by Ryan Wasoba
As we mourn the passing of Hal David, the lyrical genius on the Burt Bacharach/Hal David dream team, we also revisit his timeless contributions to music. Here are the six best renditions of one of his best songs, "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me."
6. Jim O'Rourke (featuring Thurston Moore) In 2010, Jim O'Rourke released All Kinds Of People (Love Burt Bacharach), a tribute album that featured musicians he had befriended since relocating to Tokyo ten-ish years prior as well as some old pals from his days as a Chicago experimental music icon. One such buddy was Thurston Moore, a bandmate during O'Rourke's six year stint in Sonic Youth. Moore handles vocals on "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me," which might be the strongest track on All Kinds Of People. It is a fairly straight cover in the Sandie Shaw/Dionne Warwick tradition of the track, but hearing the lyrics sung by the voice of "Teen Age Riot" makes the song somehow perverse.
5. The McCoy Tyner Trio With Symphony Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner paid his respects to the Bacharach/David songbook on his 1997 record What The World Needs Now: The Songs Of Burt Bacharach, a trio album supplemented by an orchestra. Tyner is an inventive pianist who previously pushed John Coltrane to his creative heights, but his take on "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" is a head scratcher. Besides the melodrama of the opening strings, there's nothing conceptually wrong with the track, but the result is uneasy. Whether or not this feeling was intentional, the unsettling atmosphere is a welcome addition to a song that could devolve into tackiness without proper care. 4. Naked Eyes Naked Eyes' new wave cover of this Bacharach/David classic is the most significant rendition since its original 1960s run. By dropping the "(There's)" from the title and converting the song into a triplet feel, the band essentially drew a line in the sand between its version and all those before. Thanks to Naked Eyes, the average person alive today is surprised to find out that this track is even a cover. A cynic could use this fact (which I have no proof of) to rant about ignorance among modern music fans, but you can also argue that the song is such a perfect match for the band - and Naked Eyes owned it so hard - that the group gave it a second life, and is part of why we're still listening to it and talking about it today. 3. The Troggs The Troggs wrote "Wild Thing," without which Charlie Sheen's character in Major League would have no theme song. The band rose to fame in the 1960s with the aid of The Kinks' management team, and like The Kinks, The Troggs began as a sloppy, biting garage rock band and developed more elaborate, elegant ideas throughout its career. Unlike the Kinks, The Troggs' songwriting did not keep up with its ambitions, and the band relied on cover songs and embarrassing re-recordings of "Wild Thing" to stay afloat. For its 1990 collection Au (spoiler alert: it's the periodic table abbreviation for gold), the band worked up "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me," turning into something vaguely resembling The Cure or New Order. This description might set off alarms, as a British band from the 1960s releasing a new wave-ish version of a song from its era in the style of new-school British bands reads as pandering to the youngins. Fear not, The Troggs not only do the song justice, the group uses the tune as a template for reinvention, both for the song and the band.
2. Braid Technically, this rendition by Midwestern proto-emo warrior Braid is a cover of a Naked Eyes cover instead of a Bacharach/David cover. It takes the bouncy 1980s track, mellows it out and renders it sinister. When Braid's contemporaries covered an old pop song, the result was usually either ironic or pepped up. Bob Nanna and company are innocent on both counts.
1. Sandie Shaw Sandie Shaw's "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" is the definitive rendition from the song's first life. Shaw nails the sensitive verse/powerful chorus dynamics, but the strength of the song is how well it captures Burt Bacharach and Hal David's team aesthetic. Together, they wrote sensitive ballads ("Walk On By," "This Guy's In Love With You") and lounging classics ("What The World Needs Now," "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?"), but the Bacharach/David signature was their triumph. Climatic tunes like "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" sound like Burt Bacharach and Hal David were daring each other to add more lighter fluid to an already above-adequate fire. The hook on Sandie Shaw's version is a daydream wrapped in a surprise party. She sings "I'll never be free / You'll always be a part of me" and comes down, landing softly into a reality that still feels like a cloud. The resulting goosebumps are second only to those from Dionne Warwick's recording of the Bacharach/David song "I Say A Little Prayer." Sandie Shaw's interpretation is spot-on, but she's really just the voice. When you are gifted a song this solid, by writers as masterful as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the best thing you can do is stay out of the way.