Skid Row

Playlist: Play It Again

Ever wonder why some artists feel the need to re-record their big hits? Sometimes it’s to record with a new lineup, other times it’s for legal reasons. But more often than not it feels like a cheap cash cow and is almost always a bad idea. While some bands have gotten away with re-recordings that aren’t terrible, they never live up to the original. Let’s take a listen to some of the best and worst re-recorded hit songs.

“Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure

The Cure have a lot of notable songs in their lengthy catalog, but this is their most iconic. Taken from their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, the song received moderate praise upon original release. Over time, the single garnered more praise and acclaim quickly becoming a Cure staple. When Robert Smith revisited the band’s singles for their 1986 compilation cassette, Staring at the Beach, Smith and co-headed back into the studio to re-record the classic. Known as “New Voice New Mix” the new version sounds very similar to the original. The biggest difference is Smith’s mature and more playful vocal take. Though it doesn’t sound bad, it still doesn’t match the charm of the original. It seems the band knows this as the new version was only used for the companion video. Otherwise, it has not been officially released on subsequent Cure collections.

“Shout at the Devil” – Motley Crue

Normally, there is no reason why a band should re-record their songs, especially when they’re considered classics. Usually, it ends up a disaster. Sadly, this is the outcome of Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil 97.” The original is a staple of heavy metal and helped launched their career. It remains one of their best songs. In 1997, the band reunited with Vince Neil, who left 1992 and released their seventh album, Generation Swine. To celebrate Neil’s return the band decided to re-record the song. And it’s…weird. While the vocals are largely unchanged, the music sounds nothing like the original. It’s hard to even pick out the tracks’ notable riff. Is this supposed to be a heavy metal version? It’s like they wanted to prove how bad and edgy they were and this is the result. Best avoid this version at all costs.

“Ace of Spades” – Motorhead

If there’s one song that represents being a badass, heavy metal, and the awesomeness of Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, it’s “Ace of Spades.” It’s not only the band’s most well-known song, it’s often listed as one of the best songs ever. And with good reason. Everything about it from the iconic riff to Lemmy’s gruff vocals makes it kick ass. The song is pretty much perfect, so why mess with it? When Rockband wanted to use the song for their game, the band re-recorded it and branded it “Ace of Spades 08.” There’s nothing bad about it; it sounds pretty close to the original. But it’s just not the same. Hearing it you know something’s off and it’s a little disappointing. At least Motorhead didn’t try to rebrand the song, unlike the Crue boys.

“Every Day is Halloween” – Ministry

Ministry’s early work is spotty at best. Before they found their abrasive, brutal industrial sound they sounded more like a faceless new wave band. It wasn’t until this song that they began finding their sound. Though the band would have bigger hits later on, this song still played an important role for both the group and fans. It’s still considered a favorite in their catalog. But perhaps Al Jourgensen thought it wasn’t heavy enough. He “fixed” this by re-recording the song in 2010. This version sounds more in tune with later Ministry, but it also sounds like a mediocre cover. The grinding guitars, fast tempo, and new vocals suck out everything that made the original great. This just sounds like another boring metal song trying too hard to be edgy.

“Melt With You” – Modern English

Though Modern English found more success in the UK they’ll forever be known as the one-hit wonders who gave us this 80s classic in the States. Constant airplay on MTV and playing over the end credits of Valley Girl helped it become a hit. It eventually reached number 7 on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart. The band re-recorded the track for their 1990 album, Pillow Lips. While you can hear some slight vocal variations, the changes are minimal. The same can’t be said for the 2010 version of the song. Recorded for the I Melt With You soundtrack, this version is harrowing. It takes all the bouncy, fun nature out of the song. Instead, it sounds stark, dark, and haunting. The 1983 version is still superior, but there’s something oddly beautiful about the 2010 rendition.

“Missing You” – John Waite

John Waite has a notable career as the singer for Bad English and The Babys, but he’s best remembered for this 80s ballad. It’s a typical sappy song about getting over someone, but not really getting over them. It proved to be a major hit and topped the charts in several countries. He’s gone on to release other successful singles, but none as big as this. In 2007, he re-recorded the track with Allison Krauss for her album A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s not terrible. It’s okay at best. Krauss doesn’t sound horrible singing and Waite sounds pretty much the same. It’s a very vanilla rendition of the song that makes you wonder why it had to happen in the first place.

“In This Paradise”- London After Midnight

This track from LAM’s debut album, Selected Scenes from the End of the World, has a Gothic, mysterious nature with the tolling bells and Sean Brennan’s vampiric vibe. There’s a dark romanticism to it that’s alluring, yet mysterious. But the album received a limited release and as a result was reissued several times in the States and Europe. For the 2003 re-release, Brennan re-recorded various songs from the album, including this track. The most notable change is the better sound quality. It no longer sounds like the track is muffled. Brennan also tightens up his vocals and the instrumentation, though the dancing guitar riff found in the original is missing here. It’s actually a decent update but is still missing the tantalizing vibe of the original.

