20 July 2007

Mix Tape Friday: POP! Goes the Alt Bands

God, I love cover tunes. It’s interesting to hear the songs a band covers — you get a hint about what they're listening to. And it's fun to hear them play a song for a goof (see: Richard Thompson's cover of "Oops, I Did It Again" a few weeks back). As with most music-obsessed folks, I have a huge collection of cover tunes — more than a hundred by R.E.M. alone — so this will be a fun recurring theme on Mix Tape Fridays.

This week: pop tunes covered by alternative and punk bands. Can you name the original artists?

1. R.E.M.: Dragging the Line (Tommy James & The Shondells)

2. Foo Fighters: Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)

3. Lemonheads: Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel)

4. Grant Lee Buffalo: In My Room (Beach Boys)

5. Sonic Youth: Superstar (The Carpenters)

6. Wilco: Thirteen (Big Star)

7. Cracker: Rainy Days and Mondays (The Carpenters)

8. Twilight Singers: Kites Are Fun (The Free Design)

9. The Beautiful South: Dream a Little Dream of Me (The Mamas & The Papas)

10. Hüsker Dü: Love Is All Around (Theme to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show")

11. Decemberists: Think About Me (Fleetwood Mac)

12. Ultrahorse: Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealers Wheel)

13. Johnny Thunders: These Boots Are Made for Walking (Nancy Sinatra)

14. Fine Young Cannibals: Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)

15. Stranglers: 96 Tears (? and The Mysterians)

16. Everclear: Our Lips Are Sealed (Fun Boy Three/The Go-Go's)

17. Alex Chilton: Volare (Dean Martin/Al Martino)

18. Coolies: Having My Baby (Paul Anka)

19. Ramones: Needles and Pins (The Searchers)

20. English Beat: Can't Get Used to Losing You (Andy Williams/Chad & Jeremy)

21. R.E.M.: Out in the Country (Three Dog Night)

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At 7/19/2007 11:58:00 PM, Blogger jewgirl said...

you have such scandalous taste in music. love it. most excellent choices.

At 7/20/2007 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Be sure to listen to the adorable, Nudie-suited Mike Mills singing "Out in the Country"; that's what I'm listening to right now.

At 7/20/2007 12:25:00 AM, Blogger jewgirl said...

downloading from itunes this very minute. back in a flash.

At 7/20/2007 12:29:00 AM, Blogger jewgirl said...

IT'S NOT THERE. where else can I download it??? any ideas, oh great music queen.

At 7/20/2007 12:34:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Those links on the page lead you to actual MP3s ... and they'll be available to you and all my beloved readers for the next couple of weeks. Please download and enjoy — just let me know which ones you love and hate.

At 7/20/2007 01:24:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

1. Tommy Jaynes and the Shondells.

2. Gerry Rafferty

3. Simon and Garfunkel

4. Bangles

7. Carpenters

12. Stealers Wheel

13. Nancy Sinatra

14. Elvis Presley

15. Question Mark and the Mysterians

16. Go Go's

18. Paul Anka

At 7/20/2007 01:33:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Filling in after the good doctor Monkey Von Monkerstein:

4. The Beach Boys

5. The Carpenters (I haveta get that tribute album, I think!)

10. The Troggs (I like R.E.M.'s version, too)

16. Fun Boy Three! (I just posted their version on me blog)

17. Dean Martin

At 7/20/2007 01:39:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

R. MONKEY: Ah, so close to a perfect score ... except for #4. Splotchy got that one.

SPLOTCHY: You should have listened. I love that Troggs/R.E.M. tune, too ... but this is a different "Love Is All Around." And Fun Boy Three did "Our Lips Are Sealed" first, didn't they? Need to update the blog. BTW, I have that Carpenters tribute album; charm me and I'll send you the MP3s.

At 7/20/2007 01:52:00 AM, Blogger Moxie said...

I thought Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Gos wrote "Our Lips are Sealed". Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean they were the first to record it.

I just found an online karaoke website called Singshot. Have you heard of this? It is super cool - I will record some songs soon. But I must ask, why for the love of Valerie Plame must there be such cool stuff on the Internets when I need to work???

At 7/20/2007 02:19:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

According to Wikipedia, "Our Lips Are Sealed" was written by Jane Wiedlin and Fun Boy Three's Terry Hall. I have a copy of Jane singing with FBT.

Gotta check out Singshot!

At 7/20/2007 07:27:00 AM, Blogger David Amulet said...

I love the Foos' version of Baker Street--classic song!!!

-- david

At 7/20/2007 09:14:00 AM, Anonymous HollyC said...

