Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 16th 2020
A continued look at 2008 in music
As I mentioned in my Songs of 2008 column, this month has been the month of reader requests. And the reader who requested that column has now received two for the price of one. See, there were so many great tracks that I decided when I looked at my initial list that I had to put the cover songs in a column all of their own. Said reader, by the way, is more than happy about that.
Now, I do have the same rules as last time – one song per artist (sort of) and no live tracks. I should mention that Sandi Thom did a great version of a David Bowie song, but I couldn't work out if it was 2007 or 2008, and then it didn't matter because I could not find a single copy of it anywhere online. Oh well. Now, back to the rules. While I have maintained the rules, it will become obvious that quite a few of the songs come from the same album – Easy Fever: A Tribute To The Easybeats And Stevie Wright. A bunch of Australian artists recorded their own versions of the songs of the classic Australian 1960s band and the solo works of the lead singer.
That is the main reason why this column was needed as a separate one – that is such a great album! Mind you, Australian artists are really good at this. The Cold Chisel one was awesome, the Finn Brothers one by female artists was great, and so on. Yes, I own too many. But the songs are well worth it.
And with that introduction out of the way, let's start with two re-recordings.
'Infinity 2008' by Guru Josh Project
In 1989/1990 Guru Josh released 'Infinity', a track that was everywhere. I was at university and even there it was all over the place. It was the saxophone, I think. Then, 18 years later, a remake featuring different lyrics came out under the name of the Guru Josh Project with others working on it. Though not as good as the original, this is still a fine bit of dance music. Guru Josh himself passed away at the depressingly young age of 51 in 2015.
'Something Good 08' by Utah Saints
What was a fun little track from 1992 was given a dance beat upgrade and re-released 16 years later. No real reason, as far as I can ascertain, except that it fit the times really well. Well, I like it, and I like the remake. And the video clip is just bizarre.
All right! Now let's hit the cover versions! There are 12 here (so 14 tracks all up). Enjoy!
' Everybody's Talkin'' by Crowded House
From the early days of the Triple-J Like A Version project, this version of the old Nilsson song is a beautiful rendering of that classic track. They do an incredible job, live in the radio studio. Interestingly, this is the only LaV track in this list; regular readers will know how many tracks from this appear in other years.
'Forever Young' by Audra Mae
A Bob Dylan cover track, and a mighty fine one, taken from the from the soundtrack of the biker TV series Sons Of Anarchy, which is where I first heard it. As I said last time I spoke about this, this is a stunningly beautiful version of the song. The more I listen to it, the more I think it is the best version of this song. Yet again, Bob Dylan being outdone by a cover version of his work.
'Friday On My Mind' by Ben Lee
And we come to the first track from Easy Fever. What I like about this version, unlike nearly every other cover of the song, is the way it does not go the hard rock route. It is an easy version of the track. Piano-led and with Lee's very Wright-like voice, it is great.
'I Want Your Love' by Nick Skitz featuring Melissa Tkautz
The old Transvision Vamp song done by an EDM producer with a former Australian soapie actress on vocals. I don't know why I like it – it is the sort of music I generally ignore – but here it is. Actually, I think it's the guitar in it. That's pretty cool. I even own the CD Single, with 6 different mixes. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy.
'I Write The Songs' by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
My favourite "turn the song into a punk rocker" band are back in one of my lists, this time taking the Barry Manilow song (which he didn't actually write) and giving it a much-needed rock make-over. This takes what is essentially a schmaltzy song and makes it decent. In my opinion!
'Let The Good Times Roll' by Brad Paisley & B.B. King
Following on from the first column, another Brad Paisley track! I do not know who did this song originally, but this is a fine version. Paisley is a good guitarist, but King is excellent. This track is a really good piece of country-blues. There is a reason Paisley is my favourite country music artist.
'Many Rivers To Cross' by Annie Lennox
The old Jimmy Cliff song done by one of the finest female singers to have emerged in the past fifty years. The video shows a live version, but the studio version was released as a precursor single to a greatest hits package. And what a way to introduce her to people! Her voice soars. She is amazing.
'Sad And Lonely And Blue' by Iva Davies
Back to Easy Fever and Icehouse frontman Iva Davies. He gives it a more up-to-date sound with a wall of music and echoed vocals, the song slowed down a little. He makes it sound like an Iva Davies song, not just a cover of The Easybeats. Nicely done.
'She's So Fine' by Thirsty Merc Between me typing this and then going to put it up, the only video of this song has been taken down. I apologise for the inconvenience.
A pretty straightforward rendition of the track, maybe a little heavier, but not much, showing that the Easybeats really did lead directly into the pub rock of the Australian landscape we know today. Well, considering two members of the Easybeats were the first producers of AC/DC, is it any surprise?
'The Wild One' by Iggy Pop & Jet
A track I have as a bonus song on a Johnny O'Keefe greatest hits CD, they really hit it out of the park. The version is as short as the original with weird instrumentation throughout, and you can really get a feel of the fact they were giving it their all. Pop famously did a version of the song in 1986, so this is almost a remake of his cover. It's all very confusing.
'Valerie' by Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
Originally by The Zutons in 2006, this version I actually prefer. I liked some of Winehouse's songs, but this one is one of the better she recorded in her short career. Ronson is a producer extraordinaire, and not a bad muso either.
'Women (Make You Feel Alright)' by Neil Finn
I'm not counting this as a repeated artist because the song at the start of the list was by Crowded House, and this is by Neil as a solo performer. He gives the classic Easybeats song a little bit more bass and rock grunt. And he does a really good job.
And there we have it, cover versions from 2008. Another 14 tracks to add to the 15 on the first column. Almost 30 awesome tracks from the year. Can't ask for much more than that, can we?