Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Plant Kingdom: Crimson and Clover

Tommy James and the Shondells: Crimson and Clover


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: Crimson and Clover


Dolly Parton: Crimson and Clover


Jarvis Cocker: Black Magic (Crimson and Clover)


We can call this a title in search of a song. Or maybe a singles artist in search of an album audience. Tommy James has said that this title came to him before the 1968 song itself—crimson was his favorite color, and the clover blossom his favorite flower. I'm sharing the expanded 1969 album version, with a bit of dissonance where they tried to merge new guitar solos with previously recorded vocals.

To me, this song screams late 60s pop-rock, with its tremolo'd guitar and vocals (like Autotune will remind our children of their youth in some distant future). Well, to me it also screams junior high school, which is where I was when it was released, but it may have hit you in different times of your life. Or else you might have heard one of its many hit covers, like the 1981 version by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (who keeps the "she/her" of the original, giving it an interesting twist unusual in the early 80s). Dolly Parton's 2005 take on it features Tommy James himself on vocals. Her version also mimics that tremolo with the banjo accompaniment, clever girl! Man, I love how Dolly is never afraid to tackle any genre. Even Jarvis Cocker, the vocalist of Pulp, did a Britpop song in 2006 heavily based on its riff and vocal chorus. Bet he paid royalties, is how I judge it.

Over and over and over and over and …

…what exactly is a Shondell, anyway?

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