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung

This Wang Chung hit is one of those mindless pop songs from the 80s. You know it’s bad, but like it because it has a catchy, memorable hook. Whether or not you actually like it, you’ll be singing along with it. Besides, the song has a positive message: have fun tonight. Who can’t get behind that? At least listening to it is better than watching the nauseating video. The 2010 re-recorded version doesn’t change much, but there’s something missing. It doesn’t sound as upbeat and energetic as the original. It sounds like a Wang Chung cover band is performing instead. And they try to spice up the song with soulful backup singers, but it falls flat. The whole thing sounds deflated. So if you have to listen to the song, stick with the original. Just don’t ask what “everybody wang chung tonight” means. The band doesn’t know either.

“I Remember You Two” – Skid Row

Skid Row’s third single is a cut and dry power ballad. It has sappy lyrics, soothing acoustic guitars, and the “edgy” hard guitars meant to show you it’s not a cheesy love song even though it is. The band re-recorded the song in 2003 with new lead singer Johnny Solinger as “I Remember You Two.” Re-recording hit songs with a new singer is never a good idea. No matter how decent the singer is, it will never live up to the original. Sadly, this isn’t the only problem this version has. Rather than sticking with the power ballad formula, the band “update” it to be heavier giving a lame “punk rock” sound. This along with the over the top vocals make it sound like your dad’s cover band instead of Skid Row. This is why re-recording songs is almost always a bad idea.

“I Was Made for Lovin’ You” – KISS

Sometimes when a band changes its lineup, they feel it’s time to recapture the magic of classic hits with their “amazing” new members. Skid Row already showed us why this is a bad idea, yet bands keep doing it. Look to KISS’ Kiss Klassics, an entire album of re-recorded hits featuring their 2008 lineup of Paul Stanely, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer. All of their biggest hits are re-recorded with less enthusiasm and energy as before. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” shows you just how bad the album is. Not only does the whole thing sound unenthusiastic and boring, Stanely clearly can’t hit those high notes during the bridge. That wouldn’t be a problem if his attempt actually sounded good; it just sounds sad.

“Your Sweet 666” – HIM

Originally found on their debut album, this track was later re-recorded for their breakout LP, Razorblade Romance. Unlike many of the tracks here, the two versions are obviously different from one another. The original sounded like it came from the depths of Hell with Ville Valo’s deep vocals and the hard, distorted guitars. The later version is lighter in tone featuring more keys and fewer guitars in the mix overall. Rather than sounding heavy, this one has more of a traditional rock tone with a bit of glam mixed in. Though some fans prefer the new version, the first packs a heavier punch. With its Gothic nature, dark tones, and haunting vibe, the original stands out with its dramatic, Hellish vibe fitting in with HIM’s long-running themes of love and death. The latter version sounds like another typical rock song and isn’t as exciting as the original.

“I’m Your Man” – Wham!

Wham’s 1985 single proved to be another hit for the duo and one of their last before their split in 1986. Just like their other singles, this one is upbeat and fun, making you want to dance as soon as you hear the bouncy beat. It also has a killer hook of “baby/I’m your man” that you can’t help but sing out. It’s one of those typical fun 80s songs that puts you in a good mood. When it was time for a Wham! greatest hits album in 1996, George Michael decided to update the hit with an R&B spin. And it’s…something. The sound is completely different with elements of funk, rap, and R&B. Hearing hype men shout “who da man” at the beginning leaves you scratching your head. The whole thing sounds like a cover from the Backstreet Boys. Rather than breathing new life into the song, it’s a sad attempt at trying to be relevant.

“Paradise City” – Slash

This is another sad attempt of trying to update a classic. With Slash and Axl Rose not on speaking terms, Slash decided to release his debut solo album in 2010. The previous year, he released the single “Sahara,” which featured this GNR classic as the b-side. You can’t fault Slash for wanting to reinvent one of the band’s biggest hits – he’s part of the reason the why the song is so popular. But you would think he’d enlist a viable rock singer for vocals. Instead, he recruits Fergie and Cypress Hill. Why? is the only thing you’ll ask yourself when hearing this terrible rendition. This is one case where rap and rock don’t get along. And when was the last time Cypress Hill were relevant? Fergie’s screeching in the background just makes matters worse. It’s not worth sitting through this crap to hear Slash’s killer licks. Just stick with the original.

Which re-recorded hits did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Screw this Job!

Labor Day has come and passed meaning it’s time to get back to work and for some of you, get back to school. There are many songs dedicate to people who work hard to earn a paycheck, but no matter where you work there’s are bound to be days when you can’t stand to be at work for a second longer. These songs know how much it sucks to be stuck at a place you hate, working for someone who doesn’t respect you, and barely making enough to get by. Here’s a playlist for when you want to say take this job and shove it!

