Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: Becoming a lover of the covers

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions

People around me who have heard me singing the old Whitney Houston hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ can blame Charles.

No, not Charles Richards, the former owner of this newspaper. I’m talking about a store I discovered in Naperville called 2nd and Charles.

This is one of the coolest stores I’ve been to.

Most the stuff is used but it’s a huge store with huge selection of CDs, DVDs, books, comic books, t-shirts, records, electronics and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. I could spend a week in the store and not be finished.

There are more than 20 of these stores located in America, but only three in the Midwest and one in Illinois. The Naperville store, located at 336 South Route 59, had been open for just 10 months according to the guy who checked me out. I mean, the guy who took my money after a purchased a CD, not a guy who was...ah forget it.

About that purchase?

I love going into a store and finding something I have never seen before and for some reason, a live David Byrne CD from Austin Texas had escaped me all of these years until my inaugural trip to the store.

The live set featured some of Byrne’s solo work and some of his Talking Heads tunes. But at the end, he throws in a pretty cool cover of Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ that makes a song I really never cared about into something I’ve been singing or whistling to for a week.

So if any developers in this area want to bring a really neat store to the south suburbs, give Charles a call.

HEADLINE – Speaking of covers…

The burning Byrne cover reminds me of some other unlikely cover combinations that work surprisingly well.

To me a good cover tune is one that is radically different and better than the original, whether I liked the original or not.

Case-in-point – pop tart Britney Spears’ “Oops!...I did it again’’ is a catchy but disposable tune that was covered by Richard Thompson. Thompson is a guitar genius whose lyrics can be twisted, edgy, haunting and occasionally creepy. His version and arrangement give the song a whole new dynamic.  Thompson has covered everything from Spears to forgotten 16th Century songs with more hits than misses.

The Clash’s punk-pop hit “Train In Vain” is an outstanding song on its own merit. But Dwight Yoakum’s hillbilly version and Annie Lennox’s gospel-tinged version of the same song actually trump the Clash’s version.

 The White Stripes’ edgy “Seven Nation Army” sounds strangely wonderful by the Oak Ridge Boys and their country-pella, Bosshoss by its yee-hah style and Marcus Collins and his bluesy approach.

Speaking of Nation, my all-time favorite desecration of a song is Queen’s rocker “One Vision’’ turned into “Geburt Einer Nation” an German-style anthem by Yugoslavian industrial snarlers Laibach.

HEAD – Ultimate cover band

While the Ramones are my favorite band and they do some great covers of 50s and 60s songs such as “Palisades Park” and “Surfin’ Bird’’ the ultimate cover band in my mind is Pearl Jam.

For those who think that Eddie Vedder and the boys nothing but a bunch of serious grungers, you might be surprised that in their concerts they let loose with some pretty incredible covers.

They tackle a whole lot of songs and styles including the Beatles (“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), Generation X (a scaled down “Gimme Some Truth”), Otis Redding (“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”), Devo (“Whip It”) plus multiple songs by the Who, Ramones and Split Enz.

Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” was never one of my faves, but Eddie’s haunting voice and a guitar is all that is needed to turn this into something special.

And to go full circle, recently Willie Nelson turned in a brilliant cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”