The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Should Some Things Stay As They Are? (#BOTB results)


Is It Almost Sacrilege to Tamper with Tradition?

       If it were up to some folks, things would always stay the same.  Over the decades we've seen updates on Shakespeare, Beethoven, and even the Bible.  Some might argue when a story is a good enough one then it doesn't matter how you tell it as long as you tell it true.  Others might bemoan the idea of taking a beloved classic and putting a different twist on it.   Beethoven's Fifth Symphony disco or rock style?   Really?   But actually it did kind of work didn't it?

        There might be some musical works that might be better not tampered with.  Do we want to hear a rock version of Debussy's "Claire de Lune" or an up-tempo jazzed up version of Schubert's "Ave Maria"?   I'm not sure, but I won't pass judgement until I hear a well done version of either if that ever happens.

        The recent mash-ups of 19th century novels such as Pride and Prejudice with an inclusion of zombies and other popular literary works done in similar ways were fun (though I've heard the film version of PP&Zombies wasn't so great), but probably more novelty than any real literary breakthrough.    

        We've come to a time where almost anything goes when it comes to the arts--or it's at least worth giving the change up a try.  Jazz and rock  have probably broken more musical barriers then any other music form, but musical artists in all genres have explored the possibilities of what can be done with music.  The question for some still remains--should you mess with a musical work that was outstanding in its original incarnation?






Sigmund Romberg's Musical Masterpiece Goes to Battle

       My most recent Battle of the Bands contest put a sultry 1930's style jazz version of "Lover, Come Back to Me" that was closer to its intended light opera style up against a swinging upbeat big band jazz arrangement from the fifties.   Either way you look at at the song works well in both styles.  After all, a darn good song is a good song no matter how you play it.

         The voting bore this out well I think.  Each version had its fans which resulted in a nail-biter of a musical battle.   There were turn-offs as well as big pluses to each version depending on the ears of the beholders.  Some preferred the energy of Brenda Lee while others found her version "Las Vegasy", but most agreed she did a good job.  Other listeners felt that Tamar Korn and Gaucho captured the essence of a musical era with their slowed down version.

         In the end I was left with--are you ready?--a tie!  What this means is that I get to break the tie with my vote for my favorite.  I've got to go with that forlorn sound of Gaucho which seems more appropriate to the lyrical content of the song.  The lyrics work for either style, but to me it's more of a sad song about the singer yearning for a lost lover.  And I loved that smoky speakeasy sound of the jazz ensemble.   This was some wonderful music.

         This made for a great battle and kind of a tiring one.  After that I need a slow song to wind me down.

Final Vote Tally

Gaucho           14

Brenda Lee     13



Next Battle Will Be Next Friday July 1st!

          Hopefully you'll enjoy this next Battle of the Bands post.  Between now and then I'll have a couple of posts about looking back and reliving old memories.  My previous Battle may have dealt with an old song in old styles, but my next Battle will consist of two different not as old songs that were released in the 80's a couple of years apart.   The songs will deal with the topic of living in the past and neither one is by Jethro Tull.   Both song artists have ties to one another.   One artist became a huge star while the other remained only a regional favorite.  You're free to take a stab at guessing any part of this upcoming battle or you can just wait for the fun to begin next Friday.  Please don't miss this one!

           Do you enjoy twists on musical classics?   What is your favorite re-imagining of a popular literary work?    Would you prefer that something that works well not be tampered with?  

45 comments:

  1. Close one.
    Hey, some more recent music for the next one? Cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, more recent music, but maybe not recent enough for your tastes.

      Lee

      Delete
  2. I think experimentation is a good thing. One will never know if one doesn't try. I like the classics in their original version and have also enjoyed some that have been taken into a different realm. Interesting post, Arlee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicola, I agree that experimentation can be a good thing, but it can fail as well. Art is fair game for experimentation, but some things are more malleable than others.

      Lee

      Delete
  3. Hi, Lee!

    I keep and open mind and don't shy away from remakes of classics, but I haven't found many that equal or surpass the original. Notable exceptions are the 1951 and 1982 versions of the movie The Thing. Both are superb. I haven't seen the 2011 remake.

