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Why Does This 1982 Cover Of Cybotron’s “Cosmic Cars” Exist?

Written by on September 9, 2019

This near-identical version of the electro classic is a head scratcher for sure.

by Joshua Glazer

As long as there has been popular music, there have been folks willing to lay down a version of an already well-known tune for their own gain. Sometimes it’s by design—like when Motown had both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight release “Heard It Through The Grape Vine” in 1967. Other times it’s to appeal to a wider audience, most famously Pat Boone doing a version of Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruiti” that white suburban kids could play without hiding it from their parents.

In electronic music, the most popular covers are clear cash grabs (like that time Sony ripped-off Underground Resistance) or done with a dollop of attention-seeking cheeks (IE—Tiga’s entire early career). But what are we to make of this oddball cover of Juan Atkins and Richard Davis’ 1980s techno outfit Cybotron’s classic, “Cosmic Cars” by an unknown producer by the name Ken Lewis. This near note-for-note remake was released the same year as the original underground record, way before Atkins made much of an impact beyond the region markets in Detroit, New York and Chicago. The 12-inch was released by Toronto-based label, Scorpio, which was known for seemingly questionable releases and re-issues. One can only guess they thought there was a market to be had after cashing in on a questionable cover of Blondie’s “Rapture” two years earlier. Or maybe Canada wasn’t quite ready for the real Detroit sound, which is way more gritty than this clean Canadian cover.

Either way, this disc would be a major score for any clever DJ looking for something to make the old-school electro geeks scratch their heads. Lewis, in the meanwhile, would go on to record an even odder “original,” ” I Got The Best Beat” in 1983, which basically just ripped off Billy Squire’s “The Big Beat” before disappearing into anonymity.

Can someone call this dude out already? Oh wait, we just did.