9. Mamas and the Papas
21. Three Dog Night?

At 7/20/2007 09:21:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

DAVID AMULET: Dave Grohl is one of those who covers tunes across the genre board — and he always does a damn fine job doing it.

HOLLYC: You are correct, ma'am!

At 7/20/2007 10:14:00 AM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Foo Fighters may well be my all-time fave band. Somehow, I hadn't heard that old cover before. It's always cool to hear something for the first time from your favorites!

At 7/20/2007 10:22:00 AM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Oh, and BTW, just a couple months till their next album!!!!!

At 7/20/2007 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

One of our radio stations used to play that "Baker Street" cover a lot. Wouldn't you love to hang with Dave? I think he's having more fun than anybody.

At 7/20/2007 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Old Lady said...

You and H always bring the nostalgia out in me!

At 7/20/2007 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Zed said...

Beth, you're so good to do this so consistently for all of us. You're the best. Thanks again!

At 7/20/2007 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...


You've hit a few of my favorites, most prominent being the Sonic Youth version of "Superstar"...that is the BEST stalker song ever maybe. And I love the FYC cover of "Suspicious Minds" too...heck, I love half the songs on your list, and I'm sure I'd love the other half if I heard them.

At 7/20/2007 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

#19, The Searchers
#20 Andy Williams. This is one of my favorite-ever covers. Love their cover of Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown, as well.

#10 The Troggs? Not positive on that one.

At 7/20/2007 11:54:00 AM, Blogger lulu said...

God I love covers. That Carpenders'cover CD is so much fun! I am partial to the Shonan Knife one myself.


At 7/20/2007 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

OLD LADY: No better time machine than music, is there?

ZED: Glad you're enjoying this series! I have a lot of fun putting these mix tapes together.

BUBS: Click and listen to those you're not familiar with, and you may have some new faves. Isn't Thurston Moore the bomb on "Superstar"?

JOHNNY: *ding*ding* ... and almost *ding.* I don't think anyone's actually listened to the Hüsker Dü track, so y'all keep thinking Troggs ... but Mr. Mould covers something much more fun.

LULU: I love that Shonen Knife tune, too. The entire CD kicks ass.

At 7/20/2007 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Covers can be so much fun. We have a file of Radiohead singing Wonderwall, with Thom doing his best Gallagher snear impression and then the band breaks down in giggles. It's glorious.

Thanks for this. It will provide hours of amusement!

At 7/20/2007 12:55:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

OMG, what a fabulous mix! I love covers. This is my favorite mix so far :O)

At 7/20/2007 01:19:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

PS this mix is now on my iPod. Thank you! *HUGGLES*

At 7/20/2007 01:56:00 PM, Blogger blueblanket said...

Cover tunes by unexpected bands are such great finds! Great list!

At 7/20/2007 02:12:00 PM, Blogger wonderturtle said...

I will always harbor a grudge against Fine Young Cannibals for picking their band name before me.

At 7/20/2007 02:40:00 PM, Blogger kissyface said...

Beth - THANK YOU SO MUCH for the Wilco version. I had just learned of it, and now I have it. I think it's better than Elliott Smith's (god rest him). Just beautiful, especially as I've a great weakness for all things legit country. Love them twangy guitars.

How do you post mp3s on the blog? I'm sadly deficient in the tech knowledge.

At 7/20/2007 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BARBARA: I have that Radiohead cover; I'd forgotten all about it! Listening to it now. Thom does a great Liam, doesn't he?

MELLOWLEE: I'm so glad you downloaded them all. You'll have to let me know what you love and hate!

BLUEBLANKET: Thanks! I had fun putting this one together.

WONDERTURTLE: Those bastards. They're now dead to me!

KISSYFACE: I like the Elliott Smith version ... but I LOVE Wilco's cover. Tweedy's voice and that pedal steel melt me. E-mail me at the address on my navbar, and I'll send you the MP3-posting instructions.

At 7/20/2007 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Beth, have you ever heard the Troggs tape? They were trying to record a follow-up to Wild Thing, and were having a rough time in the studio. They started arguing, and the engineer kept the tape rolling. It's a classic. And ironically, I think it was "Love Is All Around" that they were recording.

I've got a great version of Richard and Linda Thompson's "Shoot Out the Lights" that Bob Mould did.

At 7/20/2007 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I have The Troggs. Love them. There was an album about fifteen years ago that Peter Buck & Co. played on — Athens Andover — that's good, too.

But the Hüsker Dü I have here is not that same "Love Is All Around." You'll get it when you listen to it.

