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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Cover Track #11

A friend had one of those slightly dodgy compilations that looked like it had been bought in a garage but in fact turned out to be really pretty good. It was called California Dreaming: The Cream of LA's Seventies Rock. Well, if that ain't a damn fine theme for a bunch of songs then I don't know what is.

Anyway, on it was Randy Newman's version of Mama Told Me Not To Come. Now apart from that Tom Jones cover from his Reload album (you know, the one with that brilliant Mousse T track), I didn't know much about this song but I must confess I wasn't aware of any relationship with Randy Newman.

And then I had one of those moments when I realist that I know less than nothing about music. In a way it was depressing. More than depressing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being a snob here and suggesting that anyone who doesn't know that Newman not only has a relationship with the song, but actually wrote Mama Told Me Not To Come is an idiot, but the fact is that I think I do know about music, and then something like this happens and it blows my ship out of the water and I feel like I'm back to square one.

Perhaps this a little odd, a guy with a music blog confessing that he feels like he knows bubkiss about music, but I also quite like that about the blog, and the monthly picks that I do - I suppose at the route of it is an acknowledgment of how much I don't know. Besides, why would I be showing you all these old songs I've only just discovered if I wanted you to believe that I knew everything about music already?

Okay, I've worked that through and feel better. Still with me? Probably not, but I'll press on regardless.

So, Mama Told Me Not To Come. As the title of this post will alert you, this is about a cover track and if Newman wrote the song, how can he have covered it? Pretty easily as it turns out. It was first recorded by Eric Burdon & The Animals in 1967, but written by Newman, and the version I've just happened upon is Newman's own recording from 1970.

Of course, I now need to go back to the Eric Burdon version, but what I do know is that the Newman version is pretty damn good - it's funky, and light and sounds kind of satirical, but that could just be Randy's voice. Anyway, if you can't find the California Rock compilation next time you're in a Shell station, track it down some other how and banish all memories of Tom Jones for good.

It occurs to me that all of that was pretty similar to how Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U worked out, with Sinead O'Connor doing it first before Prince sort of reclaimed it. Except, I think I'm right in saying that Prince did in fact record his first but with a side project and not just as himself. Oh yes, and apparently Something by The Beatles also worked out in a similar way with Joe Cocker, but I'd have to check my facts there. In fact, I may well have made that up. I'll get back to you.

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