Category Archives: Music

Part 7: Original Songs and their Interpretations: ‘Girl’ (Joe Jackson) + ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ (Devo)

It’s midsummer, and time to wind-up with my 7th installment of presentations of songs/videos comparing original versions with cover interpretations.

For my final feature, I am delving into sacred musical territory by showcasing cover versions of Beatles and Stones tunes. Normally, I would not consider comparing covers for either of these bands (although, there have been many good interpretations from artists of diverse backgrounds and styles), but the purpose of this effort is to explore how even the songs by such giants can be modified, or reinterpreted, to reflect contemporary culture.

I will not bother to provide links to the originals, as they are too well known.

The first cover is by renowned composer, musician, and singer, Joe Jackson. His version of “Girl’ (Beatles’ Rubber Soul Album, 1965) is a truly unique work of art on its own; a great artist covering the work of another great artist. Magic!

The live cover version of The Rolling Stones’ classic, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ (also 1965), is by pioneering band, Devo. Although regarded by some as a cartoonish parody (see 1980’s ‘Whip it’), Devo is actually a band steeped in serious socio-political introspection. “Devo” is short for De-Evolution, a concept started at Kent State university in the late 60’s (where future band members attended), and was spearheaded into a musical group after being influenced by the tragic campus shootings in 1970.

“De-Evolution” is an idea that humankind is devolving into a primitive state, as technology — and its impact on modern society — becomes more predominant and all encompassing. Sounds all too familiar.

Please click on videos below:

‘Girl’: Joe Jackson, Live Cover.  Original: Beatles, Rubber Soul Album, 1965)


‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’: Devo, Live Cover 1978. Original: Rolling Stones, 1965

Part 6: Original Songs and their Interpretations: ‘Junco Partner’_James Waynes, 101ers, The Clash

…and now, for something a bit different.

For the 6th installment of my presentation of songs/videos comparing original versions with cover interpretations, I am showcasing three generations of “Junco Partner’.

Originally composed and sung by prisoners at Louisiana’s ‘Angola’ State prison — and eventually recorded by numerous artists over the last 60+ years — James Waynes is  credited with the first known recording of “Junco Partner‘ in 1951.

Two decades later, Joe Strummer played it with his first band, The 101ers. A live, energetic version (circa 1975) was preserved.

Five years “down the road”, Joe Strummer with the Clash recorded ‘Junco Partner’ for 1980’s Sandinista album. At this point, the song had gone from an old blues number, to an up-tempo R&B song (101ers), and now a Reggae/Dub piece (Sandinista features 2 versions). The style and recording technology may have changed over time, but the essential vibe remains.


‘Junco Partner’: James Wayne_1951


‘Junco Partner’: 101ers live (circa 1975)


‘Junco Partner’: Clash (Sandinista Album, 1980)

Part 5: Original Songs and their Interpretations: Sweet Jane _ Velvet Underground + Cowboy Junkies

And now, the fabulous 5th installment of my seemingly never-ending presentation of songs/videos comparing original versions with cover interpretations.

Sweet Jane, originally recorded in 1970 and released on the ‘Loaded’ album (minus the now classic bridge), this quintessential Velvet Underground song is showcased with a live performance featuring original band members, including Maureen (Moe) Tucker on drums.

The Cowboy Junkies’ version is from 1988, and had been referenced by Lou Reed himself as “one of his favourites”. No small praise, at all…and “heavenly”, indeed.


Velvet Underground: ‘Sweet Jane’ Live Reunion Tour


Cowboy Junkies: ‘Sweet Jane’ cover, live

Part 4: Original Songs and their Interpretations: ‘Telegram Sam’_Marc Bolan (T.Rex)_Bauhaus

Due to the enormous amount of fan mail, faxes, smoke signals, and telegrams that I have received in response to my award winning, multipart series of posting songs/videos comparing original versions with cover interpretations, I proudly continue with the 4th instalment.

Telegram Sam‘ was composed and originally released by Marc Bolan (T. Rex) in 1972. The song did not chart  as well globally as the previous release, ‘Get It On’ (although it did reach # 1 in the UK). Dig the groovy fashions!

The remake (1980) is by Bauhaus, led by enigmatic, Peter Murphy. I have chosen the promo video rather than a live version, since the video itself is a reflection of the unique style (much darker) of the post-Punk, Goth genre.

Marc Bolan (T. Rex): ‘Telegram Sam’ Live


Bauhaus: Remake of ‘Telegram Sam’ (1980)

Part 3: Original Songs and their Interpretations: ‘Wide Open Road’_Triffids + WPA

Continuing with my 3rd installment of posting songs/videos comparing original versions with cover interpretations, showcasing ‘Wide Open Road’, originally recorded and released by Australian band, The Triffids in 1986.

This is a rather dark, somber, moody ode to emptiness, both physical (as in the Australian landscape) and emotional (loneliness and desolation).

Music is much like art. The same subject can be interpreted in many tones and styles, with simple, or not so simple alterations (tempo/brush stroke, instruments/medium).

The cover version (live performance), by fellow Australian band, Weddings Parties Anything, illustrates this well. They have turned it (musically speaking) into a toe-tapping, sing-along number. The lyrics still reflect a rather melancholy narrative.