But I don't have Bob Mould's "Shoot out the Lights"; looks like I'll be trollin' the 'net tonight. Wanna hear something cool? I was just listening to Richard & Linda on the rough cut of next week's mix tape!

At 7/20/2007 03:23:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Merci beaucoup for the music. You're the bestest. Did ya like my mix?

At 7/20/2007 03:28:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I really enjoyed your mix. My home PC is still acting funky, so I couldn't get everything downloaded last night, but I'm gonna grab it all this weekend. I did get "Ooh Child" — fabulous!

At 7/20/2007 04:19:00 PM, Blogger pezda said...

I went on a huge covers tear last year, and ended up making a six disc compilation set. Some of my favorites:
Gomez - Getting Better (Beatles)
Rachid Taha - Rock el Casbah (Clash)
Love Spit Love - How Soon Is Now? Smiths)
R.E.M - There She Goes Again (Velvet Underground)
R.E.M - I Am Superman (The Clique)
R.E.M. - Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground)
Muse - Feeling Good (Nina Simone)
Social Distortion - Ring Of Fire (Johnny Cash)
The Clash - I Fought The Law (Crickets)
The Soup Dragons - I'm Free (The Rolling Stones)
Beck - True Love Will Find You In
The End (Daniel Johnston)
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Saturday Night (Bay City Rollers)
The Shins - We Will Become Silhouettes(Postal Service)
Beth Orton - It's Not the Spotlight (Rod Stewart)
EEls - Living Life (Daniel Johnston)
Camper Van Beethoven - Pictures of Matchstick Men (Status Quo)
The Trash Can Sinatras - Ghost of an American Astronaut (Mekons)
Sarah McLaughlin - Dear God (XTC)
The Beatles - Twist and Shout (The Isley Brothers)
Electronic - Can't Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)
Toad The Wet Sprocket - Rock and Roll All Night (Kiss)
Fiona Apple - Across The Universe (John Lennon)

Err, sorry, I got carried away.

At 7/20/2007 04:39:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

funny! i didn't realize husker du did a cover of mary tyler moore theme. it must be that minneapolis connection.

At 7/20/2007 08:58:00 PM, Blogger Michael K said...

Holy crap! The English Beat came on the internet radio station I was listening to when I read their entry.

At 7/21/2007 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I haven't heard 96 Tears in ages and The Stranglers did it right Beth, awesome list.

At 7/21/2007 01:52:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I don't normallly like cover songs, but some of these sound like they could be fun. I heard Paul Anka recorded a cover album a few years ago and I heard his cover of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," which was hilariously awesome.

At 7/21/2007 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Oh my god!! You put the Husker Du MTM cover up! I've been trying to get that for a long time now.


You rock.

At 7/22/2007 03:26:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

PEZDA: Never, ever apologize about music obsession on this blog; that's why I exist! Plus, I need to suck up to you for some covers trading ...

M: You know, I have never thought of the Minneapolis connection until now ... and I've loved this cover for years. You are so cool, M.

MICHAEL K: So cool! The English Beat has reformed, and was just in town with 311. 311 bores me enough to have kept me from going to the show ... dammit.

DALE: Thank you, sir!

BECKEYE: Be sure to listen to this "Having My Baby." It's a hoot straight out of the mid-1980s.


At 7/22/2007 03:40:00 PM, Blogger Scrivener said...

Cool mix! I think I prefer the Joan Jett version of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. Do you have that one?

At 7/22/2007 05:10:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

isn't that wilco's version of big star's thirteen?

i heart big star so much.

At 7/23/2007 09:23:00 AM, Blogger gizmorox said...

You're so awesome. What a neat list of things.

Also - 9/8/07 is a Saturday. A SATURDAY, BETH!! Not a Tuesday! I may actually be able to go up and see The National! I'll keep you posted :)

At 7/23/2007 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Do you have Jann Arden's newest which is all covers? It's fabulousa nd she has an excellent voice. (Canadian too!)

Some covers I hate because they do no justice to the original.
kd lang's cover of leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is better than he can sing it though!!

I hate that cover of Big Yellow Taxi! Joni does it best!

At 7/23/2007 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

There was a period in the mid 1990s where Sonic Youth was on every single tribute album imaginable.

At 7/23/2007 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Great Scott!!! I think you need to sue the New York Post. They stole your idea for the cover songs.


At 7/23/2007 07:40:00 PM, Blogger New and Used Records said...

I didn't have any of these ... not even the REM, Decemberists or Twilight Singers! Thanks much.


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