Monday, July 17, 2006

Walking With Renee

I just found out that one of my favorite obscure bands, Lotion -- best known probably for having Thomas Pynchon write the liner notes to their second album, which I'll admit is the only reason I heard of them in the first place -- recorded the Left Banke's "Just Walk Away, Renee." I heard a snatch of it on and it wasn't half-bad.

I couldn't find it to download, but know what? There is no end of cover versions of that song. I have the Four Tops version, but I didn't know Kelly Clarkson, Vonda Shepard, Bruce Springsteen, The Association, Rickie Lee Jones, Marshall Crenshaw, Cyndi Lauper, and Bon Jovi have all taken a crack at it, too.

I heard the Cowsills version -- it's so awful it's good. Billy Bragg does a beautiful inspired take on it, too, where the tune serves as a backup to his own poetic ramblings about an old girlfriend. (I can't stop playing it.) Southside Johnny does it with some great sax and very soulful backup.

Another goopy romantic favorite of mine, another wonderful piece of glittering throwaway heart-melting trash, is the Tremeloes "Silence is Golden." Looks like everyone and his dog has covered that, too. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, for one -- you'd think it would be right up the alley for those cheesemeisters, but they fumble it pretty badly.


Martin said...

The original version of Silence is Golden was by the Four Seasons (1964), the cover version was by the Tremeloes in 1967! The Seasons wasted "Silence" by putting it on the B side of their No 1 hit "Rag Doll". In my view and that of most professional critics, the 4 Seasons original of "Silence is Golden" is far superior to the Tremeloes.
Lots of British groups in the 60s and 70s mined the Seasons song book for material

RW said...

Wow, was I ever wrong on my facts regarding the dates. But only a professional critic with a brain full of sand would prefer that abysmal Four Seasons version. It is sheer unlistenable dreck. The arrangement is awful beyond words -- it's slow, bereft of any but the most facile emotion, and what's with that clopping sound in the background? Were they performing on Lawrence Welk? I make no great claims for The Tremeloes as a band, but clearly they or their producer knew how to crack the song open. They found the great gooey core of the song's purely adolescent sentiment and exploited it brilliantly.