Take Cover! The Beach Boys Vs. Frank Black

When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week: Frank Black takes on the Beach Boys’ “I Know There’s An Answer” (a.k.a. “Hang On To Your Ego”). MAGNET’s Edward Fairchild pulls the pin. Take cover!

Frank Black pumps Brian Wilson’s dreamy bedroom tune into a dance number. Later released as a bonus track for the Pet Sounds reissue, the original version of “Hang On To Your Ego” was changed to “I Know There’s An Answer” before the album’s final release over fears it would associate the band with LSD. Mike Love was behind the change: “The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego.” Check out the psychedelic video from Black:

The Cover:
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The Original:
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  1. Joe
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Only slightly related to this post. I’ve been trying to verify that Pavement (i.e. Scott) ripped of the chord progression for “Kennel District” from Frank Blacks song “Czar” , but can’t seem to find anyone familiar with both songs. Y’all seem like you must be very familiar with Frank Black’s work. It’s a straight pull, right? Or is that progression such a common one that the use in both songs is likely to be coincidental? I’m not a musician myself.

  2. John
    Posted August 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I prefer Kim Deal’s cover of Sebadoh’s “Freed Pig” with the Breeders….

  3. Hal Erickson
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    The Frank Black version is very respectable and interesting, but nothing can compare with Brian’s version.

  4. kelprecords
    Posted August 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    no contest, though frank’s is neat.

    but may i suggest a beatles battle vs the feelies?? “everybody’s got something to hide…” would be a close call.

  5. Posted August 20, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    As much as I love Frank Black (and his version of ego), it’s patently ridiculous to even suggest that any cover version of a song from “Pet Sounds”
    is better than the original. “Ego” is a classic tune for sure, and nobody is ever going to be able to deliver on the emotion of what the writer intended other than the writer himself. IMHO

  6. Bill Wikstrom
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Black’s version is fine, he knowingly took the song to the disco and did no disservice to it.

    But TBB’s version is still the definitive version.

    And hey, FB’s version literally wouldn’t have existed without TBB’s version.

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