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: I Want Candy
ORIGINAL: The Strangeloves (1965)
COVER: Bow Wow Wow (1982)
I first remember hearing this on my local college radio station when I was 10.
It was the summer of 1975. I was riding my bike to the pool and this jumped out of the transistor radio I had tied to my handlebars with a bungee cord.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM-BOOM!
That bass drum that starts the tune, the other drums roll in with the “Bo Diddley Beat,” and then the guitar lick that shreds a little. I was bipping and bopping while pedaling away in time -– so much fun!
Listening to this now, with adult ears, it’s still super fun, but the mix is a little cloudy. It needs more treble, but I’m shaking my hips to it while sitting in my chair.
An interesting choice for the new wave band, and they made it work. They didn’t change much except for the pronoun in the lyric — “I know a guy who’s tough but sweet” — from female to male. They also added a tambourine, louder bass, and some shouts at the end.
The production is a lot cleaner and brighter than the original, it feels a smidge faster and Annabella’s voice is bubbly and chirpy, like a cheerleader. But besides that, it’s not an earth-shattering cover.
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
This is a bit of a tough call, but it’s a tie. The original sounds dull, but I dig the deep drums and the horn section. The cover is brighter, but it doesn’t hit me like the deep groove of the original.
I like them both equally.
NOW YOU DECIDE!