Friday, January 2, 2009

Playlist: White singers, black songs (pt. 2)

Between this playlist and Sunday’s, I have reached a hasty conclusion:

When black artists cover a white rock song, they tend to approach it with a lot of sincerity. When white artists – especially alt-rockers – cover a black funk or soul tune, they often seem to be half-joking.

What’s up with that?

Still, these tracks can be entertaining.

1. “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” – Julian Coryell, Robin Danar

Julian Coryell (pictured above) is the son of jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. His reimagining of Michael Jackson’s monster hit was a collaboration with producer Robin Danar for the 2008 album “Altered States.”

2. “I Will Survive” – Cake

One year ago, I pointed you to a free download of a Barry White cover by the alt-rock band Cake. This track is even more tongue-in-cheeky than that one.

3. “Oh Girl” – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

I had never heard of the Bay Area punk-pop band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes before assembling this playlist. Their 2003 CD “Take a Break” also includes revved-up covers of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” “I’ll Be There,” “Hello” and more.

Matter fact, let me share another one from them. Here’s Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” I could do without the goofy bit at the end. Otherwise, it’s a righteous cover.

4. “Erotic City” – Arto Lindsay

Arto Lindsay is a longtime rock experimentalist beloved by the critics. Robert Christgau bestowed a rare A+ upon Lindsay’s 1996 album “Mundo Civilizado,” whence comes this Prince cover.

But even the presence of Bernie Worrell and Melvin Gibbs on this track won’t inspire me to spin it many more times.


Kellybelle said...

That version of Erotic City denuded my loins of passion. I like the version of Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, though.

I don't know if I'd say they lacked sincerity so much as I realized, I never really understood the words before.

daughterofthedream said...

these are...Interesting

Where's Marc Broussard? Or is he redundant at this point?

Anonymous said...

I find Me First ... highly amusing, especially for a cover band. Especially amusing to me are their versions of Eleanor Rigby & Uptown Girl.

Undercover Black Man said...

Daughter: I needed to know about Marc Broussard for Funky Whiteboy Appreciation Week. Anyway, thanks for pointing me to him.

Here's his cover of "Yes We Can Can."

bklyn6 said...

I kinda like the Erotic City cover. But I would---------------->

Re: When white artists – especially alt-rockers – cover a black funk or soul tune, they often seem to be half-joking.

What’s up with that?

Yeah, right? But, Jay-Z flipped the script on Oasis and covered "Wonderwall" in a mocking way. It was discussed in Slate: "Extraordinary Renditions: The problem of cross-genre covers."

Also I listened to a cool Soundcheck podcast on "Cross-genre covers" that piggy backed off the Slate article.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Well... they intellectualized the heck out of that one, didn't they?


But really, thanks for that, bklyn6. I now see that snarky covers have nothing particularly to do with race.

John B. said...

White singers, black songs, huh? Well, here's one for you:

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Cute.

Bellingham View said...

At the risk of being branded a one-artist dude, here's audio of a live cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross," by you-know-who along with Terence Trent D'Arby:

Anonymous said...

You know they have to be half- joking or sort of tongue in cheek otherwise they'd all be Michael Bolton

Andrea said...

There are indie rock and country versions of Snoop's gin and juice. I prefer the indie rock version (to the country version) but can't find it at the moment. Snoop trumps all.

bklyn6 said...

^Have you heard Richard Cheese's version? LOL