I remember Peter Cooper (from ElectroSquad) saying at high school, that it was far preferable to discover a chord progression for yourself than learn it from someone else’s song. And I know exactly what he means – if you learn someone else’s song and you play its chord progression, often all you’ll hear in your head is that song – so it’s harder to come up with an original melody. Therein lies the danger of doing too many cover songs, and possibly explains why cover bands often struggle to make original music.
Conversely, doing cover versions can be a great challenge from a production and performance point of view. You have a benchmark – you either need to do it better than the original (often hard to do), or find an original perspective to showcase the song. Covers can be popular because there is familiarity with the tune and there is common ground between the covering artist and listener. Of course, if you butcher someone’s favourite song, then they’ll come after you with an axe!
I’ve written a number of new songs this year which may be my best collection yet (artists always say that, don’t they?), but before I produce and record these, I’ve decided to release an album of covers. I’m treating this as a production challenge and hope that the learnings will flow through to my next album, whilst leaving my songwriting unscathed.
IT MUST BE OBVIOUS.
The cover album will be called “It Must Be Obvious” and will be a tribute to some of my influences. The title is a tip of the hat to Pet Shop Boys who have a b-side track of the same name.
I’ve made a list of about 50 potential songs spanning the 1960s through to modern day. I’m currently going through the process of culling it down to about 12 songs. Essentially this means learning the songs and trying to work out which ones will translate well to the Space March sound – much harder than it seems!
THE FIRST HALF…
I have basic arrangements for the songs below and I’m pretty confident they will work. Although, I won’t be 100% sure until I record the vocals. I’m also working out how to make the songs work as an album – e.g. the album’s sound palette and track flow.
In no particular order, the first set:
- Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (1990)
- Duran Duran – Friends of Mine (1981)
- Tears for Fears – Mad World (1982)
- The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1985)
- The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting for the Man (1967)
- Muse – Uprising (2009)
I will blog again with the second half of the album. I won’t give too much away yet, but yes, it will include Pet Shop Boys and The Beatles!
What do you think of the song choices so far?