Jul 162021

For the first couple of years that I owned that Rascals album, I convinced myself that their version was actually cool. In subsequent years, the best I could say was that their version was “better.” Today, I heard the Benetar version, remembered how much I disliked it, then went back to the original to see how much better it actually was.

It’s better, but I still don’t like all the melodramatic builds. The Rascals could pull that Broadway stuff off in “How Can I Be Sure,” but I find it inappropriate coming out of such a meaty guitar hook during the verses. It’s like that fluffy major 7th break in The Nazz’s “Open My Eyes.”

I spent the rest of the day realizing that “You Better Run” is mediocre at the core.

Have you ever gotten excited to discover the original version of a song you didn’t care for in its popular format by someone else, only toe realize that the original, by an artist you love, is not much better?


  34 Responses to “Rotten to the Core (Well, Not Exactly Rotten)”

  1. Come on man! Todd Rundgren built a 50-year career on that “fluffy major 7th break.” Although he did top it with the shivery 9th chord which no one can deliver like he does.

    Pat Benatar was notable as one of the first female meathead rockers, but “Shadows of the Night” is a pretty epic bit of post-Wall of Sound pop. Of course it wasn’t a hit.

  2. I had no idea this is a cover! I guess my take away is that you just cant polish a turd.

  3. BigSteve

    I always dug the Rascals song. The combination of organ with the Kinks chording is irresistible, especially when Gene Cornish leans into the chords in between verses. Contrast this with Neil Geraldo’s pointless guitar wankery in those spots, not to mention the way they play the basic rhythm with exaggerated ‘tightness.’ I’m immune to Pat Benatar’s bad girl routine, so I think it’s no contest between the two versions.

    I’ll have to try to think of a good answer to the question the Mod posed.

  4. I’m more interested in why Pat didn’t move the horny needle more. I’ll start with the ultimate chauvinist line, she’d be prettier if she smiled more. She always seemed much more pissed off than she needed to be in every video or photo. It was like she wanted the Joan Jett persona when that just wasn’t her underlying personality.

    Also, you’re going to lose points if you go so all in on the Peter Pan look. It’s too confusing, are you a boy being a girl, a girl being a boy, are you some kind of pixie or fairy? She could have done better.

  5. On one of my first dates with Lady Gergely, we were driving to the movies when “You Better Run” blasted out of her car radio. I could tell by her reaction that she was a fan of the song. I was too, but five years or so ago, the Fonzie jacket was still doing a number on me, so I played it cool and limited my comments to safe nonsense, about the song being a cover, and that both the Rascals and Robert Plant’s mid sixties band Listen took a stab at it. I did not want to prolong the conversation. My Fonzie jacket was making me sweaty and uncomfortable. I rubbed my knee and said, “Yeah, this is a good one. Her and her band figured out how to get the most out of this thing.”

    Lady Gergely continued to drive, looking and driving a lot like Diane Keaton behind the wheel of her VW Beetle ala Annie Hall. She gave me a quick look and barked out, “Oh yeah. Crimes of Passion. Sang and danced to every song on it in my bedroom when I was a kid.”

    Of course she did. It’s jam packed with ear candy, consistently tasty stuff that the Dweebs, Television, Wilco, etc. could never come up with in a million years. There’s a simple reason why those bands never had big hits. They couldn’t write one, and if they could, they wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.

    The unjustified bashing of Pat Benatar up here has gone on for ages, and it’s always delivered by some bozo who’s pissed that she and her band were smart enough to snag the most consumer friendly aspects of punk and new wave and use them to their commercial advantage. It would be so very refreshing to see someone up here simply state that they’re pissed that they missed the boat.

    Jesus Christ, give her a fucking break.


  7. Happiness Stan

    I only knew Pat Benatar from photos on full page ads in music papers when her label decided what the UK needed was another sullen pouty rock chick. I don’t think she did anything here, unless that Love is a Battlefield thing was her. I always thought she looked like my sister when she’d been told off for something and was thinking about denying it. To my good friend EPG, I say her image consultants did her few favours, and for all I know she might have been the second coming of Olivia Newton John.

