This site is dedicated to documenting pop songs that have been covered by another act. A covers project? No not quite. PopEatsPop is not really about famous songs being covered but rather when a pop act usually in a distant country records a song that is then swiped by another who tends to have a larger record company behind them! Any suggestions would be great! Drop a line at cartharsispopboy@hotmail.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wheel's on fire, rolling down the road, best notify my next of kin....

Bob Dylan-Wheel's On Fire Original version that was a flop
The Band-Wheel's On Fire Second attempt to make the song a hit. Rather honkeytonk. I could see Dolly Parton producing this version
Julie Driscoll-Wheels On Fire The Hit that defined a thought, idealogy, philosophy, decade, fashion and spirituality.
Bob Dylan/The Band-Wheel's On Fire
So after the hit of the Driscoll version the boys teamed together to make some money out of the Julia Driscoll cover.
The Hollies-Wheel's On Fire This one is sooooo Austin Powers it hurts. Groovy Baby YEH!
The Bryds-Wheel's On Fire Excellent Rock-Bad Attitude version. Slightly chilling/choral.
Leslie West-Wheel's On Fire If RockCher or Meatloaf ever recorded it, it would sound like this.
Golden Earing-Wheels On Fire Includes brilliant Wizard of Oz spiralling string session at the end. Very creative version
Siouxsie Sou & The Banshies-Wheel's On Fire One of the best versions of this song. A real mish-mash of genres.
June Tabor-Wheel's On Fire If Girls Aloud recorded the song it just might sound like this. Oozes energy. Slightly irish feel to it too.
Julie Driscoll-Wheels On Fire New version Brilliant new recording by Julie especially for Jennifer Saunders and Abfab
Debbie Harry-Wheels On Fire Sadly just a snippet. Would love to hear the full version someday.
Jennifer Saunders-Holding Out Of A Hero. Not only is she rather funny but the lass can sing!

To restart this blog I'm stepping back in time. Right back to Bob Dylan. Eak! Don't worry I've not gone all NME. Wheels On Fire goes down in PopEatsPop history has the most succesful non-hit that ever was. Originally recorded the Bob in the early 1960's it only came to greater attention to pop pickers when Julie Driscoll released her version in 1968. Julie Driscoll is one of those late 60's that solidifies what present day society has come to accept as a the definitive modus operandi of that decade. Her music and her style IS the 1960's. She defines. She is iconic. When Kylie steps back in time along with Emma Bunton & Austin Powers is it is Julie Driscoll they reference. Many say it is Twiggy but Twiggy was just a cheap copy of the Driscoll. Her music codified what we now associate as the funk lovin, groovy swank and hip swinging 1960's of early psycho-delica and peace signs. If you've never heard of Madam Driscoll she's the 3rd one from the left in the image above. I strongly recommend her albums for the sheer origininality and impressive capacity to cover songs that improve on the original. Take her version of Light My Fire. It is her mix of the track that has been covered by Jose Feliciano and recently Will Young and not the Doors original. Her albums are must in any cd-rack/hard-drive.

Image-wise Julia Driscoll is the amber of fashion sense. Iconic and groundbreaking, her style has been referenced by anyone trying to seek out that colourful steam arising out that decade. She IS Carnaby Street. Want some proof?

Now, to the PopEatsPop element to Wheel's On Fire. As you might have guessed, it was originally released by Bob Dylan whose version sounds very much Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. I love his original because it drags on like a stoned nomadic siren who can't remember whether her heart was lost to a spy of the USSR or a Pucci dress she saw down Kings Road. Despite this it totally bombed. It was far too ploddy. Then came another attempt by the pop group The Band. Current acts like Mika and Scissor Sisters remind me of The Band. Anyway, it bombed too but do notice how with each version the song becomes more and more electronic and poppy. Part of the failure of the song by The Band was the fact that a little British lass had recorded a stunning spunky electro-baroque version that was getting heavy airplay from the radio. That lass was the sublime Julia Driscoll. Despite being a rather dated folk Bob Dylan pop song Driscolls version reached out to the LSD boogie bunchers and teenage groovy-fabulous crowd. It then became an anthem for the time and symbolised the spirit the late 1960's.

After this version evolved into such a hit came the cash-in re-releases by Bob Dylan and the Band. Also came some fabulous versions by the Manchester band The Hollies, The Bryds and Leslie West. All tried to interupt the success of the Julia Driscoll hit by releasing their versions of the song before the Driscoll mix was sent to radio especially in the US. This failed. The Driscoll version was just too good have its thunder stolen. It was clear the significance of the song was pretty central to the experience of the 1960's and then 1970's. Further covers would come in the form of the excellent versions by Golden Earring and most recently June Tabor. Still, all these couldnt quite shake the monolithic poptastic streams of the Julie Driscoll version and/or the rock exuberance of the Bob Dylan original. It wouldnt be until the late 1980's that the song was given a new lease of life by the punk band Siouxsie & The Banshees.

