Author Topic: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"  (Read 1314 times)

Soup Dogg

  • oompah loompah stick it up yer jumpah
"Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« on: January 07, 2019, 12:11:54 AM »
"Across the Universe" is a great song, but there are no great versions of it.


The Let it Be version lives and dies by Phil Spector's sword. The original version hints at what a great song it could be, and in parts Spector's production works. The echoey effect on the vocal track is perfect, but Spector can't quite manage gentle verse/big chorus. He makes everything too big, and drowns out what should be a glorious ecstatic chorus  with a wall of sound which is much better suited to other Lennon songs (Instant Karma).

The Bowie version captures a soulfulness which is totally absent in the Get Back recordings. He tries to rescue a decent song from it- and does- but in jettisoning the "Jai guru deva om" he ends up missing the beating heart of the tune.

Rufus Wainwright takes it too far in the other direction- it's not a singer songwriter tune, the ambitions are too big. And so the "Jai guru deva om" sounds false coming out of his mouth, and doesn't fit in with the rest of what's going on.

And so there must be other songs like this, near perfect tunes that have never had their rightful incarnation. Hit me with 'em, ya cunts.

Maurice Yeatman

  • His Reverence won't like it
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 12:31:38 AM »
I love Bill Frisell's version, for what it's worth, but it's an instrumental so probably not what you had in mind.

On with the thread.

Brundle-Fly

  • I'm so Avant-garden variety
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2019, 12:44:08 AM »
Obvious link alert.

Laibach do a great version of ATU.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTQcJx7xqAc

Soup Dogg

  • oompah loompah stick it up yer jumpah
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2019, 12:56:04 AM »
Okay, a couple of things:

I'd not heard the Bill Frisell version before and it's absolutley gorgeous, and if it had lyrics would have made this thread redundant. But the song does have words, and beautiful words they are too, so I think Bill is cowering away from the obvious problem there. So again, another beautiful version of a beautiful song, but still not what should be the version.

To be honest, I'd never been into Laibach until they featured very prominently in a cold-war pop-culture exhibit in Madrid while I was living there last year. Their version is probably the best I've heard, but the enormous choir voices hit the same wall as the original Spector version: it's a big song, but not big enough for what they give it. It's the ultimate small big song, which is why it's so impossible. Anyway, this ain't an Across the Universe thread- hit me with your non-Beatles bullshit

Rich Uncle Skeleton

  • Oh it's a whole flock of detectives.
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2019, 02:14:32 AM »
The Let It Be...Naked version is perfect to me.

Nowhere Man

  • I seek the buildings blazing with moonlight
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2019, 03:58:57 AM »
Across The Universe Take 6 as released on the 50th anniversary White Album box is about as perfect as you can get it, just John's voice and his guitar, lovely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-kDjCi5DP4

famethrowa

  • mere rhetorical frippery
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2019, 04:07:57 AM »
I'm thinking of "Could It be Magic" by our Barry Manilow here.. it's a pretty good song with hints of real emotional depth and the Chopin influence gives it some artyness, but Barry just isn't a good enough singer to pull off the bigger choruses. There's been a few versions but they're pure cheese and have none of the 70's dark corners. Could it be better?

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2019, 02:50:33 PM »
I always thought Revolution by The Beatles. I hate the sound of the cheap messy guitars on the version on the B-Side of Hey Jude. It also has the pathetic scream at the start and Lennon's vocals are too close. All the instruments just never gel together. I would've much preferred it if they mixed it in a similar way to something like 'Helter Skelter'.

The White Album version (Revolution 1) is just way too slow and sounds like they just can't be fucked.

I would also agree that the Let It Be...Naked version of ATU is just perfection.

daf

  • Laminated with 'Clarifoil'
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2019, 03:37:57 PM »
My favourite is the slightly different version done for TV (Dave Frost?) here - with a live Lennon vocal & including bonus Paul & George "shoo-bee-doo-wop" bee-vees.

mrfridge

  • Pissing excellence for over 3 decades
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2019, 04:31:30 PM »
The Fiona Apple version is lovely.

https://youtu.be/UXE1C--WezU

daf

  • Laminated with 'Clarifoil'
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2019, 08:36:41 PM »
Oh god yes - I love that film too (Pleasantville)

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 09:35:09 AM »

And so there must be other songs like this, near perfect tunes that have never had their rightful incarnation. Hit me with 'em, ya cunts.

Bowie's Loving the Alien.

Fine Young Cannibals' I'm Not the Man I used to Be.


Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 10:53:13 AM »
I know it's very much a product of its time, but I always thought Aztec Camera's "Walk Out To Winter" deserved a better performance. It's a great pop song, melodically and structurally, and the jangly jazz guitar is spot on, but those awful 80s synth drums and general production don't do it any favours. I'm not much of a fan of Roddy Frame's drab vocals either.

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 04:08:36 PM »
Breaking Glass by David Bowie should be an eight minute dancefloor stomper but it fucks off after less than two

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2019, 02:27:26 AM »
I would like there to be a version of 'I'll Be Your Mirror' without Nico singing on it. The one on Live 1969 is fine and quite affecting, but I'd like to hear a studio version. It's such a beautiful gentle love song, but Nico's singing doesn't express the warmth it needs.

Flash Gordon's Ape is overwhelmed by the beefheart ego saxophone, but you just have to turn off one speaker to get rid of the sax and hear what an extraordinary creation it is, plus there's a bootleg version with no sax, so I suppose that doesn't count and I don't know why I'm mentioning it.

The whole of Electric Ladyland would have been better if Hendrix had done it in one take or two instead of fifty or whatever it was. At least that's what one of the engineers said and I believe him.

famethrowa

  • mere rhetorical frippery
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2019, 05:18:34 AM »
I say Shipbuilding. Wyatt's version sounds like it's falling down the stairs, Costello's is smooth jazz, Suede's is getting hysterical.... the song itself is beyond compare but I've never heard a satisfying take.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2019, 05:49:34 AM »
It's been mentioned somewhere on this board recently, but Moonlight Shadow is a great song that sounds like total shit. The melody is great and the guitar solo is theoretically good, but the lyrics are garbage and the whole thing just feels wrong. I don't know enough about music theory to identify exactly why something that's clearly almost brilliant comes off as totally naff in the end, but there's just something about it. Nobody has, yet, made a cover version that really brings the song out to what it obviously can and should be.

And, speaking of discussions we've already had, I think I've said before on here that Kashmir is one of the few Led Zep songs that doesn't cause me to immediately throw up and scramble to switch it off, but there don't seem to be any good versions of it. The lyrics are utterly unsalvageable, but forget them - I've never heard the riff played as heavy as it should be, and nobody's ever given the vocals the weird dreamlike quality they clearly should have.

sardines

  • give a man a horse
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2019, 07:53:24 AM »
'You Set The Scene' by Love is one of my favourite songs ever but...

Starting with the original album version, there is some distortion on Arthur's voice which doesn't bother me too much. However  the'time time time..' ending should feel definitive  but instead has some unnecessary panning and fades out far too quickly.

The mono mix fixes some of these issues but the guitar is too forward in the mix giving the song   an odd chugging feeling.

From the several live versions I've heard, Arthur's delivery of the second part is sometimes hurried meaning the lines don't get the space they need + of course they are often without strings.

The Forever Changes live show is good but it is a relatively staid performance. Complete Forever Changes, a Glastonbury live recording, absolutely buzzes with energy and pathos and is probably my favourite version, coming closest to my memory of seeing him live where the 'time time time...' part seemed to go on for an eternity while the soulful motherfucker raised his sunglasses and grinned like a bastard.

pigamus

  • Sex, death, mayonnaise.
Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2019, 07:56:27 AM »
About 217 different Bob Dylan songs.

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2019, 07:51:40 PM »
Breaking Glass by David Bowie should be an eight minute dancefloor stomper but it fucks off after less than two

Completely. The direction the guitar starts to take just before the song fades out is fucking brilliant and I’m always genuinely pissed off whenever I hear it that it’s over so quickly. Still, it might be a good thing, always leave them wanting more and all that. It might have ended up like Tin Machine and I’d have hated him for it.

Re: "Great" Songs Never Made "Great"
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2019, 08:12:16 PM »
I always thought Revolution by The Beatles. I hate the sound of the cheap messy guitars on the version on the B-Side of Hey Jude. It also has the pathetic scream at the start and Lennon's vocals are too close. All the instruments just never gel together. I would've much preferred it if they mixed it in a similar way to something like 'Helter Skelter'.

The White Album version (Revolution 1) is just way too slow and sounds like they just can't be fucked.

I would also agree that the Let It Be...Naked version of ATU is just perfection.

Always loved the B-side version myself, I think its actually more successful than Helter Skelter at sounding genuinely grungy and indeed one of the very few(maybe only?) Beatles tracks that pulls that off for me.