Sep 052015

Do it again.

Do it again.

Do you ever listen to a song and think, “Mmm, I wish they could have done that part over.” It could be a particular verse or solo or middle eight, as is the case whenever I listen to an old favorite I spun on this week’s Saturday Night Shut-In, XTC‘s “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages.” I still love that song, but I used to love everything about it, even the bridge—so much so, in fact, that leaned on it as a model for quickly exiting a tricky bridge on a few of my own songs. I don’t remember exactly when I started to wish for a do-over on that bridge, but at some point in recent years the way it ends—”…and it’s breaking my back!”—started to feel a bit forced, as if my man Andy Partridge was laying heavy on that closing line to shut the door on any feeling the listener may have of him having abruptly exited that exciting, unexpected part of the song. (Andy, if you one day Google yourself in this piece and start getting worked up about this pathetic cretin who is trying to read your thoughts, etc, please know that I love your body of work, including this song, which is one of my favorite songs on the planet. This is a Rock Town Hall discussion, where we allow ourselves to pick apart even our most beloved songs and artists.)

Your rock ‘n roll do-over may be an entire album or stylistic shift, a Look, whatever, but keep it to subjects you really care about. For instance, unless you’re a die-hard Styx fan, some snarky comment about “Mr. Roboto” won’t fly. I’ll ask YOU for a do-over.

Let’s do it again, shall we?


  16 Responses to “Rock ‘n Roll Do-overs”

  1. misterioso

    Good Lord, practically have a whole shelf’s worth of Dylan do-overs, since almost everything he’s done since Blood on the Tracks (and thanks to the Another Self-Portrait bootleg series collection, we can roll back the clock another few years) has been shown, after the fact due to bootlegs of the official or unofficial variety, to have been messed up by someone (i.e., Dylan himself) in the assembling. Thus, the omission of “Up to Me” from Blood on the Tracks or “Abandoned Love” from Desire. But ok, those are strong records anyway. But once you get to the 80s there’s a whole lot less of a margin for error, and leaving a bunch of great songs off Shot of Love and Infidels was deadly. Then, again, very strong records like Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind lost songs that should have been included that would have made them even better. It’s a disease with Dylan.

    I’d want a do-over for his whole mid-80s Empire Burlesque look as well, but that’s a different matter.

  2. 2000 Man

    I’d like to do over The Stones’ Dirty Work album. The drum sound is atrocious, but if you can look pas that (which is really hard) there’s some pretty good songs on it. I’d like Mick to go re-do a lot of the vocals and in the case of something like Hold Back I want completely new lyrics. That shit about Stalin, Roosevelt and George Washington is stupid, and forced to fit into the song. It’s actually uncomfortable. Then switch the cover to a black and white picture. People would like it a lot more.

  3. BigSteve

    The Magic Band is supposed to have HATED the slow tempos on The Spotlight Kid (see especially the title track). Don kept making them go slower and could not be swayed. I’d love to hear those songs at the tempos the band wanted. The two ‘Tragic Band’ albums (Unconditionally Guaranteed and Moonbeams & Bluejeans) are probably beyond a do-over and should just be erased from history.

  4. BigSteve

    Unlike a lot of people here I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan, but I wish he has never discovered Woody Guthrie or whoever else inspired him to start using that hayseed accent. If only he could do over the post-peak part of his career without that stylistic shift, maybe further explore the garage/Spector/girl group influences of his late 70s work, I’d listen to his later albums more.

  5. That is a slow album! It doesn’t bother me, but maybe that’s part of the reason I play Clear Spot, the album I think of as its brother, 3 times as often.

  6. cliff sovinsanity

    This may be low hanging fruit, but I wish someone had stepped in during the recording of the Hollies “Carrie-Anne” and said to the producer instead of trying to be different by using a steel drum during the solo let’s just play an 8 note guitar solo.
    Also, I like the Tom Petty song Jammin’ Me just fine except for the dated shout downs of Joe Piscopo and Vannessa Redgrave. Surely, Petty or Dylan could have come up something a little more clever.

  7. BigSteve, I’m with you on this. I, too, am an unabashed Bruce fan but that accent and forced style of singing really hurt him. I have to wonder was it a conscious decision or the result of some vocal cord problems. As far as the garage/Spector/girl group aspect, I’d love to hear an album’s worth of that instead of the themes that populate his stuff from the last 20 years.

    Darlene Love has a new album coming September 18 – – produced by Miami Steve. Bruce contributes two songs which, not knowing a thing about them, I’ll bet I will like better than most anything he’s done in the last two decades. Ditto Elvis Costello’s two contributions. And if Miami Steve’s three songs harken back to his pre-political efforts it will be one great album.

  8. I never knew that about Spotlight Kid. That was the first Beefheart album I could really get into and was my gateway to finally appreciating Decals and TMR.

    So I love that album and don’t feel the need for a do-over. But I’d love to hear one.

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    I hate to point another finger at Andy Partridge, but I think his work on the Lilac Time album, “& Love For All” needs to re-do. The Lilac Time’s earlier work was gentle and folky; Mr. Partridge added too much spikiness that I don’t think suited their music. Do Over!

  10. cherguevara

    Grrr! Blarg. Bah. BLEH!