    I can't help thinking back to the movie colorization craze. Taking a classic black and white film and colorizing it might entice finicky younger audiences to watch it, but rarely does it make the film better. More often it weakens the movie's impact. Such is the case in the film noir genre and classic horror movies like Geo. A. Romero's original Night of the Living Dead. It simply isn't as scary in color.

    YouTube is loaded with remixes of hits in every category of music, some of them so radical that you don't even recognize the song. Sifting through all of them is time consuming and rarely have I found a gem.

    The outcome of your battle surprises me because I didn't think Brenda Lee would get very many votes in this particular match-up. I am amazed how many BOTB hosts are able to stage close contests and I congratulate you on doing it this round. Knowing your taste I predicted that your ears would match mine this time and that you would vote for Gaucho. I am delighted that it came down to a tie-breaker.

    Thanks, good buddy Lee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shady, films like those in the noir genre should never be colorized, but some films like musicals work better in color in my opinion. I much prefer the colorized version of Yankee Doodle Dandy for example. The original Night of the Living Dead was mostly scary because of the ominous black and white--you are so right about that one.

      Gaucho's version of Lover is simply incredible in my view though Lee's version was certainly fine.

      Lee

      Delete
  4. Hi Lee,
    I vote to shake things up, but sometimes it is hard to compete with the original. Memories are forged around music, film, etc and sometimes no matter how brilliant the newer version is we prefer the tried and true~ Great question. I hope life is treating you kindly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ella, it can be very difficult to win me over when I am endeared to an original version. Life has been treating me well for the most part.

      Lee

      Delete
  5. I personally think calssical music should remain has the composser inteded, having been trained as a classical pianist early on in my life. Close voting on the last BOTB, I lost this one.
    Take care.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne, the classics are so great in themselves that I think it would be rare to improve on them.

      Lee

      Delete
  6. I guess I usually think the original is better for the original, but I like adaptations that are a twist--music done in a different genre can be fantastic. I love, for instance, the metal versions or Sound of Silence and Careless Whisper--the first originally folk, the second pop. And the mash-ups are often fabulous. Movies though? Typically not a fan of remakes. (but I do like some movies that take inspiration from, rather than trying to be just a current version of those old classic stories)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hart, I've heard many pop and other modern music remakes that are equal or better to the originals so I agree with you on that point. Remakes of good movies are rarely better--more effects laden perhaps, but not often better.

      Lee

      Delete
  7. Breaking a tie is always fun and I'm glad we are in agreement on this one. ☺ Yes, new twists on old classics are interesting. As you know, I featured Beethoven's 5th in a recent BOTB and one version was surf guitar.You mentioned "Claire de Lune" and I went looking for a rock version. Slim pickins', but there's THIS and also this GYPSY GUITAR version. Are you thinking of this song for your next battle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie D, I thought Beethoven's 5th worked well with updated versions--no replacements for the orginial--but fun updates. The first "Claire de Lune" version that you linked to stayed true to the original while the second mostly riffed on a reference to the original--interesting for what it was, but hard to call a remake. Still both were nice to listen to.

      No, I haven't planned on using "Claire de Lune" in any upcoming Battle, but I do have a couple of similar type compositions in my someday line-up.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Here's a fun take: Claire de Lune, Surf Rock Version

      Delete
    3. Debbie D, The surf version is interesting and not unpleasant, but it loses the wistful quality of the original. It's a daring experiment that might lead fans of that music to explore the original source of the music.

      Thanks for another experimental take on one of my favorite pieces of music.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. If it's not working for you,even if just because of boredom, change is the answer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew, that can be one reasonable argument. Though the audience might not agree so the experiment in change might not be so popular. We don't know until we try what's working in our own heads.

      Lee

      Delete
  9. I like some twists, but some aren't so catching for me. It's like Boyz In The Hood is completely different from the original and, in my opinion, much better. The sound is at odds with the lyrics, which makes it funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Loni, yeah, that's the thing about modern pop music--you can really take it all over the place for different effects. I don't like rap for the most part, but the remake is kind of funny, but also easier on my ears. This is change that I can deal better with.