“Work Hard” – Depeche Mode

This b-side to “Everything Counts,” which has a similar subject matter, finds the band sounding mechanical and robotic. There’s lots of metallic clanging and banging ringing over the jaunty synth like they recorded the song in an old steel factory. Dave Gahan repeats the mantra “You’ve got to work hard/You’ve got to work hard/if you want anything at all” throughout the track and alludes that the only thing that’ll come easily to you is a broken back. With the simple, repetitive lyrics, it makes you think of hard labor, which emphasized by all the banging noise. But no matter what field you work in, everyone knows you’ve got to work hard.

“Slave to the Grind” – Skid Row

In this song, Sebastian Bach let’s us know that he refuses to be anyone’s rat. He captures the repetitive, boring, and monotonous side of work and how much it fucking sucks. Rather than working for someone else, Bach wants to be “king of the world” and he’s not getting there by working a meaningless 9-5.  Capturing what office life can be, the song rages, rips, and roars, making it the perfect outlet for a shitty day at work. Anyone’s whose ever had an unpaid internship can definitely feel what Bach is screaming about.

“God Damn Job” – The Replacements

Working a job you hate is soul sucking, but it’s better than having no job at all. This Replacements song is for everyone pushing applications and resumes out daily only to receive one response saying they don’t have enough experience. Everyone venturing out into the job world has been here: recently graduated, living with your parents, and you need some fucking money. Therefore, you need a god damn job and no one will give you one no matter how much experience you got from those unpaid internships.

“It’s Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World)” – The Ramones

Some people just aren’t cut out for jobs and this Ramones song celebrates that. Rather then paying for school to get a good job only to hate it later on, Joey Ramone would rather hang out with Lester Bangs and Jack Nicholson, via the TV, and keep his identity. Not only is it upbeat and catchy, the song expresses all the worries and fears of those who think office jobs are going to turn them into dullards who hate their lives. Definitely one of those slacker for life songs and hey, who wouldn’t want that?

“Don’t Talk to Me About Work” – Lou Reed

There’s nothing worse than having to relive a shit-tastic work day by recapping when you get home. That’s why the late Lou Reed refused to do so in this song. He starts out by lamenting how it was a great day for anything and everything, expect being stuck at work. He then pleads to not talk to him about work once he gets home. The song is upbeat and pretty catchy even though the subject itself isn’t a happy one. What makes it great is it’s straight to the point and highly relatable. Ugh, I’m getting flashbacks to shitty work weeks already.

“Soul Suckin’ Jerk” – Beck

This track maps out the pointless and tireless duties of one average Joe who decided to stop “throwing chicken in a bucket” and quit his job. From there, Beck continues to rap about what happened after he left, which includes running naked in the mall, getting cuddly with a hooker, and stealing firearms from the cops. It sounds odd, but think about how good it would feel to tell your boss to shove this job and run around without a care? That is until you remember you have bills to pay. Maybe you shouldn’t have quit after all.

“Career Opportunities” – The Clash

Rather than criticizing one particular job, The Clash bashes on the state of available jobs in England during the 70s. The band lists off several jobs they find to be undesirable and even menial, such as bus driver, ambulance, and a tea maker for the BBC. Even though they want no part in the pointless jobs available to them, by the end they know they have no choice but to take them. Though it was written so long ago, the song can still be applied today as so many people fresh out of school find out there aren’t as many jobs waiting for them as they thought. Bummer.

“Working This Job (This Fucking Job)” – Drive-By Truckers

This song, and the accompanying video, show what working is really like, especially if it’s in the service field. The song notes how this job only keeps him floating from paycheck to paycheck never really getting ahead in life. One of the most telling and heartbreaking lyrics is “No one said it would be easy/or for that matter it’d be so hard,” which you learn once you enter (or try to enter) the workforce. Actually, the song is kind of depressing, so you may need a pick me up after listening to it.

“Workhorse” – Mastodon

The song is about how much work sucks. It’s as simple as that. The band compares working for the man to slavery and people are expected to be a workhorse; to keep going and never get tired. It’s brash, thrashing, aggressive, and fucking brutal. It makes you feel like you’re ready to go into battle or at least tell your boss to suck it.

Bonus:

“Working Day and Night” – Michael Jackson

So this track doesn’t necessarily point out why working sucks, but it’s too good to leave off. Only Michael Jackson can make working all day sound like so much fun. Filled with deep grooves, disco vibes, and jumping beats that make you want to shimmy, Jackson talks about how his woman only wants him to work, though he’d rather spend his time with her. Even though it’s about something that’s not fun, the song puts you in a good mood and makes you giddy when you hear it. Who doesn’t want to get and up dance when they hear that frantic rhythm that opens the song? It’s one of Jackson’s most popular songs that was never a single. Rather, it served as the b-side to “Rock With You.” Goes to show that Michael can make anything sound good, even this.

What’s your favorite song dissing work? Let me know in the comments!