It says a lot about a song when artists from different backgrounds, genres, and perspectives all record the same song. “Dream Baby Dream” was originally written and recorded by the seminal two-man punk duo Suicide (Alan Vega and Martin Rev), who did their thing long before there was such a thing called punk (they started in the early 1970s).
Many famous musicians were fans of Suicide, most famously, Ric Ocasek of the Cars (who produced one of their albums and had them perform on the 1970s NBC program “Midnight Special”) and Bruce Springsteen. You can hear a lot of Suicide’s influence in Springsteen’s minimalistic “State Trooper” from the 1982 album “Nebraska,” especially the shouts and whelps that come directly from Suicide’s monumentally distressing song “Frankie Teardrop.” Included here is an absolutely lovely live version of “Dream Baby Dream” by Springsteen interpersed with clips from F.W. Murnau’s monumental silent-era film “Sunrise.”
And … Neneh Cherry … who lately has been coming on strong as a punk Billie Holiday from hell, filtered through “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” -era Sly and the Family Stone and Eno-era Roxy Music, has her own killer version of “Dream Baby Dream,” from her monumentally awesome album “The Cherry Thing,” released in 2012.
Here’s Neneh’s wonderfully sleazy, avant-garde, and punk-jazz cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ nihilistic S&M masterpiece. This sounds like an outtake from Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” … only with Iggy’s passion, anger, and brain full of God-knows-what. Neneh has evolved into a cross between Nina Simone and Diamanda Galas. This is some seriously deep and scary s–t. If that’s not a cool f–kin’ concept, I don’t know what is!
I always liked Neneh Cherry and thought she was a severely underrated performer. Here is an absolutely electrifying cover of the classic punk reggae song by X-Ray Spex. This is the best quality I could find online, but if you stay with it, I swear you will be richly rewarded. Cherry punks out quite energetically on this one and with the drums and bass slamming incredibly hard, you will be dancing around the room if you have a pulse.
This unusual, reggae-influenced pop-punk song about germophobia hit the Top 20 in Britain back in 1978. Back then, most people probably thought it was a clever satire. Today, many people consider being a germophobe a badge of honor. Ai-yi-yi! Yesterday’s satire becomes today’s “And your point is?”
Neneh Cherry (“Buffalo Stance”) recorded a brilliant cover of this that’s floating around out there.