Original vs. Cover: “Right Now” – Mel Torme vs. The Creatures
I’ve been a DJ since the ‘70s. I’m also a bona fide music fanatic who gets a kick out of turning people on to stuff they’ve never heard before.
For a long time, when cassettes were king and “mixtapes” were all the rage, one of my favorite pastimes was to fill up one of those long-ass 120 minutes Maxells with original and cover songs, played back to back. I would really go out of my way to find obscure covers of very well-known songs, then I’d get my friends together and have listening parties where we would discuss the songs with each other for hours on end.
Yeah, it sounds incredibly nerdy. But damn, it was fun.
The other day, in a fit of nostalgia, I retrieved an old box of tapes that had taken up permanent residence in the back of my closet. So, who wants to play with me — Original vs. Cover?
SONG: Right Now
ORIGINAL: Mel Torme (1962)
COVER: The Creatures (1983)
This is a very Mel Torme-ish song of the era. It’s snappy-peppy from the jump, starting with a lot of staccato 16th notes on the drum rim and cymbal, kicky keys and Farfisa, and a bippy-boppy bassline.
His vocal is fun and the lyrics, which include a very ‘60s reference to going to outer space, are great, very Austin Powers. This is 2:12 of bubbly perfection, with brassy horn stabs, kooky backing vocals from a chorus of girls in bikinis, a swingin’ Farfisa bridge, and then a modulation that jumps up a key.
As I’m listening to this, I’m doing the Twist in my seat. His voice cracks during last line, “Come and give yourself to meeeeeeEEEEEEE!”
I dig it the most!
The Creatures are Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees. You may remember them as a sort of doom-and-gloom New Wave band — Robert Smith from the Cure was in the band for a bit — but I love them to this day. I’ve always felt that they were adventurous, and this cover proves it. The arrangement is very different from Mel’s original, but equally brilliant, if not more so.
It starts with Siouxsie’s multitracked vocal, “ba da da da bum bum bada dum, bada dum, da da da da dum.” Very Sammy Davis Jr. Then she sings the first line, which is backed with a fast conga drum, then launches into the rest of the song with a booming brass section, pounding bass drum and a little tambourine.
There are no keys or Farfisa at all, but there’s a xylophone. The original version has you on your toes, this cover has you stomping, and I love it!
So who does it better?
Siouxsie & Budgie have given Mel a run for his money, but I have to call it a draw. The Creatures made a stellar cover, the kind that changes the original enough to make it better than the original. In this case, the arrangement wasn’t a total change, like The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed,” for example. But what they did is awesome and makes you feel just as good as the original does.
Now you decide!