Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published May 23rd 2020
1995 was awesome
Recently, I looked at the songs of 1995 and came to the conclusion that there were an awful lot of really good, nay great, music released in that year. My music collection grew out of sight and I let myself go out of my comfort zone of 1980s, retro (60s) music, rock (I was into grunge early on) and classic rock. Britpop had a lot to do with that, and going to as many live gigs as I could afford.
I went to pub gigs, I went to big-name concerts. I went to beer gardens, I went to clubs. If there was a live band, I'd go. I tried writing reviews for the shows I'd seen, but only 2 ever got published, so I gave up and just enjoyed the music. Now, if you go to a lot of mid and small-sized acts (I mean crowd size, not number of musicians and not people of variable height) you see a lot of cover versions. So many cover versions! If I never hear another cover of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' it'll be too soon.
But the pub acts were not the only ones doing covers, re-recordings or re-interpretations of songs. Quite a few albums included them as well!
And so, here is the list.
Now, as I mentioned, I bought a lot of albums in 1995… and quite a few of these songs do not appear in video clip form on this here Internet, even a picture of the band with the song playing in the background. I apologise, but there's very little I can do, not owning the permissions or rights to upload them myself.
Only one rule (apart from being released initially in 1995, on album or single) – no live tracks. All of these exist on albums… and, worse, on albums I own. Yes, seriously.
Part 1: Re-Interpretations
'Gangsta's Paradise' by Coolio
This re-interpretation of Stevie Wonder's 'Pastime Paradise' was the biggest selling song of 1995. It was everywhere. You could not avoid it. But the chorus was based on Wonder's classic song from Songs In The Key of Life. One of the few rap/hip-hop songs I like.
'(Let's Go) Smoke Some Pot' by Dash Rip Rock
This re-interpretation of 'At The Hop' by Danny and The Juniors into a song about smoking dope is hilarious. It's not a parody, per se, as they were serious. The whole album is not too bad. But the bit where they sing, "There were supposed to be some words here but I forgot them because I smoked too much pot…" about sums it up.
Part 2: Re-Recordings
'Heaven For Everyone' by Queen
A song written by Roger Taylor for his side project The Cross, this was recorded with Freddie Mercury doing guest vocals. Come time to record the last Queen album Made In Heaven and Queen re-recorded it as a Queen song. This version is a little smoother and over-produced, but is still a fine song.
'I Was Born To Love You' by Queen
This was originally a 1982 Freddie Mercury solo recording, again redone for that last album. The Queen version is actually better than the original; there is something about letting a band of very talented musicians work on a track.
'Turn Up Your Radio '95' by The Masters Apprentices with The Hoodoo Gurus
To celebrate 30 years of the Masters Apprentices, they teamed up with another awesome Australia band, Hoodoo Gurus, to re-record this version that just belts along. It's almost as good as the original. So many instruments! Just great. I love this song no matter how it's played… and it's not the last time we'll see it in this list!
Part 3: Covers
'Baby Please Don't Go' by Psycho Zydeco
Zydeco is a form of music from the New Orleans area of the south of the USA. With accordions, guitars, percussion and brass and other instruments, I really enjoy it. Psycho Zydeco are an Australian band that play it so well. I've seen them live a few times, bought a few of their albums, and, well, this version of the old blues classic suits them down to the ground. Try and find a copy – it is so worth it.
'Badge' by Jeff Healey Band
Very few guitarists would dare tackle an Eric Clapton classic, especially one recorded by Cream. Jeff Healey, the blind virtuoso, was not just any guitarist. He was an amazing talent, and his passing at a young age was tragic. But he left us music, and this cover version is far better than it had any right to be. It showed us that he was no flash in the pan – he was the real deal. A modern-day guitar hero.
'Bohemian Rhapsody' by The Cruel Sea
Here is a song I missed when I did my list of covers of 'Bo-Rap'. Why did I miss it? Because I had not finished unpacking from moving house. This was in one of the last boxes I emptied. Shame, because it deserved to be there. A lot more laid back than Queen's version, it is still quite wonderful. The Cruel Sea are a great Australian band.
'Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy' by Wax
In 1995 a bunch of alternative rock acts released a great album called Saturday Morning: Cartoon's Greatest Hits where they recorded versions of classic cartoon theme songs in their own style. This is one of the best, amping up the strange song from Ren & Stimpy to something really odd but so enjoyable.
'Jailbreak' by Yothu Yindi
One of Australia's greatest Indigenous bands covering one of Australia's greatest rock bands. I mean, how could it not be great? It's a pretty straight forward cover, with the added bonus of some Indigenous instrumentation along with the guitar and drums. Great mix, great cover.
'Laydown (Candles In The Rain)' by Max Sharam
The song by Melanie from the 60s covered by an Australian singer who I have not heard from in too many years. She was (is?) brilliant. It's a pretty straight-forward cover but Sharam's voice soars and this is a magnificent version.
'Left In The Dark' by Meat Loaf
This is a cover of a song written by Jim Steinman, first appearing on his solo album Bad For Good, and made popular by Barbra Streisand. Yep, Meat Loaf is covering Streisand… essentially. This is a song that needs an over-the-top singer to make it work, and this works. I've said it before, I'll say it again – Meat Loaf is the perfect foil for Jim Steinman's writing.
'Misty Mountain Hop' 4 Non Blondes
A cover of the Led Zeppelin track, done for a covers album. This was the only track on that album that did anything for me, and it is a really strong cover. It is relatively straight forward, but the female voices add a different dimension to it. Like I said, only cover off the album I still enjoy.
'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)' by Marilyn Manson
Take the 1980s pop song by the Eurythmics and get shock rocker Marilyn Manson to sing it. Suddenly a song that sounds smooth becomes desperate and threatening. Some people say a good cover needs to give a song a different sound; in that case, this works. Even without the weird video, this is a creepy version of the song. Manson is an acquired taste, I know that, but I can like some of his stuff.
'The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)' by Liz Phair with Material Issue
Back to the Cartoon album, and the best song from it. I liked this show as a kid, and loved this title track, and Liz Phair and co. make it into something rocking and awesome. Hint for those playing at home: playing this at the gym often results in spontaneous 1960s style dancing. Serious. Eight of us. Or maybe we're just weird.
'Turn Up Your Radio' by Psycho Zydeco
Back to Psycho Zydeco with this cover of that classic Australian track. Weird year for this track, huh? Again, no video, but I am sure if you do manage to find it, you'll be impressed.
So, there we are. 1995 was such a great year! Between the two columns, there's over 2 hours of music to enjoy. I love doing lists like this. The amount of music I listen to that does not make it to the lists is huge and in this case, it was very loud. It's been a while since I listened to some of these albums; I am so glad I have. It's brought a smile to my face.
I hope it's done the same for you, too!
And, of course, this was the year Microsoft started their attempt at world domination...