I’ve often mused on musical covers by the same artist. This would be a re-cover in the parlance of the Coverville podcast, which I listen to regularly.
The post was initiated by a 2021 video of a lawyer talking about Taylor Swift rerecording her early albums issued under her original contract. The attorney wondered if the public would purchase the songs again; from the last time I checked the Billboard album charts, three of the ten albums were “Taylor’s version.”
I should compare the old songs with the new ones, but I’m not a Swifty and would feel inadequate to point out the differences in the recordings. (However, I’m quite amused and bemused by the MAGA disdain for her.)
“Ten of the album’s twelve tracks are re-recorded versions of songs that Sinatra had previously released, with ‘Pocketful of Miracles’ and ‘Call Me Irresponsible’ being first-time recordings for Sinatra.
“Sinatra’s two previous record labels, Columbia Records and Capitol Records had both successfully issued collections of Sinatra’s hits; this album was the attempt of his new label, Reprise Records, to duplicate this success by offering some earlier songs in stereophonic sound, which by 1963 was an exploding recording technology.” You should be able to hear that album in its entirety here; then, you can tool around and find earlier iterations.
The Beatles had different versions of Get Back and Let It Be, from the single to the album version. Both Get Back and Medicated Goo by Traffic have singles that come to a dead stop – I still own the 45s – while the album cuts do not. Get Back: LP and single. Medicated Goo album cut; I can’t find the single.
I also considered remakes such as Fame and Fame ’90 by David Bowie, Think and Think ’89 by Aretha Franklin, and a supposedly improved version of John Hiatt’s Have A Little Faith In Me. In each case, I prefer the original. However, I have an odd affection for the Trans version by Neil Young of Mr. Soul compared with the Buffalo Springfield take.
Egregious sins exist on remakes of some compilation albums. I have a Herman’s Hermans greatest hits collection that is all redos; Peter Noone is singing them, but it ain’t the same. Likewise, I have a 4-CD set of soul songs, with the only originals by deceased artists. These are very disappointing.
Licensing rights are often the issue. Rhino put out The Ray Charles Anthology, with 17 songs from his ABC/Paramount period and three live versions of songs he first recorded when he was on Atlantic Records.
Live versions versus studio albums? A whole ‘nother conversation. I tend to like the studio versions, though the live performance of I’m So Glad on Goodbye Cream shreds the studio track from Fresh Cream.
That said, I needed to do much more compare and contrast, scouring YouTube to do the topic justice; frankly, it was too daunting.