Some two years later the song that symbolised free loving suddenly became an anthem for all things fabulous & Stoli/Boli. For nowadays the song is mostly known as the theme tune to the hit show Absolutely Fabulous by Jennifer Saunders. The main frame of the show follows one of its characters, Eddie, a teenager of the world of Wheel's On Fire who lives in a perpetual paradigm between the groovy 1960s that she didnt quite get and the post-structural 1990's/00 that rejects absolutely everything. Eddie pathetically purs over fashionistas that praise stuff worn by tramps while adores artists who charge millions for a bin bag. Eddie wants the chic and glamour of Driscoll that she missed first time round and not the celebrity of Big Brother or postmodern crap of uberLondon yet in her attempt to be cool she consumes it all like the rentboys of Earls Court. In her confusion that she calls her life, she follows the zeitgiest and becomes fabulously desperate. & for this we love her too. We all know Eddie would be fabulous if she just gave up and returned to the glamour presented in the world of Driscoll but sadly shes too lost in Wallpaper to realise this. Tragically for her but hilarious for us.

As Wheel's of Fire has recieved this new burst of life some of its cameo stars have recorded the song. These include Marriane Faithful and Debbie Harry. Sadly these two legends of pop have never thought to actually release their versions. But, still I've included a snippet of Debs version. So today I've included all the key versions including a new version by Driscoll herself especially for Absolutely Fabulous. Sadly the selection does not cover all versions that are out there.....for e.g the recent cover by KT Turnstall. As you will see its called a "tribute to Bob Dylan" but why pick that song? It was a forgotten Bob Dylan track. Its only famous because of Julie Driscoll and her power to make pop eat pop. This makes Wheel's On Fire a PopEatsPop classic! The huge number of versions out there highlights the fact. Also loaded today is the star of Absolutely Fabulous Jennifer Saunders and her disco take on Holding Out for A Hero....it hints to what will follow next on PopEatsPop

For now though I'll just say the next two updates will be all power ballads, big hair and Swedish superstars.


  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger J'ason D'luv said…

    Okay, just when I thought you'd lost it and PopEatsPop started looking like the back pages of Attitude, you pull this one out of your hat! Great job! I've always been fascinated by this song and it's many incarnations, too, though I didn't know about a lot of the ones you mentioned.

    I had the Siouxisie cassette with "This Wheels On Fire" on it... what a beautiful, haunting version!

    And kudos for mentioning The Hollies... when I was 17, I spent most of that year getting into "oldies" radio, and two of the songs they played on my local station that I loved were "Bus Stop" and "On A Carousel."

    Can't wait to download all of these and make a greatest hits of "Wheels On Fire" CD! :-)

    This was really good, Pinxx!

  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger J'ason D'luv said…

    Also, it seems quite fitting that the song which never really became a hit was the theme for AbFab, since Eddie never really "got it" in life.... she was pretty clueless about ever fad in every decade she stumbled through...

  • At 7:58 AM, Blogger Paul said…

    Mr Dust - i do miss your morphing face pic, i thought that was a moment of inspired genius. This was again another great post - i still think this is a stunning idea for a blog. At first i was worried you wouldn't have enough pop to eat itself, but i'm glad you knowledge knows no limits!!

  • At 12:28 PM, Blogger Robpop said…

    Back pages of Attitude. Explain Pinkie! What have I missed?

    Great little thread.

  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger PinkieDust said…

    I have no idea what you mean Robpop/J'ason? Back pages of Attitude? Please extend your thoughts on this comment for the benefit the world :)

    Thanks for your kind words. The Banshies version was damn fine.

    Bless the Eddie!

    Paul I've taken down those silly pics due to remarks from those such as J'ason...as for running out of popeatspop ideas, true the list is not long...but at the moment i've got ideas coming out of every hole of my body....

  • At 1:22 PM, Blogger Poster Girl said…

    What a way to return! It'll take me a while to work through all these songs, but wow...and I can't wait for the big hair and Swedish superstars :)

  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger Paul said…

    hehe, i wasn't suggesting that YOU would run out of ideas, just that i certainly would, so it's impressive that you are still going ;)

    I tried to email you this morning but it kept bouncing back :( Boo!

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger J'ason D'luv said…

    Oh, Pinkie, my remarks are always meant with tongue firmly planted in cheek. But just by the nature of writing them, with the tone not apparent, sometimes I may come across as.... well, face it, I only come across as fab!

    But, to clear it all up, I only had meant that you've done a quite astounding job with your original goal of the 'pop eating pop' posts, including so much cool info that really seemed to get a good reaction from readers... so, I personally was disappointed when that stopped. But hey, that's just my personal opinion. Certainly I'm no authority. All I can do is be a reader/fan of your site and offer feedback. I hope no offense was taken, because that certainly wasn't my intention :-)

    Anyway, for a good laugh, go take a look at some of my earliest posts on CR. It took me a whole year to finally get my own voice and stride. I tried a lot of different things out, and I have to admit that when I look back at those early posts, I cringe in embarrassment over a few.

  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger J'ason D'luv said…

    So that said... the back pages of Attitude... you know, the rent boy ads.

    Alright, have a wonderful day!

  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger Robpop said…

    Pinkie! What have you been up to?! You manwhore!

  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger MoogaBoo said…

    The link for the original Driscoll version is playing the Bob Dylan/ Band version... can you fix please? Thanks! Another excellent post, by the way. Julie Driscoll is fab; search out her version of I'm A Believer on YouTube. It has to be seen to be believed.

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