Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Allen Klein - the worst man in the history of music

I have to tell this quick story about Allen Klein.  Allen Klein was a monster.  Just a piece of shit.  He is the guy who broke up the Beatles, and stole the entire Rolling Stone’s catalogue.
I am sure there are many volumes of books dedicated to his impact on music.  I imagine he even has 1 or 2 defenders.  We are not one of them.

Here is a single Allen Klein story that, to me, perfectly exemplifies what a steaming turd of humanity this guy was.

In 1971, after the Beatles break up, George Harrison releases ‘All Things Must Pass’.  On it is the great song ‘My Sweet Lord’.  Turns out that the song sounds a lot like ‘He’s so fine’.  So much so that the folks who own ‘he’s so fine’ sure thought so.  So, they sued Harrison, and his manager, Allen Klein.  We aren’t here to even talk about if the song was stolen.  We are here to talk about how Allen Klein handled it.  To simplify and make easily interesting an insanely complicated legal battle, I am going to use sweeping generalities.  Just want to warn you, this won’t be a legal brief.
Ok, you can look at this mashup.

So, this guy sues Harrison for stealing his song.  Allen Klein is George’s manager (you can thank John Lennon for getting Klein the door), and he has a really great idea.  Klein’s approach is “since we are richer than god, why fight this?  It would be cheaper for us to just buy the song.  In fact, it would be cheaper for us to buy the entire company that owns this song.”

I think that is a great idea. It’s resourceful, and a creative solution to a creative problem.
During these negotiations, Klein is working with the publishing arm of the Chiffon’s song.  This is where it gets super, duper, horrible.  Behind George’s back, Klein goes ahead and buys the catalogue that owns that song.  Problem solved, right?  No.  He fucking turns around and sues George for plagiarizing (what is now, technically) his song.  Klein also knows how much George is worth, so he quadruples the damages he wants… since he has seen the Beatle’s money ledgers

Also terrible is this dragged out for over 20 years.  I can only hope and assume if that happened here, dude would be disbarred.

To this day, I still can’t believe anyone could do that.  Any discussion about Klein being an advocate for the musicians, or a pioneer of artistic protection… it is all invalidated by this story.  I am an atheist, and an aspiring Buddhist.  My point being, I do not believe in heaven or hell (neither did George).  I can tell you this, though, Allen Klein is in hell.

What’s your worst mondegreen?

I'll tell you mine.  Now, these aren't just mondegreens... these are deeply embarrassing and retroactively confusing mondegreens.

I am not talking just mishearing a lyric in an innocuous way... I am talking about samsara through juice fires!

Oh, a mondegreen is a misheard lyric.

Famous ones are ‘Ain’t no woman like the one eyed gott’ (correct lyric, ‘ain’t no woman like the one I got’), or ‘excuse me while I kiss this guy’ (correct lyric, ‘excuse me while I kiss the sky’)
Those weren’t mine, though.  The first one is a doozy, for sure!  Here are a couple I recently discovered were wrong after singing for 30 years.

One man come, he a juicy fire, one man to overcome!  This is U2, Pride in the Name of Love.  Do you know what a juicy fire is?  I sure don’t, but I swear that is what he was saying, but that was what I heard… I swear.  Turns out he was actually saying “one man come, he to justify… one man to overcome”.   Well, that does make more sense.  Listen to the song, though… and tell me you don’t hear ‘juicy fire’.  Well, you will now!

There’snothing that a million men on mars could ever do!  This is the great song from Toto (with an ever better cover than the original here).  Turns out he was saying “there’s nothing that a million men or more could ever do!”  hmm.  Right again… that does make more sense.

Every pool all aches.  I don’t have to tell you that every pool hall aches.  Problem is, that isn’t a Tom Waits lyric.  If it was, it wouldn’t be a mondegreen.  This was Sting singing in ‘every breath you take’.  Heads up, that song has NOTHING to do with pool halls, or candlesticks.  What Sting meant to say was ‘how my poor heart aches’.  That does make more sense… but really my lyric was better.  Artier!  Once again, listen to the original and tell me you don’t hear about pool halls.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Cover your Ass - songs better than the originals


I know this is a sacred topic to most music snobs. Let’s face it, plenty of times, the cover is better than the original Like ANY time that ANY band did ANY song that was a Lou Reed song. I thought about this piece as an idea on the way home. Without doing any research, I wrote down several that came to mind.

Then, and only then, did I consult the interwebs. What I found online were obvious, and so a little disappointing. What I think the internet lists generally chose were versions that were more successful. Me & Bobby McGee is the perfect example of this. Janis KILLS that song! It truly became her signature song. It is super tragic that it didn’t come out until a week after she died. 

 Still, it will always be her song. Is it better? It’s not better than this bootleg version I have that I can’t find online. It’s just Kristofferson and an acoustic. It is more spoken work, and SO sparse… it really tells a more powerful tale.

