Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bird and the Bee; Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates


Anytime someone utters the phrase “cover song” or “cover version,” most music aficionados cringe and scoff. The idea of someone covering a “classic” usually ends up with a song temporarily being ruined by an artist. One of my favorite all-time songs is “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister and every cover version I have ever heard has been beyond awful.

Luckily, there are plenty of songs that are arguably just as good, if not, better than the original like Guns N’ Roses’ version of “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney), Alien Ant Farm’s version of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” and Van Halen’s version of The Kinks’ classic “You Really Got Me.” Then there are covers that became signature songs for artists who made them immensely famous like Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” (Bob Dylan), Santana’s interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman,” and Quiet Riot’s cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize.” These songs have become staples for the respective artists and are arguably their best known songs.

The Blue Brothers made a career transitioning from a fictional band on Saturday Night Live to actually touring. They only released covers songs with three well-received albums Briefcase Full of Blues, Made in America and The Blues Brothers soundtrack. Earlier this year, Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was revived because of its inclusion in the horror film Insidious (One of the best horror films in years), but what most people don’t realize it too was a hit cover song.

I bring up all these examples because cover songs have been a huge part of the music industry for over a half century. Even Elvis jumpstarted his career by covering Blues songs and proves there is nothing wrong with it. If it was good enough for The King, why not cover a great song?

Earlier this year I was hanging out with my friend Amy and we had just seen a Lykke Li concert at Amoeba when we started talking about The Bird and The Bee. Comprised of Inara George (vocals) and Greg Kurstin (bass, drums, programming and keyboards), The Bird and The Bee is an indie/alternative duo best known for their hit song “Fucking Boyfriend,” which reached #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart in late 2006. Amy mentioned how she saw The Bird and The Bee perform at the El Rey and John Oates performed with them.

What? Why am I only now hearing about this? I was immediately disappointed because I originally planned on attending that very same concert, but had to bail last minute due to school commitments. Fortunately, The Bird and The Bee released an entire album dedicated to Hall & Oates called Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates.

Now I don’t know if it was because “Rich Girl” is one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs, the fact I had seen She’s Out Of My League way too much lately (TJ Miller’s character is part of a Hall & Oates tribute band) or the fact one of my favorite indie bands recorded an entire album dedicated to one of the coolest duos ever, I was instantly sold. Immediately once you start the album, all Hall & Oates’ fans will sing along and even casual music fans will be like, “I so know this song.” Trust me I have had many random friends in my car blurt it out…multiple times.

Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates kicks off with “Heard It On The Radio” and it only gets better with each subsequent track. George’s sweet, sensual voice compliments the slow pop-rock and soulful sounds of these classic Hall & Oates songs.

The album contains five #1 Billboard HOT 100 hits including “I Can’t Go For That,” “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Maneater” and “Private Eyes.” My absolute favorite of all these is “Rich Girl” and I have already ruined one CD because of how amazing this version is compared to the original. Now I’m not saying all the songs are better than the originals, but they definitely challenge the originals.

The album also contains “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” and “One on One.” If you’re looking for a great album that somehow slipped underneath your radar than Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates is something you need to consider purchasing. I can’t even remember an album that I have listened to more this year than this. All I have to say is The Bird and The Bee are absolutely addicting and this is an album worth discovering. No matter what your mood is when you begin this album, by the end of it you will have a gigantic smile and you couldn’t ask for anything more.

--Brownstone



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