Tuesday 21 May 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 78. Bad cover versions and storylines that died.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone

Up in the sky!

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

Is it a stray UAP looking to get included in a Pentagon investigation?

No. It's the sky. It's very popular and there's a lot of it about.

And you know what else there's a lot of?

This feature. Now in its 78th instalment and going strong.

"But, surely," you may declare, "Surely, by now, every topic that could possibly spring from the mind of a sane man has been covered!"

But has it?

I posit that, contrary to mainstream scientific thought, there are even more than 77 things in the world - and here's where we find out if it's true because what gets talked about on here today depends on what you post in the enclosed comments section.

Therefore, whatever subject it is you want to discuss, jot it down below and we'll see just where the conversation takes us.


Anonymous said...

No topic yet?
Ok, well. I was just checking out what's on 'The Devil Rides In', a new compilation of 'Satanic' oldies (1967-72) coming out in a month or two, and was amazed to find that 60s pop star Sandie Shaw did a version of 'Sympathy for the Devil' back in the day -


It is of course terrible - possibly even worse than her later record with the Smiths - and you have to wonder what she or her management were thinking.
For some reason it doesn't exert the kind of fascination you get with, say, William Shatner's 'Mr Tambourine Man' from the previous year, which emerges out of the other side of terrible and becomes curiously listenable -


So how about that for a topic? The cover version.
Any thoughts, Steve Does Comics peeps? I'm interested in the awful, but feel free to come up with good ones too.


dangermash said...

It's all very quiet here and I don't want Steve to feel like he's singing to an empty room, so I'll just throw something into the ring.

This week's SMCW will include those three panels that show Mary Jane tarted up in a short skirt and the ginchy new hairdo and hanging around on street corners. Jazzy Johnny suggesting she might be on the game. Stan got wind of this and dropped her from the strip for a couple of years, bringing her back with the old hairdo and hoping everyone would forget those panels.

Here's my conversation starter. Can people remember other examples of the initial germinations of storylines that never took root? Maybe because there was a change in writer, maybe because of an editorial decision, whatever.

Another I can think of is one in a very early X Men comic (one of the first five issues?) where Professor X is lighting a pipe and pondering to himself about how he has the hots for Marvel Girl.

Feel free to come in with better conversation topics. Whenever there's a slow start like this and someone kicks off a conversation, someone else who hasn't seen it always seems to come up with something better that ends up taking off.

Anonymous said...

You wait for a Speak Your Brain subject, and two come at the same time...


dangermash said...

Happens every time Sean.

As for covers, you really can't beat a Stones cover. Always a treat if one comes up at a concert. I've treated myself to two albums of Stones covers this year: Stoned Side Of The Mule by Gov't Mule and Stoned Cold Country which has C&W covers by loads of different artists. Both work for me.

I can't find any Shatner Stones covers unfortunately.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash and Sean, thanks for the topics.

Sean, I quite like that Sandie Shaw record. It has a vigour to it that I appreciate.

The first awful cover version that leaps to my mind is the Nolans' stab at the Smiths' Panic.


Dangermash, as a fan of Supergirl, the first example that leaps to my mind is the mystery of Supergirl's flatmate in issue #1 of her 1970s comic. The issue makes a whole big deal of it and how important it's going to be.

And then there's never any mention of it - or her - again.

Anonymous said...

Cover versions? M.P. introduced us to Pat Benatar's excellent Wuthering Heights, which is at least as good as the original! As regards others, my brain's still percolating...

Non-follow ups. In Chris Claremont origin stories(or not long after), characters refer back to some mysterious happening, in their past, whereby they vowed to never take a human life. This happened with Captain Britain, and in that Storm/Ororo origin story (with the Black Panther?), in the Spidey/Red Sonja UK Team-up Summer Spesh, as the "undercard" story. There's a third (Claremont) superhero instance of this, too - but for now it eludes me. In none of these origins, do I ever recall a later explanation of why those heroes vowed to never take a human life. That 3rd example was the mystery lady in Kull (maybe not Claremont for that one?) I know Kull's had a mystery lady in almost every tale - this is his final mystery lady.