      Lee

      Delete
  10. Re-imagingings work best, I think, when it's clear the artist has respect for the original and is paying homage to it instead of trying to update or retell it for the sole purpose of modernization. Take, for example, the Akira Kurosawa films Ran and Throne of Blood, which respectively re-tell King Lear and Macbeth in feudal Japan. Those stories work well because of respect for the source material.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carrie-Anne, respect for the original is important in making a revision work. I have liked certain modernizations such as Romeo + Juliet. Offhand, I can't think of other re-imaginings like you're talking about, but I get what you're saying.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Excellent Battle, LEE. In my book (as I mentioned to Michele), this scenario is "The Perfect BOTB contest". The BOTBer gets to decide the winner. I've had several of those and I dig 'em.

      >>... The recent mash-ups of 19th century novels such as Pride and Prejudice with an inclusion of zombies and other popular literary works done in similar ways were fun, but probably more novelty than any real literary breakthrough.

      Ha!-Ha! Ya think?

      Here's another Rock twist / adaptation of 'Claire de Lune':

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sZ749y2dZU

      I liked it when I was a teenager. Today? I'll pass.

      ~ D-FensDogG

      Delete
    3. STMcC, When I saw your comment on Michele's site last night I thought it was ironic that you had said very much the same thing I had written in my prescheduled post. It is a pretty perfect scenario as it shows a good match up.

      The intro of the Styx song is pretty true to the original though they don't include the dissonance that I find especially appealing. I still like this medley okay, but for my choice I'd go with a presentation of the original either on piano or with an orchestra.

      Lee

      Delete
    4. You might like this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9YF64svUFw

      I was probably the only person at my high school who knew who STYX were. The first Rock concert I ever attended was Styx at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. They opened for Journey, but I went to see Styx.

      There weren't even any Styx T-shirts available at that time, so I silk-screened my own and wore it often to high school. The other kids were forever asking me: "What is St-iii-ks?"

      Ironically, today, I HATE them!!! It was a terrible band but I was yung 'n' stoopid.

      Their earliest stuffs (like the song I posted here) are still somewhat tolerable, but at the point where they were hugely popular, they were AWFUL! I'm literally embarrassed that I ever loved them, let alone that they were my favorite band for 3 or 4 years.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    5. STMcC, interesting juxtaposition of the fugue and the Styx song. I don't recall this song, but I never had many Styx albums and the band was not something many, if any, of my friends listened to either. I always liked there music when I heard it, but not enough to add many of their albums to my collection. I don't think I have anything by them on CD. But I enjoy hearing their songs when they are playing--maybe because I never got over-saturated with listening to them. This song you linked to is fine, but I'm not rushing to buy the album. But I don't hate their music either.

      Lee

      Delete
    6. I really can't stand Dennis DeYoung's high-pitched, girlie voice. That's one of the big turnoffs for me.

      But I got into them so early that I was attracted to those first few albums which were fairly adventurous. This song, for instance, comes from just their second album which went mostly unnoticed even though it did include their first big hit 'LADY'.

      But it didn't take long for them to devolve into totally boring, very formulaic "hit song arena Rock" junk. You know, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-verse-chorus-fade out.

      I don't even mind that old formula provided I like the singer's voice and/or the song has something interesting to say. But neither of those were the case for me when it came to Styx.

      ~ D-FensDogG

      Delete
  11. Whoa, Lee — looks like you had one heck of a battle! So sorry I missed it... The 15th came and went without me noticing (yeah, it's been kind of hectic here), but I've begun prepping the next one, for Jul 1st, and will preschedule it as soon as it's ready to avoid forgetfulness impinging on my bloggy-social life :D

    Good questions you pose here... Should tradition be inviolable? And, if so, when? And in which measure? I think change is a good thing. Innovation is, after all, as part of our nature as breathing. Does it always work? No. Does that mean we need to stop trying? Absolutely not. Having said that, and in the interest of full disclosure, let me be the first to admit that I tend to *hate* covers of old favorites of mine :D (Change is necessary... but that doesn't mean it comes easy ;) )

    Great post, Lee!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guilie, look forward to your return to BOTB.

