles, they way they looked and the excitement when they played. And now, a few decades later, I find that I still enjoy hearing those songs. I suppose if I heard someone singing I’ll Be There today for the first time I might not care too much for the song or for them. But that’s not what happened. And I have enough confidence and security in myself (after years of therapy) to acknowledge that I even like Mariah Carey’s rendition. As for the 3 official covers presented here, I can find nary a thing wrong with any of them. So I’m going to go with D.A. Sebasstian because I I like the line about sleeping on the couch. I know that Dubbsie would let me sleep on his couch, and I know that he’ll be there for me.

  2. Arnold Plotnick says:

    I, too, was a J5 fan as a kid. I used to watch their show, and I had all their 45s. My personal favorite was The Love You Save, but I liked them all, and I had ABC, Mama’s Pearl, and I’ll Take You Back all on singles. They were a staple of Motown parties, which were fun.

    I was wondering how many days would have to go by before Richie posted another Me First and the Gimme Gimmes video. I think this must be a record. Imagine my shock when I found myself voting for them here. At first, I thought Richie made a mistake and that they were going to start singing The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”. I mean, the intro was identical. But no. I really really wanted to like the Replacements’ version, but the fidelity was just too poor and the version too uninspired. D.A. Sebastian has, like, a two-note vocal range. It just didn’t cut it. As for Doug’s Mariah Carey statement, all I know is that I’m glad we have it in print, so if he ever decides to run for Knesset, he’ll never be able to disavow it.

  3. RDubbs says:

    I love the early Motown sound. While some acts were obviously superior to others, I don’t think there was an early Motown band that I disliked. And while I completely lack confidence and security in myself, I too will step up and openly embrace Mariah Carey’s rendition. Although as I watched that video I would have preferred to openly embrace Mariah Carey with or without the song. While I’m not a fan of Carey’s music it is ludicrous not to acknowledge that she has an awesome voice and it worked perfectly with this old Motown gem. So, alas, I suppose my career in the Knesset is also screwed. And that was one of the last career possibilities I was still clinging to.

    As far as the covers go, I feel like Woody Allan assessing the Academy Awards. It’s near impossible for me to choose a winner out of these three different yet cherished covers. I’ll Be There is one of Me Too etal’s best covers and considering they’ve covered about 98% of the world’s known music catalog that’s saying something. Yes, Arnie, they do begin with a quick riff from the Cars. They have occasionally used that type of misdirection on other covers, my favorite being the use of Stiff Little Fingers’ Suspect Device to open their cover of Billy Joel’s putrid The Longest Time.

    I love pretty much love all of The Replacements’ The Shit Hits the Fans. The band is plowed and the audience (reportedly about 30 in number) have grown tired of one cover after another, especially since many were attempted off the cuff without knowledge of the entire song. And for some reason Westerberg’s sappy “Thank You” at about 30 second mark never fails to crack me up.

    And D.A. Sebasstian’s sardonic romp is a joy to ears. The “asides” that pepper the rendition and fade out are sheer perfection.

    So what I’m trying to say is … well, I’m not telling which one I voted for.

  4. Kerry Black says:

    I listened to them all and was prepared to vote for Mariah Carey when I realized she wasn’t among the choices. I’m so used to dismissing her in recent years, it’s easy to forget she could/can really sing when the material suits her talents. I also forgot that she was rather easy on the eyes once upon a time.

    My favorite Jackson 5 song: “Rockin’ Robin”.

  5. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Twiddly diddly dee, twiddlydiddlydee, twiddly diddly dee, twiddlydiddlydee, twiddly diddly dee, twiddlydiddlydee tweet tweet tweet tweet… thanks, Kerry, for putting that goddamn song in my head for the next umpteen days. Bastard.

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