In Cover My World #1, we looked at artists who reshaped, reformed, and re-recorded songs originally made famous by others. Here, we will examine artists who re-visit their own works, covering themselves in new old-fashioned ways.
Suzanne Vega is taking the stripped-down approach with a series of new, mostly acoustic studio recordings of songs selected from her catalog and grouped thematically. Vol. 1 in the “Close Up” series is Love Songs, which she describes as “songs I consider love songs, although they are also songs of attraction, flirtation, and confrontation.”
Sting took the opposite tack and inflated some of his works to symphonic proportions. The Symphonicities album and tour have been met with generally positive reviews. Rob Mathes, who helped produce and arrange the album, wrote an interesting defense of the project on Amazon.
First of all, for those who think that Sting is slacking off and just trying to continually recycle existing material, be aware of this. The record was something that happened almost by accident and the whole venture was essentially another voyage of discovery for Sting, who loves Orchestral music..He did not intend to just make another record of his songs but he really was moved and galvanized by the experience of hearing the songs in a new way.
A more curious case is that of Squeeze, who re-recorded their greatest hits on Spot the Difference, where the goal is to match the original recordings as closely as possible. Glenn Tillbrook explains why in a Pollstar interview:
“In my heart of hearts I’d never dreamt of going back and doing that,” Tilbrook told Pollstar from his London studio where the band was rehearsing for its upcoming tour. “However, Universal, which controls the catalog, does not want to play ball with us at all about giving us any rights to re-release or deal with our own back catalog in any way, shape or form.
“It’s very sad for us because we’re proud of what we’ve done. It’s their business, they have their own agenda. They won’t release it themselves, but they won’t let us do it either.”
Listen > “Gypsy” — Suzanne Vega, Close-Up Vol. 1: Love Songs via NPR