    I’m wasn’t sure I quite followed the premise of the question about wanting to hear the original of a song I don’t like as if expecting to like it and bring disappointed when I didn’t. Without You, possibly. I bought a Badfinger best of on the strength of Come and Get It, and expected to like their version better than Nilsson’s cover, but it was a bit thin, like most of the rest, but that’s more to do with Badfinger than the song itself. Likewise, it was difficult to imagine Neil Diamond’s version of Red Red Wine being as awful as UB40’s, but it’s not far off.

  8. Hey Stan, for the record, the whole thing is really no big deal. I just had it with all the negative Pat Benatar horseshit. Honestly, who cares?

  9. Happiness Stan

    Probably not even Pat Benatar, if truth be told. And you’re spot on about cool bands without hits. It’s why I’d still unashamedly prefer to listen to Slade’s greatest hits than anything contemporary longer than four minutes long with twiddly bits. And your anecdote reminds me of why I’ll go out of my way to defend Laura Nyro to the bitter end, even though I’ve probably only heard three songs by her in thirty years.

  10. Honestly, EPG, try focusing on the question I posed rather than the example I used. Your “50,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong” stance on a number of things your sincerely kinder, wiser self has hit on rings hollow. Not your feelings about the music of Benetar and Meat Loaf, mind you, but as a rhetorical device. All that said, calling the dB’s the Dweebs is one of your many everlasting contributions to the lexicon.

    All THAT said, I appreciate the side tangents this as-yet-unanswered question has taken, even EPG’s attack on my character. (Major Post-Fonzie Syndrome points, by the way, for slipping in that reference to Plant’s early band, as if Plurbs was saying, “I can stop anytime.”)

    BigSteve points out the best part of the Rascals’ version: those loose rhythmic guitar fills. Chickenfrank brings up the unnecessarily and unconvincingly angry look on Pat’s face. Der Senator, a newcomer to the Halls of Rock, unless my memory has failed me, gives me shit for the slightest poke at the immensely overrated Todd Rundgren!

    I hate when all this happens. Not really. Happiness Stan got close to answering the question, when he thought that Badfinger’s version of “Come and Get It” might offer more than the Nilsson cover, but it doesn’t sound like he had put a lot of stock in Badfinger.

    Let the side chatter continue. Come at me, if you wish.


  11. Love Hurts by Nazareth is intolerable and inescapable. Love Hurts by The Everly Brothers is an OK Everlys song.

  12. “Love Hurts” is a PERFECT example, and another song I only knew by the cover version growing up. I agree with your take on each version. I expected more from the Every Brothers.

  13. Moderator, as with most of your posts, this one too is all over the place. I gather what you’re trying to state can be more or less summed up in two sentences. 1) Some songs, which initially appear to have potential, alas have nothing. 2) And as a sidebar, you’re pissed that you missed the boat.

    As far as the first point is concerned, it’s worthy of discussion. That said, subjectivity is going to make it all rather difficult. From where I stand, Pat Benatar and her gang finally figured out what to do with “You Better Run,” and “Love Hurts” is a solid songwriting effort handled well by both the Everlys and Nazareth. Again, those takes are arguable. I’m waiting for examples that appear to be inarguable.

    As far as the second point is concerned, it’s okay to be pissed off. In your very own words, let it go. You’ve been blessed with a good life: a perfect partner, great friends, and a taste of the rock star dream. Be thankful.

    Finally, I’m more than aware that I keep bringing up the whole Fonzie jacket thing. All that would end if you’d just take the fucking thing off. You’ve had it on for so long, I’m beginning to think it’s caused some brain damage. The thought occurred to me the last time you were over here. You picked up my acoustic guitar, strummed some chords, and threw out the following comment regarding the capo gripping the strings north of the third fret: “This was always a big no no for me and the rest of the guys in the band.”

    After you left, I went in the kitchen, washed dishes with Maureen and thought about how insane it was to have that kind of mindset. I had the impression it was something that was still bugging you. Honestly, how good are you ever gonna get and how open minded are you ever gonna be if your viewpoint about the capo is that it’s a tool that only a pussy would use???!!!!!!

