I’m a big fan of covers done well. Think, for example, of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” (originally recorded by George Benson) or Joe Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.” These are transcendent covers, done so well that they overshadow the original recordings.
Sadly, other times a cover simply has no reason to exist. And I’m not thinking simply about bad covers (like Mariah Carey butchering Journey’s “Open Arms, an indiscretion that I have yet to forgive). I’m thinking, instead, of those covers that sound all but indistinguishable from the originals. I call them “counterfeit” covers because if you heard them on the radio and weren’t listening carefully, you’d probably think you were listening to the original.
In the spirit of the season I offer an egregious Christmas-themed example. Consider the original “I believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake (which was included yesterday on my list of seven great Christmas songs) and then listen to the cover by Honeymoon Suite (a Canadian band that achieved modest success in their home country in the 1980s-90s). Even better, play them at the same time and you’ll get a fine reverb effect!
And then ask yourself, what was the point of that?