(Bad) Cover Version #3: ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Phil Collins (1996)

The origin of the cover: Album track on ‘Dance Into the Light

Original recording artist: Bob Dylan

Grade: F

Imagine Phil Collins doing a cover version of a Bob Dylan track; specifically, ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Now imagine that very song appearing on an upbeat Phil Collins album which features “[a]fro-beat rhythms”, “jazzy pianos” and “uncharacteristically subtle horn sections”.

‘Dance Into The Light’ was such a bad album that the public voted it as the ninth worst ever long-player in the third edition of Colin Larkin’s ‘All-time Top 100 Albums’.

Although it’s only an album track, this cover version feels out of place on a LP – even one that’s as bad as ‘Dance Into The Light’.

It doesn’t even meet the standards required for an inclusion on a mediocre OST, despite the fact that you could expect it to feature during a sentimental scene on a film like ‘Marley & Me’ or ‘Made In America’.

That’s the sort of level that this recording aspires to be at and, even then, it fails to make the grade.

Considering the overall sound of Collins’ LP, this recording does what it sets to do: being earnest to the nth degree.

From the amateurish piano chords to the sugar coated guitar riffs, this makes you queasy to the bottom of your gut.

And, if Collins’ whines aren’t bad enough, he does the unforgivable at the halfway point.

He includes bagpipes. And not just normal bagpipes; it has SYNTHESISED BAGPIPES. Misjudged doesn’t even come into it.

The main problem with Collins’ version, though, is its lack of context.

People associate ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ as a protest song with political themes; they see the song’s meaning as being prepared for change, no matter what.

But this recording is on an album that celebrated Collins’ break-up with Genesis and his wife.

It seems self-centred and pompous for Collins to suggest that the meaning of this song could be comparable to Collins’ experiences.

The singer not only shows a complete absence of self-awareness, but it’s also one of the 1990s’ worst excesses.

Whatever this piece of narcissistic cack is meant to be, it’s excruciating and nothing more.


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