Mix Six: “The Re-Record”
DOWNLOAD THE FULL MIX HERE You can thank both members of the Popdose staff and Styx for this mix. Styx streamed tracks off their new album Regeneration Volume 1 on their Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, and there was a press release promoting “the event” that circulated to all the writers at Popdose – which started a lengthy thread about the merits of the re-records and why artists bother doing them in the first place. So why do artists take the time to re-record their hits? The best answer was given by Chris Difford from Squeeze, who said in a Huffington Post interview: “Well, Squeeze has never owned our own copyrights because, obviously, they’re owned by a major record label. We thought it might be fun to re-record our songs to make it possible for us to own a little bit more of our own history.” Even if you’re just a casual music fan, you probably know that artists rarely own the music they create. Rather, the labels structure album deals so they get the gravy and the artist gets a few drips from the label’s plate. It’s all very sad and unfair, but when you’re starting out as a band, you’re often desperate to make a deal, and the labels know this and use it to their advantage. Artists who have staying power can try and purchase the rights to their music (which can be very expensive), or they can do a re-record as a way, to use Difford’s phrase, to own a bit more of their own history. The result, as you’ll hear, is uneven, but it’s interesting to hear an artist try and recreate the magic.[My thanks to Scott Malchus, Dw Dunphy, Matt Wardlaw, Jeff Giles, and Dave Steed for the song suggestions. ~ Ted]
“Hourglass,” Squeeze (Download)
Glenn Tilbrook seems to think that he and Chris Difford sound exactly the same as they did back in the day. And while many of the songs sound very close to the original on Spot the Difference, Tilbrook’s voice is sounding a bit weathered on “Hourglass.” Still, this song has always been a kind of sleeper favorite of mine — even though it did very well for the group back in 1987. Nowadays? Well, it seems most radio stations are only interested in playing “Tempted,” “Cool for Cats,” or “Black Coffee In Bed.” “Hourglass,” however, has a lovably quirky quality that manifests itself in the chorus.
“Sister Christian,” Night Ranger (Download)
“Sister Christian” is the biggest hit for Night Ranger, and they re-recorded it. Why? Well, maybe it was for similar reasons as Squeeze re-recorded their hits. But I gotta say that they really did their fans a disservice by doing so. Kelly Keagy tries to capture the power and the magic of when he first laid down the master vocal track for this song back in the early ’80s, but I think you can hear that there’s something missing from this recording.
“Come Sail Away,” Styx (Download)
Yes, yes, yes, we all know that Dennis DeYoung left the Styx corporation years ago, and their current lead singer (Lawrence Gowan) has been with the band for 11 years and singing their hits for audiences around the world. So one would presume that a re-recording of “Come Sail Away” wouldn’t stray too far from from the original — but it does at times. The song has always been a cheesy anthem (that I love, by the way), but the weird synth bleeps and burps, stacked drum fills, and uninspired vocals by Gowan make me wonder why the band bothered to re-record this song. Say what you will about DeYoung, but the guy could really sell heartfelt emotion in a song — even when he was singing about robots. Gowan hits all the right notes, but to me he’s emotionally divorced from the song and is just going through the motions from start to finish.
“Stone in Love,” Journey (Download)
I’m not a Steve Perry purist, so it doesn’t bother me that Journey decided to re-record their hits. Arnel Pineda does a fine job of singing “Stone in Love,” and brings a seasoned voice to the table. And much like Steve Augeri, Pineda had some mighty big shoes to fill when he got tapped to front Journey. But I think both vocalists rose to the occasion and have given the band a second and third life.
“Detroit Rock City,” KISS (Download)
Knowing Gene Simmons’ love of money, it was probably his idea to package Sonic Boom with “Kiss Klassics” that were re-recorded. “Detroit Rock City” is a song you don’t mess with. I mean, it’s a piece of work that represents the band at the pinnacle of their career. And if there were ever a KISS song that achieves perfection, it’s “Detroit Rock City.” So why mess with perfection? It’s difficult to say, but the more I hear this version, the more I hear Gene Simmons’ saying: “I think I’ve found a way to freeze out Peter Criss and Ace Frehley even more!”
“School’s Out,” Alice Cooper (Download)
What do you think? Is Alice riding the trend of re-recording one’s hits to boost his bottom line? Well, if we’ve learned anything from professors Difford and Tilbrook, it’s this: it used to be a big no-no to sell out, but in this age of diminishing profits from record sales, selling out is a big yes-yes.