    And you and I both know that your whole anti-jangle thing has nothing to do with an acutal dislike of that sound.

    Again, let it go. Take off the fucking Fonzie jacket. Let’s have a real summer of love with a new and improved Moderator.

  14. EPG:

    Mod suggested that he found “You Better Run” by Pat Benatar to be unpleasant and, upon finding that it was a Rascals Song, he explored their version and found it to also be a bit of a dud. At least not a golden nugget that had been tarnished by Benatar. His opinion.

    He asked if anyone else had an example of a song that they thought might have been ruined by its remake based on the provenance of the original, only to find that the original was lackluster. It wasn’t exactly a Pat Benatar thread.

    Obviously, we are then invited to agree or disagree with the nominations, comment on the reasons why the remake fell short or even why it is actually better. Which you did. Then you complained that the whole thread is stupid, anyone that actually mentions another example, “handled better by…Nazareth,” really?, is a victim of groupthink that only your enlightened self can rise above. Jeez.

  15. I’ve begun to suspect that RTH has a magic algorithm that gives me an instant high five is my comment is critical of EPG.

    Back office, great job!

  16. Geo, know that I won’t be partaking of the purple Kool-Aid you and a few others find so refreshing.

    Just for the record, not once did I state that the thread was dumb. You wanna have an interesting discussion about all this? Explain specifically, with some kind of objectivity in mind, what makes “You Better Run”, and “Love Hurts” weak songwriting and performance wise.No one has done that yet.

    What we have is a discussion with a bunch of old farts, set in their ways, who refuse to believe that anchovies and onions on Elios pizza might be just the thing that elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary.

    Granted, I’ve already had a few drinks, but we definitely need some new blood around these parts to provide much needed CPR. Times have changed. What we see is garbage is the next generation’s masterpiece. What they buy in droves would surprise the living beejays out of you. And many can defend their choices very articulately.

    C’mon, what’s your beef with “Love Hurts” by Nazareth? I bought it when it came out, couples skated to it at the roller rink, and still find it appealing. Why do you see it as a failure? None of this shit makes a shred of sense to me.

  17. Happiness Stan

    I like Love Hurts by Nazareth, the Everlys, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and Roy Orbison.

    Nazareth played at a festival I went to a few years ago, their vocalist had retired from ill health, but they put on a good show and did the business. I always loved Broken Down Angel.

    I might have been unclear above, but I meant Without You. I expected to like the Badfinger original, but instead thought it plodding and dull. We discussed Badfinger not long ago so not much point in repeating it here. They’re a band I feel actual guilt for not liking as much as I think I should, but, just like Big Star, I just don’t get it.

  18. Moderator, it would be greatly appreciated if you could sum up some of the insights which were served up during Saturday’s grub and gab, Specifically, that which defines “cheese” and how and why something as trite as Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston” can jar the emotions of an elementary school aged pop fan.

  19. Fear not, EPG, I plan on finding the time to write up something about the healing effects of Dave Loggins.

  20. Love Hurts is “okay”? WTF?

    Love Hurts is one of those bulletproof songs like To Love Somebody, where it almost doesn’t matter who’s singing it. It’s such a great song that it’s near impossible to screw up.

    HappinessStan, welcome to Team Righteousness. Note the absence of people from Nixon’s Head on our roster.

  21. Just so I’m clear; do we have multiple people defending the Nazareth version of Love Hurts?!?! Holy crap. I’ll guess I’ll hang on to all the testosterone here at RTH. Just let me know when your slumber party is over, and you can have yours back.

  22. WANTED: 3rd non-essential guitarist for Nixon’s Head. Must have little tolerance for solo female singers as well as girl groups, capos, jangle pop, and jazz chords. Having a large chip on one’s shoulder is a definite plus. Fonzie jacket required 24/7. No ifs, ands, or buts. Must apply in person.

