artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


08 September 2008

For much of popular music's history, a lot has been made about authenticity, which seems kind of silly to me, since, IMHO, it's at it's most interesting when it's bastardized. [More:]

So I give you Los Fabulosos Cadillacs live cover of 'The Guns Of Brixton,' an Argentine rock and roll band covering a British punk band imitating Jamaican reggae. I also give you the Wailers cover of 'Teenager In Love,' a group of Jamaican teenagers covering a song by a bunch of Italian-Americans from the Bronx who were inspired by Black American doo-wop. and Mongo Santamaria's cover of 'Feelin' Alright,' an Afro-Cuban percussionist covering a rock standard written by a Brit inspired by American Soul music. All three sound pretty fucking great. This shows among other things that musicians know a great song when they hear it, and how to put their own stamp on it.
Yeah, bastardization is what I love in music. I hate to think where we'd be without it. It really bugs me when people talk about "stealing cultures" or "ripping off black people". Are artists just supposed to live in a bubble and pretend they never heard the music they love, and just play "white people's music" or whatever? That's totally racist to me. Let's mutt the hell out of music until it's unrecognizable. Purity/authenticity in music is a myth.
posted by Hellbient 08 September | 12:26
For one of the more unexpected pieces of cultural miscegenation, I give you Dion (yes, that Dion) doing a song called "Daddy Rollin'"(a truly amazing record). The former sweet-voiced doo-wopper howling something that wouldn't sound out of place on a Led Zeppelin or Bob Dylan album.

He apparently recorded that when he was just out of detox. Richard Price told me about his first attempt at journalism, an interview with Dion published in Rolling Stone, where he reveals that when 'Abraham, Martin & John" hit #1, he was detoxing at Bellvue. In another interview Dion revealed that his first musical influence (which he heard due to the amazingly powerful AM transmitters of his time) was not the East Coast crooning of Sinatra, but Hank Williams. That influence definitely shows on this track.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 12:49
You could also add Santana's 'Black Magic Woman' to this list. A Chicano inspired by psychedic rock and Caribbean salsa covering a song by a British band inspired by American blues. Authenticity is more or less irrelevant at this stage of the game.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 13:04
Ach. Corrected first link in previous comment.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 13:05
I love covers. I know people who think covers are lazy and uncreative, but I think it's just as neat to put out your own take on an idea someone else wrote. Hell, nearly all of classical music is covers. But I also think it's lame to do a cover and not acknowledge the original in some way at some point, because covers are nothing without the original.

You can't create music in a vacuum. I mean, you probably could, but chances are people won't find it so easy to relate to.
posted by casarkos 08 September | 16:44
Hell, nearly all of classical music is covers.

and they rarely get as creative with the material as these guys do, mainly because the stodgy-ass classical tradition demands too much reverence.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 17:02
I like covers, too. I like when good bands cover songs by other bands that I like. That's all.

But I also think it's lame to do a cover and not acknowledge the original in some way at some point

posted by muddgirl 08 September | 17:03
Ummm, all of these songs do that.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 17:14
posted by muddgirl 08 September | 17:20
I'm not sure I understand what people mean by 'acknowledging the original.'
posted by box 08 September | 18:11
I can't think of any specific examples right now of "not acknowledging a source". If a big, famous band takes a song written and recorded by a smaller, often no-name or niche band in another genre, it seems unfair to just sort of make that song their own and only acknowledge the original in teeny tiny print in the liner notes. I think that's where a lot of the charges of "stealing cultures" comes from. Tiny Afrobeat Band A writes and records a song on a small label and struggles to eat. Big White Rock Band B buys rights to the song, promotes in on their Big Label, and rakes in the recognition and the dough. In my mind, there's a difference between this and covering a song as an homage, when the source is completely obvious; or playing a standard, where the interpretation of a song matters much more than the song itself.
posted by muddgirl 08 September | 18:29
I can't think of any specific examples right now of "not acknowledging a source".

I'm a huge Led Zep fan, but I'd definitely consider them guilty. Not in the 'stealing cultures' sense, love 'em or hate 'em, they definitely made the material their own, but it would have been nice if those blues singers got paid for those covers.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 18:40
It just makes those blues singers bluer, which ironically feeds the myth. And I'm jealous that you know on speaking terms Richard Price, you lucky metachatter you.
posted by alteredcarbon 08 September | 19:08
Thanks for the explanations, muddgirl and jonmc.
posted by box 08 September | 19:09
alteredcarbon, I only met him a few times, he's just a chatty guy.
posted by jonmc 08 September | 19:10
Yeah, I agree classical music is due for an overhaul. My sister just started grad school for violin, and she's been avoiding the standard showpieces because they're so overplayed and it's hard to develop your own take without running into everyone else's preconceptions of what the piece should sound like. But if you want a classical music career, it's still the showpieces that sell.

I'd still much rather go for an attempt at classical authenticity than someone sticking a techno beat behind it and calling that "creative".

One of the reasons I like Baroque-era classical music so much is that composers back then expected you to improvise much of the ornamentation in a piece, and sometimes they would just write in single bass notes and you would have to make up the entire bass part as you went along. Much more fun to play.
posted by casarkos 08 September | 19:33
I love covers that are "repurposed."

To whit, the Puppini Sisters doing a Kate Bush classic in a vastly more upbeat tone.
posted by danf 09 September | 12:49
Feeeets! OMG! || "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Tea For Two"