I did find this excellent demo from Janis, though. No production or overdubs… just her catching where to lay the syllables against the chord changes. It’s pretty sweet.
Another song that tops the list is Hendrix’ over of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ Also, it is great. Interestingly, it ws Hendrix ONLY hit. Did you know that? He didn’t break through with Foxy Lady, or Purple Haze. Sure, the freaks found him that way… but the way America discovered him was covering Dylan.

Africa - Toto/Mike Masse

Local Colorado guy, plays bars and does covers (just like my stupid band). Except, this guy is incredible. Watch this video below. Dude has 8 million hits! We are actually going to see him finally play live at Lodo’s in Highlands Ranch this weekend (Sept 2016)

Btw, since we are talking about this song… this is pretty great. It’s Dax Shepard and his wicked hot and talented wife making their own video for the song. It’s dumb. Really, really dumb. But… they get it. It’s a great watch. Between these two clips (both over 8 million), Toto is cool again.

Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac/Santana
I know you don’t know this is a cover. It wasn’t a Santana song, but Fleetwood Mac. Now, we are not talking about the Fleetwood Mac you know, run by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. No, this was WAY before then when they were a British Blues band. Here are both –

Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green version) 1970 

 There is nothing wrong with that version. In fact, it probably could have been the famous version except for Peter. See, Peter Green was a genius, and also nuts. Nuts. Not nuts in a romantic way… I mean nuts in a way that he literally disappeared for 30 years. The only thing to compare it to is Syd Barrett and the whole Pink Floyd mess.
Here is the Santana version (1971).

 Oh, recognize any of these guys? You should. They all quit Santana’s band to form Journey. To me, it is superior because I feel it really found its legs in the latin inspired groove that left like it should have been there all 

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen/Bruce Springsteen
God, I love this song. I am honestly not much of a Bruce fan. I don’t think I have a single CD of his. Yet, I regard this song as probably the best rock song ever written. Here is that song, in all of it’s 1977 glory.

Now, how can I put this on the cover list? First off, it’s not a cover. Second, the song is absolutely fucking perfect. On every level. Well, this guy Bruce Springsteen does a pretty good cover. Really, I count this version below as a cover because it is so stunningly different and beautiful. Also, I think it took balls of steel for Bruce to take his biggest hit and tear it apart. This newer version is an elegy of sorts. The original version is about being young and perfect and getting ready to breakout and have all the opportunities in the world.

This version below, though, is a resignation. Note, fast forward to the 4 minute mark. Bruce just goes full Bruce on this version. Not that 'America is #1 'Bruce... but this telling is from the guy who wrote the line 'end up like a dog that's been kicked too much'.

Am I Evil – Diamond Head/ Metallica

 To me, there just is no discussion. There is Metallica’s version. That is it. So, here is the original, and I think it mostly sucks.

While the guitar riff rocks perfectly cromulently… this singer guy is full glam. There nothing evil here at all. Below is Metallica's take. This song couldn't possibly be more Metallica than it is

Let me put this in the parlance that my 16 year old self would understand it. He would say the original was simply ‘gay’. Now this one, below… this is just the sound of pure fucking evil. When my parents found my Ozzy records and growing my hair out… they worried. They thought this (song above) was what I was listening to. Kinda funny how incredibly tame Ozzy compared to this. The only subversion in Ozzy’s records is serious and thoughtful Christianity. Below the full proper evil version from Metallica.

 Rusty Cage – Johnny Cage/Soundgarden 

 There is nothing wrong with the original. It’s great. However, Rick Rubin and Johnny Cage change the meaning of every single word with their new telling… yet they don’t touch a word. Here is the original. Sadly, it does not feature Chris Cornell singing. Very very few Soundgarden songs show him singing. Instead, in Soundgarden, he only screamed. anyways here, here is the original

See, told you. Why even have lyrics. It is just him screaming for 15 years in Soundgarden. YET… he can sing his dick off. Listen to this secret acoustic outtake of ‘Like Suicide’ When I heard this, I was frustrated. It was like the first time I heard him to Seasons. I thought ‘wait, he can sing? He could sing he whole time? Why the hell did he never even try until he was ‘retired’.

 Sorry, back to my point. Rick Rubin (who to me deserves as much credit as Johnny Cash here) and just let’s Johnny go all Johnny Cash on it. This was towards the end of Johnny’s life. I believe June had already passed… and you can hear Johnny dying a little in every verse. Luckily for us, Cash knew his time was very limited. So, he and Rubin spent his last years together just recording at a gonzo pace. Here this. Feel this.

And if that doesn’t give you feelings… watch this video. I assume this was made post Johnnys’ passing. It is fucking beautiful and perfect on every level. This may be the beautiful and creepy and perfect video ever made. Though this has nothing to do with covers, it is a good place to leave you for the day