Anonymous said...

Sean, a week or so ago you and I had an exchange about something or other and you said ‘But maybe that would be better as a discussion topic for ‘Speak Your Brain’ and I thought ‘ooh yes, good idea, I’ll try to remember that’ but now, for the life of me, I can’t recall what we were talking about….dammit….

But meanwhile — Covers, good and bad:

I liked Pat Benatar’s’ version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ for years before I’d ever even heard of Kate Bush. I might get pelted with rubbish for saying this, but I find Kate’s original to be almost painful to listen to.

Joan Jett’s cover of ‘Dirty Deeds’ is pretty good but I do like the original much better.

Some of the Beatles covers on the SGT PEPPER movie soundtrack are actually listenable (‘Because’ by Alice Cooper is nice and sinister) but of course they’re mostly terrible. Likewise the weird-ass ALL THIS AND WORLD WAR II soundtrack has some…uh…‘interesting’ interpretations of Beatles songs by people like Peter Gabriel and Roy Wood. I’m one of the dozens of people who actually saw that thing in a movie theatre (but my friends and I did walk out about half-way through it).

Speaking of Roy Wood, I like The Move and ELO versions of ‘Do Ya’ almost equally. Some people dig Ace Frehley’s cover of it, but I’m not one of ‘em. I do like his covers of ‘Back in the New York Groove ‘ and ‘2000 Man’.

I love The Dickies’ punked-up ‘Nights in White Satin’.

Gosh, I’m having a hard time coming up with truly awful covers. Gonna have to give it some more thought….

As for dangermash’s question, I’ve always been partial to that WTF moment in the last issue of Steve Englehart’s DR. STRANGE run, where Clea gets it on with Ben Franklin and then when Marv Wolfman takes over he’s immediately all ‘NOPE NOPE NOPE, that did NOT happen, no sir, no way, it was a dream or a hallucination or something’.

But crazy as that was, Professor X having ‘those’ kinds of feelings for Jean really takes the prize for story kernels that didn’t sprout (and what the HELL was Stan thinking anyway).


McSCOTTY said...

Worst cover versions: Fallout Boy's version of Joy Divisions classic " Love will tear us apart " is abysmal. I remember hearing Shatners "Lucy in the sky with diamomds, it simply defies definition, but is better than Fallout Boys cover..

Best cover versions: Bowies version of Tom Verlaines "Kingdom Come" is brilliamt. The Johnny Cash cover of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt" would bring a tear to a glass eye.

I can't think of any comic book storyline that fizzled out sorry.

Colin Jones said...

Some story ideas that went nowhere include Ben Grimm having the hots for Sue Storm in the early FF and a potential rivalry between Ben and Reed for Sue's affections. Also when Alicia Masters first appears she is supposed to be the spitting image of Sue but this was never mentioned again. Dr Strange looked oriental in his first story but that idea got dropped pretty quickly and the early Hulk spoke like Ben Grimm.

My all-time favourite cover version is Blondie's The Tide Is High but some other great covers include:

Seasons In The Sun - Terry Jacks
Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft - Carpenters
Rivers Of Babylon - Boney M
Always On My Mind - Pet Shop Boys
Fields Of Gold - Eva Cassidy (originally by Sting)
Like An Angel Passing Through My Room - Madonna (originally by ABBA)

The worst cover I've heard in recent years was Cliff Richard's version of When A Child Is Born by Johnny Mathis. Poor old Cliff is over 80 now and he can't sing anymore so this version was dreadful anyway but the spoken bit in the middle which was embarrassing in the original version is absolutely vomit-inducing in Cliff's remake.

Redartz said...

Cover versions, eh? Colin named some of my favorites, but there are plenty to consider.

