(Bad) Cover Version #6: ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ by Russ Abbot (1990)

The origin of the cover: Album track on ‘Songs of Joy
Original recording artist: The Drifters
Grade: F

Do you remember that piece I did about Phil Collins’ version of ‘The Times They Are A-changin’?

You may have thought it wouldn’t have been possible to record a cover version that’s even worse.

However, there are over 20 cover versions (and that’s not including three Kool and the Gang, The Beach Boys and Move melodies) that are even worse.

And they’re all by the same person: Russ Abbot.

These versions came from two albums: ‘Songs Of Joy’, which was released in 1990, and 1985’s ‘I Love A Party’.

The latter of the two is probably the better album – and that’s by the smallest of margins.

It’s never a good sign when an album contains versions of ‘Y.M.C.A’, ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘I’m In The Mood for Dancing’. Especially when it also the home of the 1980s’ most bizarre synths.

It says it all when ‘Atmosphere’, a song that’s bad enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown, is one of the best tracks on ‘I Love A Party’.

Abbot ‘outdid’ himself with ‘Songs Of Joy’, though, as the LP is full of cover versions (with the sole exception of the title track).

Suffice to say, it makes Duran Duran’s ‘Thank You’ look like ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

The critical question, though, is what’s the worst song on the album?

‘Don’t Turn Around’ and ‘Woyaya’ are haunting for the wrong reasons, mainly because it sounds like that they have been recorded with the settings of a Casio PT-100 keyboard.

‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ and ‘On the Wings Of Love’ are slushier than the slushiest of Slush Puppies, while ‘White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)’ is reminiscent of Jason Donovan’s worst musical crimes.

His worst cover, however, is ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’. Like his versions of ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ and ‘Two Hearts’, Abbot wants to croon like Elvis Presley.

The problem, though, is that his vocals have a very deep echo, and thus ensuring that they are rather unsubtle.

And the session musicians’ efforts are even worse. Being similar to a dodgy working men’s club act doesn’t even come close to describing them.

As the plonkiest keyboard and weakest jazz synths have been used, the track ends up sounding like a bad ZX Spectrum soundtrack.

The worst thing about it is that Abbot took this whole charade seriously.

He could have redeemed himself if he treated these covers as a novelty and joke (like the ‘Russ Abbot’s Madhouse‘ LP), but they aren’t novelties.

He probably thought that he had recorded something worthwhile. Rarely has a cover version been more wrong than this.

I’d prefer to hear Robson & Jerome’s version of ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ on a continuous loop, rather than having to hear Abbot’s songs again, and that’s saying something.


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