Wednesday, October 2, 2013

40 Year Itch : Waves of Nostalgia

In October of 1973 a surprising number of artists released albums containing  nothing but cover versions of songs. It was a way to pay homage to the artists who influenced them. First out among them was Bryan Ferry's solo debut These Foolish Things, released October 5, which contains covers from artists ranging from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Lesley Gore and The Four Tops. But it's his vamping cover of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A -Gonna Fall" that stands out.

On October 15th, The Band released Moondog Matinee, a collection of tunes from the late 50's and early 60's that the band played as Levon and the Hawks... including Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home", Lee Dorsey's "Holy Cow" and Elvis Presley's " Mystery Train". Of the album, singing drummer Levon Helm said in 2002:

"That was all we could do at the time. We couldn't get along—we all knew that fairness was a bunch of shit. We all knew we were getting screwed, so we couldn't sit down and create no more music. 'Up on Cripple Creek' and all that stuff was over—all that collaboration was over, and that type of song was all we could do."

[Out of Print]

As if "American Pie" wasn't enough of a tribute to Buddy Holly and the musicians of that era, Don McLean recorded Playing Favorites, an album of covers featuring two Buddy Holly tunes, "Everyday" and the little known B Side "Fool's Paradise". 

Although I thought "Let's Spend the Night Together" was the worst thing about Aladdin Sane, David Bowie didn't ask me. For Pin Ups, Bowie recorded a selection of his favorite songs from 1964-1967, minus anything by the Beatles or the Stones. Pin Ups held the #1 album spot in the UK for 5 weeks. So I guess he was right but , like bubblegum, Pin Ups loses its flavor after repeated chews.

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