One biggie is "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede; much more fun than B.J. Thomas' original. "Ooooga chagga" forever!

b.t. mentioned some Beatles covers; so how about "Tomorrow Never Knows" by Phil Collins? A pretty solid version. And in the one case where I prefer a cover to a Beatle original: Elton John's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". Fabulous version (which of course, had John helping out).

One more cool cover, that I just this week discovered: picked up a cd at a yard sale the other day, "The Who- BBC Sessions". It contains a cover of Martha and the Vandella's "Dancing in the Streets" which sounds pretty good.

As to the original topic, a poor cover version- I'd submit just about any of Michael Bolton's efforts.

Turning to the question about abandoned storylines- none specifically come to mind,so I'll go with one that was promoted but never appeared- "The TV Terror" featuring Spider-Man. It was advertised as an upcoming tale in what would have been the big "Spectacular Spider-Man " magazine #3 from 1968. Unfortunately that book was scrapped after the classic second issue with the Green Goblin. Always wondered what that story might have entailed...

Anonymous said...


Wow. I thought was pretty much across anything Smiths related but that Nolans’ cover was awful.

I thought Marc Almond’s covers of Jacky and Days of Pearly Spencer (with the additional verse he added and the Trois Chansons de Bilitis intro) were both excellent. In fact I’m going to listen to the Tenement Symphony album now.


Anonymous said...

Redartz, I agree with you about ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ but I prefer the B.J. Thomas original of ‘Hooked on a Feeling’. And since you brought up Martha and the Vandellas, I’ve always thought the Mick Jagger/ David Bowie cover of ‘Dancing In the Streets’ really should be better than it is.

The Bangles’ cover of ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ is pretty great. Motley Crue’s cover of ‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room’ is not.


dangermash said...

Ok. I've had this on this afternoon while painting and have just discovered it’s a cover. A strong candidate for the smashing the original out of the park award.

To really appreciate it, you need to check the Elvis rockabilly version first:

And then check out Tom Jones and James Dean Bradfield:

Anonymous said...

Dangermash - Tom Jones is baring his teeth, like a great silverback - whilst the other guy looks like he doesn't have any teeth at all!


Anonymous said...

What does “on the game” mean?

Charlie the Naive

Anonymous said...

Charlie digs Jam Troniks’ version of Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise” way more.

Coincidentally Charlie heard it first on the UK’s “Now that’s what I call music” lol.

Anonymous said...

It’s hard to write this but, by in large, Charlie prefers the original “Motown” versions to the covers done by the Beatles e.g., Roll Over Beethoven.

dangermash said...

On the game = working as a prostitute

DM the Sophisticated

Anonymous said...

Thanks DM!! Now that Charlie understands, he is having a serious recollection of seeing Hooker MJ the first time, presumably in a Marvel Tales reprint and thinking just that!!!

Anonymous said...

dangermash, re: storylines that never took root. I feel like I should come up with one involving Swamp Thing (geddit?)... but instead I shall go for early developments in the all-new, all-different X-Men series.

Firstly, theres the alien super-villain Eric the Red. Why was he dressed up in Cyclops' Steranko-era s&m party outfit, and have the same name? What was that that all about? It seemed like some connection must have been intended, yet it was never explained.
My suspicion is that Chris Claremont, the master of the slow burn sub-plot that went on for so long even he forgot about it just, er... forgot about it.

Also back then - when the X-Men were captured by the sentinels around #97 or 98 - there was a mention of Wolverine not being human, which went nowhere.
Apparently - I read this much later on the internet - the original idea was to reveal the character was actually a highly evolved wolverine. But Stan Lee heard about it and thought that was sick so exercised a veto. Fair enough really, as that would have been the most idiotic story idea in that X-Men era (not counting having leprechauns turn up, obviously).


Colin Jones said...

Wasn't Spiderwoman originally meant to be an evolved spider?

The UK general election will be held on July 4th! Are we excited??

Cue tumbleweeds and chirping crickets...

Anonymous said...

