Digging thru some of my favorite records by Robert Palmer (before he was “Addicted to Love” era) and Bryan Ferry, it stuck me how they’d both recorded songs as covers, but didn’t up being hits for them, instead other artists covered them and had the hit song.
Palmer did the 1973 Persuaders hit “Some Guys Have all the luck” in 1982 on his “Maybe It’s Live” album. That was the first album by his I bought, and it is a favorite still. One side is studio material and the other is live. The studio side features the obscure “Si Chatouilleux” with an amazing Adrian Belew solo on it. Other notable guests on the studio side are Gary Numan, and Alan Mansfield, who went onto produced the hit A-HA Album “Hunting High and Low.” The live side features great live versions of his hits at that point including “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley,” “Every Kinda People,” and “Bad Case of Loving You.”
Back to “Some Guys…” it wasn’t until Rod the Mod Stewart did his version in 1984 that it hit the charts again. I always wondered if Palmer felt slighted that his version didn’t do more, but I think this video answers the question.
The other song in question, is Ferry’s version of the 1974 Al Green hit “Take Me To The River” which appeared on his 1978 solo LP “The Bride Stripped Bare.” I think it is foolish to consider it coincidence that Ferry’s ex-Roxy Music band-mate, Brian Eno hadn’t gotten down-wind of the cover as Ferry was recording it. Eno happened to be in the studio with the Talking Heads a few months later. The song appears on theTalking Heads’ lp “More Songs about buildings and food” which was released a few months prior to Ferry’s. This was the first taste of commercial success the Heads had, the song went to #26 on the US Billboard chart in 1979.
David Byrne has this to say about all the covers in the liner notes of a compilation CD “Coincidence or conspiracy? There were at least four cover versions of this song out at the same time: Foghat, Bryan Ferry, Levon Helm, and us. More money for Mr Green’s full gospel tabernacle church, I suppose. A song that combines teenage lust with baptism. Not equates, you understand, but throws them in the same stew, at least. A potent blend. All praise the mighty spurting Jesus.” Right then, David.
I’m a fan of both versions so we listeners are the winners too, I guess.