Thursday, 4 April 2013

Remake/Remodel #2: Counting Crows do Joni MItchell

Some covers are done as affectionate tributes. Some are a genuine effort to elevate a merely competent original into something extraordinary.  Some are done with the purest of intentions, but fall short of the mark.

In 2003, Counting Crows released their version of a once-pleasant, environmentally conscious Joni Mitchell song called "Big Yellow Taxi".

Despite its serious message, "Big Yellow Taxi" is one of Joni's brightest songs, with a stunning clear guitar tone and with a sunny feel to it. You can't help but smile when listening to it.

The Counting Crows version, from the outset, is all kinds of wrong.  Adam Duritz, with his Van-Morrison-on-Venice-Beach styled laconic drawl is plain awful, delivering a lifeless vocal performance that doesn't suit the song. Vanessa Carlton's guest appearance on the backing vocals are also all wrong - the chord she harmonises with her overdubbed vocal layers is far darker than the original and sticks another nail in the coffin of an already bad remake.

Add to that the producers pushing the auto-pilot button on every studio gadget available to them, and you have one stinker of a record. Apparently this was only the secret track on the band's "Hard Candy" LP. Hiding it at the end of an album is too good for a recording that should have been drowned at birth.

My verdict: Yuk. Search out the original.

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