Sunday, September 21, 2008

Under the Covers

Quick, who had a Top Forty hit covering a Who song? Nope, not Tina Turner; a studio group from Philadelphia called the Assembled Multitude went to Number Sixteen in 1970 with "Overture from Tommy (A Rock Opera)." Tom Sellers, the mastermind behind the group, was only 21 or so (his biographical data is hard to come by) at the time he was arranging instrumental versions of not just his only hit but the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Ohio." I'm probably forgetting something, but that may be the only Who cover to reach the Top Forty. (Limp Bizkit's cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" reached Number Twenty-Four on the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream in 2004, which you can count if you want.)

Now, who had a hit with a cover of a Sly and the Family Stone song? Here's where we turn to Ike and Tina, who went to Number Thirty-Four in August 1970 with their version of "I Want to Take You Higher," credited actually to Ike & Tina Turner & the Ikettes. Sly's original was on the charts for three weeks in early spring of 1970, two months before Ike and Tina crashed the party.

There may be other Sly Stone covers in the Top Forty, but I can't think of them right now. I've been really busy lately.


Gavin said...

The New Seekers (of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" fame) hit #29 in 1973 with "Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me."

Joan Jett hit #37 in 1983 with her version of "Everyday People."

MJN said...

I'm not very familiar with the historical Billboard charts, but I do remember hearing a lot of Elton John's "Pinball Wizard" on Top 40 radio in the 70's.

T. Nawrocki said...

I should have thought of "Pinball Wizard," but Elton John's version never charted in the U.S. (it went to Number Seven in the U.K.). The Who's version had gone to Number 19 in 1969.

I'm pretty sure I've never heard either of Gavin's entries.

Rob and the Family Stallone said...

Janet Jackson hit #2 in 1989 with “Rhythm Nation,” which was new lyrics over a sample of “Thank You Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin.” Arrested Development also hit #2 in 1992 with “People Everyday,” their unbelievably bad cover of “Everyday People.”

Gavin is right on about Joan Jett's "Everyday People." It is truly awesome.

T. Nawrocki said...

I don't know that I'd count "People Everyday" as a cover. They use a bit of the chorus, but that's basically it. It bears as much resemblance to "Everyday People" as "Ignition (Remix)" bears to the original "Ignition."

My favorite Pazz & Jop poll of all time was the one where Arrested Development came out on top, and Robert Christgau spent his entire essay going around asking the voters how they could have possibly voted for that.

Gavin said...

I never saw that video--thanks for the link!

It's cute that you can see Jett saying "shit," but the best part is the look she gives the camera when she sings "You can't figure out the scene I'm in." Oh, she was so right.

She did a lot of great covers, but this one's high on the list.

(BTW, I've never heard the New Seekers Who medley either--I stumbled on it when I was looking up Elton's version of "Pinball Wizard.")