Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rock 'n Roll is Here To Stay:
Mellencamp, Madonna, and the Philly Soul of Gamble and Huff


A small but select group of big names in the music world will be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this Monday. I've got a Single Song Sunday feature on oft-covered fellow inductee Leonard Cohen scheduled for Sunday, and I couldn't find any folk covers of the theme to Hawaii 5-0, but to whet your appetite a bit, here's a few choice covers of and from three other artists who will be strutting their way across the stage to get their due.



As songwriters and producers, Philadelphia soul pioneers Gamble and Huff had their fingers in the pies of thousands of songs; separately and together they've made 170 gold and platinum records, and you know a bunch of them, including the theme to Soul Train. They're also one of the few major players known for celebrating the use of their music for remixes and as hip-hop beats. Here's a few choice covercuts from their stable of songs. (Winehouse song removed, as it was not a cover after all.)



The roots rock of John (Cougar) Mellencamp transformed my childhood when a family friend who wrote music reviews for a national weekly gave me a copy of Scarecrow; up until that point, other than a few pop 45s, the only records I owned were Thriller and a used copy of the Bee Gees greatest hits. Today, every time I post a song, I'm paying it forward. Here's two surprisingly well-done Mellencamp tributes to his folk predecessors.



The wholesale reinvention which typifies Madonna, both as a musician and a cultural icon, is essentially anathema to the whole authenticity thing that practically defines the folkworld; as such, it's especially hard to find earnest acoustic covers of Madonna songs. Neither of the two male coverartists below can keep from laughing at the sheer audacity of trying to take their live covers seriously. All three versions are lighthearted romps worth hearing nonetheless.



We'll be back Sunday with a short but solid set of covers of my second favorite Leonard Cohen song. Hint: it's not Hallelujah.

23 comments:

Blair Hook said...

This is one of those songs that stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. Her voice, with these lyrics...like the perfect cover!

Thanks for reminding :-)

MichiganDAN said...

I have several Mellencamp discs in my collection, yet I had never heard either of these covers. Nice offering! A terrific but little known JM album was "Trouble No More" (2003). It features lots of vintage Americana songs and intruments. Check it out!

angie said...

hmm. "hey, that's no way to say goodbye" ?

Royal Cyclops said...

I beg to differ here. The Amy Winehouse song is not a cover of the one by Billy Paul anymore than it is a cover of Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man.

Besides all that, I really enjoy your efforts. Carry on.

boyhowdy said...

Amy Winehouse song removed -- it's no cover, and kudos to Royal Cyclops for calling me on it.

I was misled by two things: a wikipedia mention that the song was a cover, and another mention of winehouse having covered an unmentioned Gamble/Huff produced tune in a much more trustworthy source.

My conclusion: Amy covers a Gamble/Huff produced song, but "Me and Mr. Jones" isn't it.

Problematically, of course, most folks don't keep track of which producer was involved in making the songs they love, and we're talking about a catallog of thousands of songs. I'd have prefered to correct my error, but I don't have that kind of research time (days, at a minimum).

Still, if anyone knows which song Amy covers IS in fact from the Gamble/Huff production team catalog, I'd appreciate it.

Joel @ Postmodern Sounds said...

Austin punk-bluegrass group the Meat Purveyors has a pretty good Madonna cover medley of "Like a Virgin," "Lucky Star," and "Burning Up." It's on the same Bloodshot compilation, Making Singles, Drinking Doubles, that has the Rex Hobart "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

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