Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another Musical Annoyance

When a song co-written by two of my all-time favorite performers, recorded and made somewhat a hit by one, and then gets a limited release of sorts as a scorching live song by the other, is now best known to too many people by a cover by, in my opinion, a much less talented singer, well, I have to write about it.
"Because the Night," co-written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, appeared first on Smith's classic 1978 "Easter" CD, then later as a smoldering live track sent to radio stations only (at that time) by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I loved Smith's version, and I was fortunate enough to catch Springsteen and band in December 1980 at the War Memorial Auditorium here in Buffalo, and I can still remember my jaw all but hitting the ground during his performance, as Springsteen virtually ripped the strings off his Telecaster during two long, searing solos.
So, when Western New York's (Jamestown, Buffalo and Sloan) 10,000 Maniacs recorded it for a live MTV Unplugged show and later CD, I was not too thrilled; not because the musicians of 10,000 Maniacs aren't talented, because they are, but because climactic, gut wrenching rock and roll was not the band's forte, and I have never really enjoyed Natalie Merchant's voice. No, the band's actual version of the song does not move me.
So, of course, which version of the song do I hear over and over and over, including recently on 107.7 The Lake, normally a fine radio station? Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs' recording. Please, friends at The Lake or elsewhere, start playing Patti Smith's original, or even the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version on one of the band's official live CDs.


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