      Change can be good just as it can sometimes be bad. I often dislike covers that really change things up, but sometimes they surprise me.

      Lee

      Delete
  12. Classical music should be left alone. If it is re-worked, it will be done by someone without understanding the history and presence that went into the composition. Whoever messes with classics are looking purely at what can be fit in, and shoved out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan K., the works are often best left unchanged, however prominent melodies have often been lifted to create some pretty good songs. I don't mind when that happens if something decent comes from it.

      Lee

      Delete
  13. I admit that I liked Walter Murphy's Beethoven's Fifth. And ELO's Roll Over Beethoven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JoJo, Beethoven's 5th has had several reworkings that were quite popular therefore I'd consider them to be successes.

      Lee

      Delete
  14. I am one who always loves the original and there have been some cases where I am bothered by the remix although I can't think of one right now. I don't care for showcasing a great piece of classical music like Beethoven's 9th while seeing Bruce Willis, shirtless, killing a whole bunch of bad men. I also wish Hollyood would stop showing only evil people loving classical music...seems to happen a lot but, on the whole, I like to hear a new mix. One has to keep ones mind open

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birgit, I think films usually use the classical musical stereotype when they are referring to a villain with refine intellectual tastes. I guess this creates a sense of irony perhaps or just intelligence. Hollywood does have a knack for associating classical music listening with a people who are weird or deviant in some sense, however the filmmakers don't seem to mind using this style of music in the soundtrack to create an air of gravitas or grandiosity. I think they probably go along with the typical public perception of what classical music conveys. Stereotyping I would call it.

      Lee

      Delete
  15. Congrats on a great battle! Tie-breakers are fun and I'm glad that Gaucho won. I'm surprised Brenda Lee got so many votes. It's interesting, people's differences in preference.
    Re: changing up a classic: I usually prefer the original but some remakes have been remarkable. The rock version of Beethoven's Fifth was super fun and sure got a ton of airplay. Shady brought up a good point re: the colonizations of Black & White films. I'm a big fan of the B&W era, especially film noir. What makes the tension and suspense in film noir so riveting is the work of shadows and the plays with light, which you just can't achieve with color. But I see your point about color improving some genres, such as the musical.
    Interesting post.
    Congrats again on a nail-biter battle!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michele, I'm more surprised that Brenda Lee didn't win by a significant margin. Shows that our voters have some good musical taste--not that Lee's version wasn't tasteful.

      Many films are enhanced by the starkness of shadows and light found in B & W filmmaking. Colorizing some films would cheapen them in a sense and make them like a run of the mill television drama.

      Lee

      Delete
  16. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for your next battle. You always keep me guessing.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, some people might guess one of the songs I'll be using, but the other is obscure to most people.

      Lee

      Delete
  17. I hardly ever read updated versions of classic novels, especially those that drag vampires (not my favorite thing) into the story. Music, however, is different -- I love to hear new variations on old tunes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia, I only read P,P,& Zombies but it's unlikely that I would read other of these mash-ups. Music is meant for variation and adding an artist's own touch.

      Lee

      Delete
  18. I don't believe literary works, historical or otherwise, should ever be altered.
    Music is different. Though there are many songs I'd never want changed, I've actually enjoyed a surprising amount of new versions. For instance, Pearl Jam did an amazing job with 'Last Kiss' and the "Over the Rainbow' medley by IZ easily surpassed the classic version by Judy Garland, but I think they both deserve a place on the shelf of fame.
    That was a close battle, huh? No wonder it was tiring! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diedre, my battle was back and forth right up to the end--a real horse race.

      Lee

      Delete
  19. It was a nice battle, even if I was on the losing side. I think in my battles, I have decided to stop voting unless a vote is needed to break a tie. As a mentioned in a previous comment, it's entirely possible this could have gone the other way, or I could have gone for the winner, depending on my mood. Looking forward to your July 1st battle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeffrey, I don't see it as that you were on the losing side since it was a tie before my vote. Both versions were winners.

      Lee

      Delete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee