Posts Tagged ‘Billy Bragg’

Tune du Jour: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Billy Bragg & Florence + the Machine vs. Third Eye Blind
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com

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"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

The Pogues’ Christmas masterpiece, Fairytale of New York, was released in 1987 on their album, If I Should Fall From Grace with God. The song, written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan, features female vocal accompaniment by Kirsty MacColl and string arrangements by Fiachra Trench. It was originally planned as a duet by Shane MacGowan and Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan, but O’Riordan left the band in 1986 before the song was completed. At the time the Pogues were being produced by Kirsty MacColl’s husband, Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite asked his wife to provide a guide vocal of the female part for a demo version of the song. However, the Pogues were so impressed with MacColl’s contribution that they asked her to sing the part on the actual recording. Fairytale of New York has correctly been cited as the best Christmas song of all time in various television, radio and magazine related polls in the UK and Ireland.

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The Original

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The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl:

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Billy Bragg with Florence + the Machine vs. Third Eye Blind
Billy Bragg with Florence + the Machine

Billy Bragg is a recipient of CMI’s universally coveted title of Uni Victor Melodious Maximus in Adversarial Replication. Among the title’s myriad of rewards and benefits, perhaps most desirous is that it bestows upon the recipient the eminently yearned for privilege of having one’s name appear in print media in bold yellow.

Billy Bragg’s triumphal performance in CMI’s THE CLASH of Cover Tunes competition is detailed below:

11/18/2013 – “Which Side Are You On?” (Almanac Singers) – Billy Bragg (57%) bests Dropkick Murphys (43%)

This is a live rendition of Fairytale of New York played on BBC Radio 1 on December 19, 2009. I read somewhere that Bragg and Florence got the idea to play Fairytale of New York about two hours before the Christmas special was to begin. Assuming that’s accurate then this is what they put together within a couple of hours. Brilliant!

Third Eye Blind:

I read somewhere that Third Eye Blind got the idea to cover Fairytale of New York precisely 12 seconds before the studio tapes began to roll. Not bad…

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

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

Tune du Jour: “St Swithin’s Day” – Billy Bragg
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Ben Gibbard vs. Mary Lou Lord
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com     CoverMeImpressed.com

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Broccoli Fields Forever ...

Broccoli, You’re My Reason To Get Out Of Bed Before Noon …

“It first dawned on Bragg that he was capable of writing such a song in the early 1980s. ‘I played “St Swithin’s Day” to the woman I was living with at the time, and she just burst into tears,’ he recalls. ‘I thought, “OK, that seems to have done the trick.” Because before that, having been a punk rocker, there were other ideas I was trying to get across, there were other feelings I was trying to get out of people.’” – Billy Bragg

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The Original

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Billy Bragg:

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Ben Gibbard vs. Mary Lou Lord

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Ben Gibbard:

Mary Lou Lord:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

Also, keep in mind that if you should spontaneously self-actualize while playing a cover then you could – and probably should – nominate it for Top 10 (i.e. “Impeccable”) consideration.

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Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

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

Broccoli Fields Forever ...

Broccoli Fields Forever …

The consummate union song, “Which Side Are You On?”, was written by Florence Reece in 1931. Reece was the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931, the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men (hired by the mining company) illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?” on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low”, or the traditional ballad “Jack Munro”.  (Mostly extracted from Wikipedia, so who knows if any of it is accurate; but it makes for a nice blog intro.)

The first first studio release of “Which Side Are You On?” was recorded in 1941 by The Almanac Singers. The Almanac Singers was a politically and socially progressive folk band founded by Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. The group’s line-up often expanded and contracted as new members, as well as Woody, came and went regularly. Woody once famously referred to The Almanac Singers as “the only group in the world that rehearsed on stage.”

Over the years “Which Side Are You On?” has been a staple for union organizing as well as worker demonstrations and strikes. The song has been covered by many and the lyrics have often been revised to reflect current political, economic and social issues.

The Original

The Almanac Singers:

Florence Reese:

This is surely one woman not to be trifled with!

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The Cover Songs Competition

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Billy Bragg vs. Dropkick Murphys

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Billy Bragg:

Dropkick Murphys:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

Also, keep in mind that if you should spontaneously self-actualize while playing a cover then you could – and probably should – nominate it for Top 10 (i.e. “Impeccable”) consideration.

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Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

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

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Broccoli Fields Forever ...

Broccoli Fields Forever

Singles Only

Singles are cover songs without a mate (a.k.a. opponent). I’ve searched high, low and in between and my research indicates these particular songs were covered once and only once. Why would a band cover a song so obscure that no other band on the planet is interested in also doing so? How the hell should I know? But I do have a few of these rarities and it is now part of your solemn responsibility to listen to them. No competition on this day. Rather unabashed reverence, reflection and repose. Enjoy …

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Learning How to Love You – The Original

Very nice tune hear by John Hiatt. That’s Ry Cooder on guitar and Nick Lowe on bass (and Sawyer and Claire on the beach)

John Hiatt:

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Learning How to Love You -The Cover

Anne Richmond Boston, originally of the cult-favorite Swimming Pool Q’s, knocks out a sweet cover of John Hiatt’s Learning How to Love You.

Anne Richmond Boston:

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Sailors & Soldiers – The Original

Based on my research, Phil Ochs never actually released this song. I could not find a studio or live version by Phil anywhere. If anyone knows of an available version by Phil then please let me know.

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Sailors & Soldiers – The Cover

This cut is from a Phil Ochs tribute disc (“What’s That I Hear: The Songs of Phil Ochs”). Considering a version by Phil does not seem to exist I have no idea how Sid Griffin & Billy Bragg were aware of it or why they would have selected such an obscure number for the tribute disc. Musicians … Who the hell knows what’s up with them?

Sid Griffin & Billy Bragg:

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Broc 4L

Broccoli For Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles … Oh Yeah!

The Original

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:

The Cover Songs Competition

Two outstanding, yet very different, covers of a masterpiece.

Billy Bragg vs. Soul Asylum

Billy Bragg:

Very old video of Bragg singing a classic. He’s always been a big admirer of Motown and you could see it in his face how much he respects this classic.

Soul Asylum:

These guys are so cool. In 1997 Grand Forks, North Dakota suffered terrible flooding. Torrential downpours caused the Red River to rise threatening homes and the city. High school kids spent the Spring sandbagging the water banks fighting for their home town’s survival. That year the Prom was the furthest thing from those kids’ minds.  Yet, somehow someone got a hold of the band and asked them to play at the Prom. At the time Soul Asylum was at the height of their commercial success. But they gladly agreed and heartily prepared, learning a few standard Prom songs for the occasion. There was massive damage to the city. Soul Asylum played the Prom that evening in an unaffected airplane hanger. For at least one night, high school kids clad in formal attire and townsfolk were able to forget their troubles and enjoy an amazing evening of music. As the town spokesman put it, “As Winston Churchill said after World War II, ‘Never Have So Many Done So Much For So Few.'” Who would have guessed that a hard-rockin’ band like Soul Asylum would receive such a well-earned Winstonian complement?

After The Flood: Live From The Grand Forks Prom, June 28, 1997:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

Also, keep in mind that if you should spontaneously self-actualize while playing a cover then you could – and probably should – nominate it for Top 10 (i.e. “Impeccable”) consideration.

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Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

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