Thursday, February 24, 2011

Doug Anthony All Stars -- "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (1994)

You can't hide what I've seen 
And you can't hide what I've heard
But I can't stand this bein' confused
So if it's true, you'd better tell me, dear
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before?
Dear God, I heard it through the grapevine

As you've probably figured out by now, the "29 POSTS IN 28 DAYS" series consists of posts about four different versions of seven well-known songs -- plus a wild-card post about a Black Eyed Peas song for Super Bowl Sunday.

It wasn't easy choosing exactly four different versions of each of these seven songs.  For some of the songs -- "Season of the Witch," for example -- the problem was choosing from among a lot of really good (and quite diverse) covers. 

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" presented the opposite problem.  I had two great versions of the song (the Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival versions), a third that was pretty good and historically significant (Gladys Knight and the Pips), but no obvious selection for the fourth spot. 

Smokey and the Miracles
I thought about using the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recording of the song, which was actually the original version -- although it was not released until the Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye versions had become big hits.  The Temptations also recorded the song.  But I didn't want three Motown versions of "Grapevine" -- I thought two was enough.
I considered and rejected a number of other recordings.  Former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald has done the song, but since I had rejected a couple of authentic Motown recordings, it wouldn't have made much sense to choose one by a Motown wannabe.  The Slits, an all-female British punk band, did a reggae-ish version that isn't bad.

Amy Winehouse -- what a train wreck she is -- sang the song on television, and sang it very badly if you ask me.  Italian guitar virtuoso Antonio Forcione recorded "Grapevine," but this blog is titled 2 or 3 lines, and there are no lines in an instrumental recording.  Last but not least, there's a version by an Australian alternative rock band called Birds of Tokyo.  (I don't really recommend it.)

I was about to give up and just throw in an extra version of "I Touch Myself" -- after all, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of cover versions of that song by slutty chicks to choose from.  But at the very last minute, I stumbled across a YouTube video of the Doug Anthony All Stars -- a/k/a "DAAS" -- performing "Grapevine."
I had never heard of DAAS, and I'm willing to wager you haven't either.  It turns out that DAAS got their start as buskers in Australia in 1984, hit it big in 1987 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the world's largest theatrical festival -- in 2009, this festival featured an average of 1300 performances per day over its 25-day run), and then moved back to Australia and became major television stars in 1989.  The group split up in 1994.

The Doug Anthony All Stars ("DAAS")
DAAS were in-your-face performers.  One critic described their style as "[pushing] the boundaries of humour and good taste to their absolute limits."  They recorded songs like "Commies for Christ," "I Want to Spill the Blood of a Hippy," and one that is far, far worse than those two. 

This last song is truly tasteless and about as offensive as a song can possibly be.  I don't know what's worse -- the song's lyrics, or the light-hearted manner in which they perform it.  If you are easily offended, DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO.  In fact, even if you aren't easily offended, DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO.  I guess you should watch this video only if it is pretty much impossible to offend you.

Remember, these guys started out as street performers -- to make a living doing that, you have to be willing to do just about anything to get the attention of passers-by.  And singing a song about have sex with man's best friend is guaranteed to do that.

As is doing an impeccably harmonized version of a classic Motown song.  Believe it or not, DAAS sang beautiful three-part harmony.  

The first video is actually pretty funny, but that's not the main reason I included it in this post.  I included it because the contrast between the two videos is so startling.

Here's a link you can use to order the Doug Anthony All Stars' recording of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" from iTunes:

Heard It Through the Grapevine - DAAS: the LAST Concert

Here's a link to use if you prefer Amazon:

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