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100 best covers: #55 Smashing Pumpkins “Never let me down again”

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I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Depeche Mode, especially of their period spanning the late 1980s to the late 1990s. In fact, last year on these very pages, I did a series of three posts on the iconic synth pop band, each one focusing on my top five tunes of their three very distinct eras: the prolific 1980s, the popular 1990s, and everything that followed, in a more experimental but still very relevant vein.

Near the end of that middle and very popular period in the 90s, a tribute album was put together by the artists and management team behind the industrial rock group, God Lives Underwater. Titled “For the masses”, it featured reimaginings by said band, but also by The Cure, Veruca Salt, Meat Beat Manifesto, and yes, Smashing Pumpkins. I bought the compilation on compact disc, of course, but was mostly disappointed with it and only ever listened to it a few times. And often those few times that it found itself in my player were because I had a hankering to listen to one of the disc’s meagre bright spots, that is, the track that we are focusing on today.

Smashing Pumpkins originally included their cover of “Never let me down again” as a B-side to the single, “Rocket”, released in 1994, just as they were breaking into the mainstream. The cover’s later inclusion on this compilation was the impetus for my buying the CD, after hearing it quite a bit on alternative radio. It is one of the few examples here that the covering artist really remakes the subject matter into their own thing. Where the original was robotic, dark, cold, and practically unemotional, Billy Corgan and gang inject a bit of warmth and yes, some increased sensuality to the proceedings. They take the convertible out for a ride in sunshine, still wearing sunglasses and cool, of course, the guitars are jangling and the drumming peppy, and Corgan is all snarls and whispery and just this side of screaming it out.

Yeah, it’s a great cover. Can I really say it’s better than Mode’s original synth pop evocation of drug euphoria? Nope.Do I think it’s still worth playing over and over? Oh yes.

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

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Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Rolling Stones “Hot rocks 1964-1971”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album Title: Early tracks
Year released: 1971
Year reissued: 2021
Details: RSD2021 drop 2 exclusive, 2 x translucent yellow vinyl, OBI strip, 2 8.5 x 11″ lithographs, limited to 7200 copies

The skinny: Yesterday, I posted about a Rolling Stones Record Store Day exclusive I was handed for free back in 2019 and today’s feature is a (definitely not free) exclusive that I purchased on this year’s second drop a couple of weeks ago. “Hot rocks 1964-1971” was a compilation that was released 50 years ago and was my own introduction to some of the band’s great early work. I bought a copy of it on cassette with my own money as a teenager because I recognized a few of the song titles from listening to oldies radio while riding in the family car with my parents. Well, after years of listening to this cassette, almost to the point of wearing it out, I knew all of these tracks intimately. I’m pretty sure I still have the cassette in the basement somewhere but with nothing to play it on, adding the record to my vinyl collection became something of a mission for me. I had seen it in shops before but had passed it over and then, regretted doing so. When I saw it announced as an RSD exclusive this year, it became my only target. I won’t lie, it wasn’t cheap. But the colour is lovely, the pressing is sweet, and the lithograph reproductions are a nice touch. And oh yeah, an OBI strip!

Standout track: “Sympathy for the devil”

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Rolling Stones “Early tracks”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album Title: Early tracks
Year released: 2019
Details: Black vinyl, RSD2019 exclusive, available for free at certain stores

The skinny: Brace yourselves. I’m kicking off a two-part Vinyl Love weekend, both posts showcasing a couple of Rolling Stones items obtained on two separate Record Store Days. Return to Analogue pressed this disc specifically for Canadian independent stores in 2019 and it was made available for free at select locations on Record Store Day that year. It just so happened that one of these stores was Ottawa’s The Record Centre and because I was one of the first handful of customers to make a purchase, I went home with this record. “Early tracks” is a compilation of tunes from some of The Rolling Stones’ earliest recordings, all twelve songs from 1964. Many of these are actually covers of R&B standards, including the only one of these recordings that I had heard before: “Time is on my side”. It is an album that I likely wouldn’t have put down money for but for free, I definitely didn’t refuse it.

Standout track: “Time is on my side”