Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Obsession by Michael Des Barres

Most people are aware of Animotion's big hit (to the extent that they could fairly be called a one-hit wonder) "Obsession" from November of 1984.  What is actually not known by very many is that Animotion were actually covering the song; it was written by Michael Des Barres and Holly Knight and recorded at least a year earlier.  As near as I can tell, the single was only ever a promotional release in the US (so I don't know exactly how you were to get a hold of it as a general consumer) although there was a UK 12" release that appears to be a general release, and it was also on the soundtrack of the big flop of a movie A Night in Heaven starring the guy from The Blue Lagoon as a college aged stripper who has a fling with his professor, who's own marriage is struggling, blah, blah, blah.  The movie was a big flop, hardly made any money, neither critics nor audiences liked it, but it did give us...

Brian Adams' hit song "Heaven"—a full year and a half before it was added to his own mega-hit album Reckless and was re-released as a single.  And, of course, the original version of "Obsession."  Which, when I discovered this, I had to hear immediately, of course.  At first, compared to the much more famous Animotion version, it sounded odd and weird, but it grew on me quickly.

This video below isn't the original version.  Oh, it's the original songwriter and performer, but this is a completely re-recorded version.  Instead of being a duet with Holly Knight—which it was the first time around—it's with Teal Collins Zee, otherwise known from the Austin, TX music scene as part of the country music band Mother Truckers (originally from Marin County CA, apparently.)  Seems like an odd choice, but she does a good job.  I really like this remake by the original artist.

As an aside, there are lots of versions of this song out there.  It's been covered many times, and is clearly an important component of mid-80s pop culture.  For some more overtly synthpopy versions than Michael Des Barres and Holly Knight's original, check out the version by The Azoic, Electric Six or Glitch Factor.  For weird, creepy versions, check out versions by Golden State or Karen O.  And there are even heavy metal versions (Terminatryx) and other pop-rock versions (Just Kait with School Boy Humor) and even a pseudo-chiptunes version of it by Detour Zero.

And, of course, don't miss the Animotion version.  I like the "extended" version (which on my old cassette tape was just the album version) which has a minute and a half or so of guitar solo outro.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit a general feeling of "burn-out" towards the original 'Obsession' by Animotion. Years of hearing it played on the radio and endless 'dj' mixes have left me somewhat tired of the sound. With that said, I DO like this version and it's unique spin on the classic. Great to hear a bit of new life put into a classic track. Thanks for sharing!