Saturday, July 07, 2012

Covers that you might not have known are covers: "Holding Back the Years"

"Holding Back the Years"

Familiar version: Simply Red (1985)
Original version: Frantic Elevators (1982)
Bonus version: Simply Red (2005)

"Holding Back the Years" is one of my all-time favorites. I had the album Picture Book on cassette, and I used to sing the hell out of the song when I was alone in my car. I'd try to hit those bluesy sliding notes and all -- can't imagine how bad I must have sounded. But I loved it.

Anyway, I was pretty surprised to learn that the Simply Red version wasn't the first. The song was written by their lead singer, Mick Hucknall, but he actually recorded it first with his previous band, Frantic Elevators, a punk (-ish) group he helped form after attending a Sex Pistols concert.

So this is actually a sort of self-cover. It was written and sung by the same guy, but in two different bands in two different styles.

Frantic Elevators (This one is really growing on me. It's not as emotional as the familiar version, but I really like it a lot. It's hard to believe Hucknall wrote this when he was only 17.)

Simply Red (For this version, Hucknall added a chorus ["I'll keep holdin' on..."], changed to a purer blues sound, put in that lovely muted trumpet [not shown muted in the video, oddly enough], etc.)

And a bonus acoustic, Latin-rhythm version by Simply Red from their album Simplified. (Nice enough, but I like the other versions better.)

Lots of times, the most familiar version of a song isn't the original version. I write about some of these "covers that you might not have known are covers" on occasional Saturdays.

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