    Well dag.

    I do not have an issue with the bridge to Love on a Farmboy’s Wages. It is a scenic shift, for sure – not as radical as, for example, Lionel Richie’s “Say You Say Me” (a bridge I never understood, and yes, it is asinie to compare those two songs). There is a whole world in that bridge, its complexity contrasts nicely with the pastoral nature of the rest of the song. I sure wish I could play that freaking bridge, because I can hack my way through the rest of that tune but then it all falls apart for me there. But I’m a crap guitar player.


    I disagree about the Lilac Time album. I have a friend who is a huge fan of Stephen Duffy and the Lilac Time. He has pushed a lot of that music on me. I generally find it lacking bite but also lacking the engaging quality that I hear in, say, Curt Boettcher’s stuff with Millennium or Ballroom. I think “& Love For All” is one of the more palatable of Duffy’s albums, it has a more expansive scope and is a pretty solid listen from top to bottom. The Music in Colours album has some moments for me, but the the only one I could recommend to this crowd is “I Love My Friends,” which has the drummer from Velvet Crush on it, and is his most muscular production. I’ll add that going to see Stephen Duffy at the Fez was the first time I went out in Manhattan and did anything social after 9/11, so that was a powerful moment in my memory.

    But to toss in a few opinions on the subject at hand… One song I like is “Log Cabin Fever” by Split Enz – until the end. Then it hits a coda that I always found dorky:

    Another one that comes to mind is “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire. I don’t know how many people are on the fence with this band – I suspect you love them or you find them irritating. And I know this song is a fan favorite and I understand why – until the end. About four minutes in, the song changes to this “you can’t hurry love” feel, that never seems right to me.

    Songus interruptus!

    And I’ll toss in that Led Zep’s “Ramble On” falls apart for me 3/4 of the way through, when the lyrics turn into Lord of the Rings crap about Gollum and Mordor. How can you take that seriously? But then, I lose interest in most LZ tunes after the first two minutes.

    Here’s a funny do-over, have you heard this version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Ceclia” by the Vamps?
    What a worthless piece of shit! They kept the chorus of the song and replaced the versus with the most simpleminded, lazy-ass bullshit. There is nothing redeeming about what they did here, and to me, it is pure hubris. I’ve heard my 7 year old make up better songs about poop and minecraft. I was shopping alone in a store when I first heard it and it drove me to curse out loud to myself like a freak. I am offended by this, don’t know why Paul Simon let it happen. So un-do the do-over here.

    I have vented.

  11. misterioso

    This would be a start. But unfortunately I think the do-over needed was Dirty Work for them to say “lads, what we need here are new songs.” I think only a couple of songs are salvageable on that crapfest. I used to think Dylan’s Empire Burlesque (not coincidentally, from the same ungodly era) could be salvaged with some new production here, a better vocal there; but really, apart from maybe 3 or 4 songs, the problems are deeply embedded in every aspect of the record. The bad covers and shitty production on both records are the easiest problems to pick up on but I think in both cases you have artists who lost sight of what they were all about, the giants of an earlier period sweating hard trying to be “contemporary,” and looking like fools.

  12. misterioso

    The “Carrie Anne” steel drum solo is so off the wall that it works for me (or I’m used to it). But in the same vein, whenever I hear Boyce and Hart’s (great) “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” I wince a little at the onset of the trumpet solo.

  13. Cher, I’m SO sorry for not seeing this post in the holding spot where posts with too many links appear for approval or not! I’ll have to catch up on these songs you pointed out. I’m glad you tune into what I’m saying, even if we disagree on the bridge in “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages” (not that I hate it – not at all – just that I wish it had a more graceful, seamless exit) and that Lord of the Rings part of “Ramble On,” my favorite Led Zeppelin song and a bit I had NO IDEA what Plant was going on about until I took our oldest son to see that first Lord of the Rings movie. I was sitting there during one of the stirring action scenes, and it hit me: “THAT’S what he’s going on about!” It was so ridiculous for a person who grew up not really liking Led Zeppelin until he turned 20 and not knowing anything about fantasy fiction/sci-fi except for having read The Hobbit and Dune when I was about 15 that I liked the song even more.

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    Good call on Arcade Fire. I loved that first album (although I wonder if I still would if I listened now). That said, I saw them once live and was pretty impressed, even if they are bombastic as hell. I didn’t get in to Suburbia or whatever that album was, and was somewhat switched off until that single, “Reflektor,” which appealed until I realized what a Bowie rip off (I mean homage) it is. The rest of the album was so so to me.

  15. I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61,” and I just realized it’s an amazing example of a song I’d like to call “do over!” on, specifically for the gimmicky whistle that crops up in the song a couple of times. I hate that thing. It’s so beneath Bob Dylan. It makes the song sound like something Sonny and Cher would have done. The entire mix of that song sucks, too. It’s too much Bob, too little music. Thankfully the Velvet Underground cranked up the music on a couple of throwaway songs of their’s that seem to be modeled on Dylan’s title track.

  16. misterioso

    I don’t necessarily agree, but you can enjoy a whistle-free alternate take on the Bootleg Series volume that functions as soundtrack to the No Direction Home documentary.

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