The Triffids (‘Wide Open Road’_1986)


Weddings Parties Anything: (live cover version: ‘Wide Open Road’)

Part 2: Original Songs and their Interpretations _ ‘Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’

For the 2nd installment of my series, posting original songs and their cover versions, I present an example of confusion over which is which: ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’.

Although, commonly believed to be their original song, The Crash Test Dummies’ version of ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’ (released in 1994 for the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ film soundtrack) is in fact a cover version of XTC’s original, released in 1992. The Crash Test Dummies’ version is a more “comedic” treatment of the original, dropping the second verse: “Peter Pumpkinhead fooled them all. Emptied churches and shopping malls. When he spoke, it would raise the roof. Peter Pumpkinhead told the truth“.

XTC’s Andy Partridge has never been shy to controversy. His penchant for composing songs with strong opinion is evident throughout ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”, which makes controversial comparison of JFK’s assassination to the crucifixion of Christ; pretty heavy stuff for a pop song.

XTC: ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head’


Crash Test Dummies: Cover version

Take 1, Take 2: Original Songs and their Interpretations

Greetings music enthusiasts…and those just curious about matters cultural or just plain trivial.

I will be posting songs/videos from various artists, both recent and not so recent, comparing original versions with some crafty cover interpretations.

The songs…and their cover versions were not chosen because they were/are popular, but rather because of the unique impact each version had, stylistically or lyrically, at the time of their respective release. Some may be familiar, others not so familiar. I hope you enjoy!

After much review and thought, I have chosen ‘Gimme Some Truth’ (click first link below) for the first installment. Released by John Lennon on his 1971 album, Imagine, the song is a particularly biting response to the heated political climate in the early 70’s. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The cover version is by Generation X, with a youthful Billy Idol (click 2nd link below). Released in 1978, the song is slightly updated to reflect the angst felt by British youth in that decade.

John Lennon _ ‘Gimme Some Truth’ 1971


Generation X version 1978:


Mutant Jazz: CD Concept

Mutant Jazz (Jazz Butcher + Split Enz): CD concept (From a series of CD compilation concepts I am creating for my blog)

Concept, Selection, Design, Copywriting: Robert Kramberger

Jazz Butcher:

Think of garage punk, Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground, a smattering of Pop, Blues, Country, New Age – seasoned with Lounge Jazz. That’s the JBC.

Pat Fish (A.K.A. The Jazz Butcher) and original partner in crime, Max Eider are back together after a 15 year split! Mr. Fish has been kicking around with a whole slew of musicians (some have actually been bonafide, talented Jazz folks) since the early eighties.

All this time, our pals, Pat and Max have been drinking way too much. Please enjoy the collateral damage.


Split Enz:

This is the original lineup(s) of Split Enz from the mid to late seventies. Most people only know the New Zealand/Australian band from their poppish incarnation in the eighties –

I Got You – through the Finn brothers (Neil and the original Split Enz founder, Tim) other musical outfit, Crowded House.

This stuff is really out there. Influenced by pioneers like David Bowie and Genesis (avec Peter Gabriel), these odd boys combine Pop, Classical, Traditional, and Jazz (particularly, 20’s Ragtime) with a style that defies classification. This is music that needs to be studied.

– Robert Kramberger 2015

XTC: CD Concept

XTC: CD concept (From a series of CD compilation concepts I am creating for my blog)

Concept, Selection, Design, Copywriting: Robert Kramberger

Andy Partridge – resident genius and stage shy Pagan.

XTC are:
Andy Partridge – resident genius and stage shy Pagan.
Colin Moulding – musician extraordinaire and balance.

Together, they are the core of XTC (other musicians/members have come and gone over the last 25 years).

This collection of songs covers a period from 1986 to their most release Apple Venus 2. As usual the music is quite eclectic: Classical, Jazz, Pop – and a whole lot of that special XTC sound. And yes, this is the original version of Peter Pumpkinhead (The Crash Test Dummies did a fine cover). The songs are acerbic, caustic, and occasionally controversial (Dear God got them a bit too much attention), but always with tongue firmly set in cheek.

Mr. Partridge is certainly not be a big fan of religion, marriage or touring, and for that we are most grateful. Where else would the inspiration for such superb music come from?

– Robert Kramberger 2015


The The (Matt Johnson): CD concept

The The (Matt Johnson): CD concept (From a series of CD compilation concepts I am creating for my blog)

Concept, Selection, Design, Copywriting: Robert Kramberger

I have been waiting for tomorrow (all of my life)

Matt Johnson was still a scrawny teenager when he released his first album Burning Blue Soul, in 1981. Critically acclaimed, commercially paralyzed, it was a brave, pionneering effort in Tech., Electronica, Soul and Blues. Odd mix? You bet. Plus he played every instrument! Very brave, indeed.

Over 20 years later, Mr. Johnson (A.K.A. The The) continues to explore new musical textures and genres – including an entire album of Hank Williams Sr. covers. Unlike his very early efforts, Matt now works with exceptional musicians, including the likes of Guitarist, Johnny Marr.

Regardless of the actual mucical style he tackles, Matt describes his work collectively as “Blue Soul” (hence the name of the first album). His songs “mine the soul” to discover “all of life’s little ironies.”

This music will stir your soul, or make you feel blue – but it’s all good. Good for the soul that is. So, dim the lights, crank the volume, and spend a little quality time with yourself. The effect is cleansing.

– Robert Kramberger 2015