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1:30 p.m. - March 06, 2008
Remake? Remodel?
A thought just passed through my noggin as I was listening to "21st Century (Digital Boy)" by Bad Religion.

How many other bands have basically taken a song and called "do-over" after it's been recorded and distributed once?

Yes, that Bad Religion tune was made semi-famous on their Stranger Than Fiction album, when they had a cultural cache and MTV actually showed their videos.

But it was originally done on Against The Grain, and I recently bought THAT version.

The versions are pretty much identical in arrangement. The earlier one is rawer and grittier, and the latter is more polished. But both are works of quality and distinction.

Many bands have 'remade' their hits to cash in. Not counting the rip-off packages that pollute iTunes, bands like Modern English have come back years after their moment in the sun, and the only thing they can do is remake their old tune to 'modernize' it.

Check out the 'updated' version of "I Melt With You", if you dare. Ick.

There have been a lot of cases where bands have re-recorded songs that were on independently released singles, EPs or albums for their 'proper' debuts.

REM did that with "Radio Free Europe" and "Gardening At Night", for example.

At times, bands are forced to. When Styx was putting together a hits package, they couldn't get Wooden Nickel records to license the original "Lady", so they basically re-created it down to the note, with the only noticeable difference to non-Styx ears being the backing vocals, since Tommy Shaw was in the band instead of John Curulewski.

But it's been rare for an established band like Bad Religion to call 'do-over' on a song, and it not being a live album or a remix.

(I know Zappa did that a lot, but that was his motif. Conceptual continuity and all that.)

Here are some examples that I remember:

Willin' - Little Feat. This song appeared in two remarkably different versions on the first and second Little Feat albums. The version on the debut album is shorter and is more sparse, like its more of a demo than anything. The version on Sailin' Shoes is more in line with how every one remembers it, and you all sing along to it.

Let It Be, Get Back - The Beatles. Many times, of course, in the rock era, singles were truncated versions of album tracks but had the same arrangement for the most part. On these songs, the singles are a completely different take than the album version. Some of that no doubt has to do with the mess that became the Let It Be album, but still they're both very distinct and different takes on the single and the album.

Why? - The Byrds. This song was the b-side to "Eight Miles High" and was a prime example of 'raga-rock'. I guess they were short of material, or Roger McGuinn had another idea, or something, because they remade the song for Younger Than Yesterday in more of a rock viewpoint. It's still a great song, but one wonders why they just didn't use the 45 version since a remake was relatively unnecessary.

And there, my mind's a blank. Anyone have any other examples?

(And no, I'm not counting stuff on concept albums where themes are repeated over and over again...)


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