Steve, I am impressed by your musical erudition - if not exactly taste(; - as I hadn't heard of the Nolans doing 'Panic'.
It is bad, although fair play to them for giving it a go. I mean, its not as if Morrissey and the boys would ever have considered doing 'I'm In the Mood for Dancing'. Which is just as well, as frankly that doesn't bear thinking about.


Anonymous said...

Colin, she was supposed to be an evolved spider. At first, anyway.
Courtesy of the High Evolutionary? I forget.
I think some editor at Marvel decided they should go in a different direction.
Nuts! it would have been interesting. In a weird way. But Marvel wasn't Atlas/Seaboard, where the protagonists are just going around eating people, for cryin' out loud.


Anonymous said...

On another note...
Still pissed off about those leprechauns showing up in comics, eh, Sean?
The problem with you Irish is you killed off all the snakes.
They were the only thing keeping the leprechaun population down.

You guys need to introduce a new predator into the ecosystem.
Might I suggest coyotes.
They get the job done.


Anonymous said...

Predators, M.P.? We didn't need coyotes, we had the Brits.


Matthew McKinnon said...

The only dangling plot-thread I can think of is that weird page at the end of Captain Britain in Daredevils 4, where Arcade is on the phone to Vixen. Nothing much came of that, as the strip did a massive and very welcome swerve the next month.

I guess you could argue Vixen did come into play a bit later but it feels strange.

Cover versions:
George Michael's cover of New Order's 'True Faith' is perplexingly bad. But then pretty much all covers of New Order songs are pretty duff in my opinion. Except possibly Lonelady doing 'Cries & Whispers'.

I love Aretha Franklin's version of 'What A Fool Believes' more than the Doobie Brothers original.

Anonymous said...

Sean - Colin normally flags up Radio 4 shows. However, I've just noticed a show discussing the Irish language. Links between the ancient Islamic word Shamrakh & the Irish word Seamrog (Shamrock)?



dangermash said...

O, just remembered the final panel of the final issue if Silver Surfer Series 1, the only issue pencilled by Kirby and not John Buscema where he's so pissed off bout how he’s been treated that he vows revenge in the while human race. Did Marvel fill in the missing story at some point years later? Can’t remember.

Anonymous said...

Do we know why Danny Yates had to die?

Colin Jones said...

Phillip and Sean, that programme about the Irish language is WORD OF MOUTH presented by Michael Rosen at 3.30pm today. I only noticed it a few minutes ago when I was looking at Radio 4's schedule for today.

There are famously no snakes in Ireland but there are also no ants in Iceland.

Another story that sort of went nowhere was when Reed Richards persuaded Galactus to move to the Negative Zone and eat the planets there instead. Galactus initially agreed then returned to our own universe later for reasons I can't recall.

Anonymous said...

Dangermash, Kirby’s full-page Screaming Silver Surfer is the Elephant In The Room that I can’t believe none of us remembered until just now. Well done!

I don’t know if anyone ever went back and told that particular Untold Story, but they did eventually explain how the Surfer could have been at Mar-Vell’s funeral on Titan when his Galactus-imposed barrier was still in place. Because that question just HAD to be answered.


Anonymous said...

b.t., I think that earlier exchange that could have been a Speak Your Brain you were going on about was something to do with text in comics. Related to Affable Al Moore's early stuff, or possibly Dauntless Don McGregor.
Maybe next Tuesday (I'll bet everyone can't wait ;)...

Anyway, most questionable cover version: the Beach Boys doing Charles Manson's 'Cease to Exist' -


Not terrible, but you know. Wtf were they thinking?


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Phillip. As I understand things, the Irish traded with north Africa during the so-called dark ages, and there's evidence of a Moorish presence in the south west -

Its hard to find out much about the subject though, so I will check out the programme.
I hope it's better than that tv one on the Beeb with Dan Snow that you mentioned a while back! I mean, no-one in Ireland could read or write before St Patrick turned up... ffs, do people really believe nonsense like that?


Steve W. said...

Anon, I think that, like all things Danny Yates related, it can only be viewed as a mystery.