  23. Way to move the goalposts, Chicken. I’m defending the song, not the Nazareth version.

  24. cherguevara

    I didn’t know this was a cover either! It is interesting to hear the original versions of songs I didn’t know were covers. I still prefer Bauhaus’ version of “Telegram Sam.” A weird song to mention here in the hall is “Bette Davis Eyes,” because, well, who cares? But the original version sounds almost nothing like the famous version.

    Pat Benetar falls into the same category as Bryan Adams, for me – they were making pop-rock music, and even when they were new, their music seemed tailored for the food court. It wasn’t rock enough nor cutting-edge enough to be cool. I’d imagine there was a lot of polishing and sculpting done by their record companies. But Benetar did cover Wuthering Heights, which I think says something about her as a music fan. (Not sure it’s enough for a “critical upgrade,” though.) There was a co-opting of New Wave looks and sounds that seemed motivated by wannabe aspirations, people who were followers, not leaders, and even as a doofus teenager, I was able to spot that. Peter Cetera in a Bauhaus t-shirt would be exhibit A, but there are plenty of examples.

  25. Happiness Stan

    Really? Pat Benatar did Wuthering Heights? Is it any good? (Note reluctance to check). Some songs don’t provide obvious potential for cover versions. Galaxie 500s take on Jonathan Richman’s Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste is a case in point. I like both versions, so it doesn’t meet the criteria above, and fey dreamy pop princesses Smoke Fairies take on Steal Softly Thru Snow was a bit surprising.

  26. Finally!!!

    Cherguevara writes: “their music seemed tailored for the food court.” Laugh out loud funny. Far from objectivity, but a solid stab at defining “cheese”.

    At Saturday’s grub and gab, me, the moderator, and our women too tried to come up with some kind of criteria for categorizing “chesse.” The best I could do was suggest that it was that which was not respected in the least by any back in the day major critic.

    Somehow or another the discussion led to a remembrance of “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins and other songs that brought a tear to one’s eye. Still waiting for the Moderator to flesh it all out.

  27. cherguevara

    Oh no, it’s not good. But I”ve never listened to one of her albums. I’ve heard if an artist gives a label a few solid singles, they can get away with more on the rest of the album. Maybe she slipped it in. Maybe it was a cry for help.

    So many cheeses, are they good and bad, or bad only? Pejorative?

  28. Happiness,

    Thanks for that shout out to the Smoke Fairies. I had never heard of them but I chased it down to hear what it was like and it was fascinating. The guitar parts are very similar to the original, obviously recorded and executed in a way to minimize the abrasiveness. I love how they handle the section where for a moment the Magic Band seems to lock into what is a normal regular musical groove. The way their singing melody slides across that part is brilliant. The guitar sound and reverbed recording is reminiscent of Mu, the band Antenna Jimmy Semens wound up in.

  29. THAT was funny, chickenfrank.

  30. THAT was funny, E Pluribus Gergely.

  31. Been out of touch with RTH for a little bit but apparently in my absence there is some Bizarro World thing happening.

    In this thread, someone purporting to be EPG writes:

    “Of course she (Pat Benatar) did. It’s jam packed with ear candy, consistently tasty stuff that the Dweebs, Television, Wilco, etc. could never come up with in a million years. There’s a simple reason why those bands never had big hits. They couldn’t write one, and if they could, they wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.

    The unjustified bashing of Pat Benatar up here has gone on for ages, and it’s always delivered by some bozo who’s pissed that she and her band were smart enough to snag the most consumer friendly aspects of punk and new wave and use them to their commercial advantage. It would be so very refreshing to see someone up here simply state that they’re pissed that they missed the boat.”

    Of course, last week, someone purporting to be EPG took the exact opposite position in bashing T. Rex.

    Will the real EPG please stand up?

  32. Yet another stab at “You Better Run”. This one’s by Ruby Jones, released on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label. Don’t get your hopes up. Curtis didn’t produce it.


    And Al, just for the record, you won’t find Benatar on my shelves, but what she serves up is far more diverse than T. Rex’s 150 or so mystic elfin tracks with the a, b, or c rhythm patterns.

  33. mockcarr

    I’d rather wear Fonzie’s leather jacket than Pat’s leather pants.

  34. That’s telling him, mockcarr!

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