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The Worst Cover of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” Ever

The Worst Cover of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” Ever


The Laurie Bower singers were an incredible find!  I found this gem in an antique store, very pre-internet, so it wasn’t until recently when I made the difficult decision to sell this seminal easy listening collection, that I was able to use the web to learn a bit about this memorable Canadian vocal group.

Let me preface the clinical stuff by saying that this album ain’t for everyone; it will primarily appeal to three groups:

  • Those with sensitive ears who find the original versions of Neil Diamond’s September Morn and Kenny Rogers You Decorated My Lifes too edgy.
  • Those few souls who never got over the fact that Muzak, also known as “dentist office music,” “elevator music,” “background music” and the broader “Easy Listening” genre was ever displaced by the adult-comtemporary “Lite” Sound.  This would include people who enjoy artists like the Ray Conniff Singers, Montovani, Ferrante & Teicher, Andy Williams et. al.
  • Those people who fall into both categories.  Like Allee Willis, April Winchell and myself.

Before I go any further, let me illustrate my point.  Let’s say you kind of always liked Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, but always wished it wasn’t so damn aggressive sounding and you could somehow smooth it over with a topcoat of creamy harmony and, essentially, completely eviscerate and deracinate any remaining evidence of authentic soul in the record.  If that’s you, then this is indeed a lucky day!

The Laurie Bower Singers, “Rock With You”

An interesting thing I discovered when I researched this album was that Laurie Bower was a man!  Yup, that’s right!  I was completely thrown off by the name “Laurie” and the amazingly evocative, though clearly misleading, 9 to 5 vibe of the album cover.

Oh how the breezy harmony takes me back to my early days.  I’m suddenly back in my orthodontist Dr. Strugatz’ office, patiently waiting to have my braces adjusted.  I’m swaying ever so slightly to the easy Muzak groove while I watch the fish swimming around in their aquarium.  I contemplate how very relaxing the world can be and in the moments before my name is called, I experience the true magic and wonder of Easy Listening.

I’m hoping that you’ll consider purchasing this wonderful album, which dates from 1980, at my Etsy Le Crap store (see link below).  In addition to the wonderful program of easy listening selections, I’d like to say a bit more about that album cover. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely spend hours crab combing the fetching double exposure photograph on the cover, which, I think, still says so very much about the complicated emotional response to being stranded on a porch in 1980 wearing a secretary dress and sensible pair of strappy sandals.  The photo is nothing short of stunning in its power.  Like an old master painting, the artists asks more questions than he answers: “why is she on this porch?”; “has she been abandoned?”; “was she waiting for a colleague to take her to the office and that friend never came?”; “is she a permanent employee or a temp?”; “was she stood up by a date”?; “what if a beloved pet has run away and she patiently waits on the porch for his return”; “why the fuck are there TWO of her?”

Like all great works of art, this photograph asks us to think about what happened just before or after the shutter snaps as if to say, “Sit Up!”, “Pay Attention!”, “every moment of every day people are sitting on porches and waiting and there’s a lotta life going on out there!”  No matter how you interpret this album cover, it is certainly suitable for framing!

But I digress.  Despite its graphic attributes, When You Say Goodbye is, in the end, about music.  In addition to the aforementioned Rock With You and You Decorated My Life, you can enjoy the group’s lugubrious renditions of the Doobie Brothers’ Minute By Minute, their wispy interpretation of Neil Young’s Lotta Love and, most curiously, a toothless take on Supertramp’s Take The Long Way Home! (which come to think of it, might offer a plausible theory as to where her husband is and why she is waiting on the porch!)  There are several less well-known but equally beautiful numbers sure to sooth the savage impulses that lurk within each of our hearts.


You may also enjoy:

Stargazying Mix Tape: The Most Unbelievable Cover Songs of All-Time, #1-5

Stargayzing Mix Tape: The Most Unbelievable Cover Songs of All-Time, #6 – 10

Stairway to Stardom Redux: Dante Sings the Theme from “Exodus” to Celebrate Stargayzing’s 201st Post!

If Marie Osmond Sang “Memory” From Cats on a Telethon in 1982 but Nobody Listened, Did it Make a Sound?


More Michael Jackson:

How a 45-Minute Visit with Michael Jackson Led to Years of Nightmares







  1. Ellsworth Whitsell
    September 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I just want to mention I am just new to blogging and site-building and honestly enjoyed this page. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your website . You definitely come with impressive article content. Thanks a bunch for sharing your webpage.

  2. Colina
    January 24, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Sadly, Laurie Bower passed away this week and we mourn him deeply.

    This is a highly amusing post which Laur would likely have enjoyed. Judy Tate Barlow, also a former member of LBS who is still a close friend, shared your post to soothe our sorrow over the loss of Laurie. In the words of TV producer Joseph Partington Laurie was “Mr. Positive Input during sessions . . . Wonderful, humourous congenial-mood-creator “.

    Thank you.

  3. Tracey (Bower) Hamilton
    February 11, 2016 at 4:26 am

    My dad read this blog a while back & had a giggle. He may not have been ‘hip’ in your eyes but he was a highly respected musician among his peers. On each of his albums he usually picked a tune to cover by an artist I happened to be into at the time: Barry Manilow, Elton John, Michael Jackson, even Supertramp. His music was of the easy listening variety and thus directed toward a more mature audience but what he did, he did very well. He arranged & performed countless television & radio jingles, played trombone in bands backing such artists as Tony Bennett, Diana Krall & even Elvis Presley when they came to Toronto. He also played on many movie soundtracks & even had a small onscreen part in the Natalie Cole Movie. He was also one of the singers on the original Spiderman theme.
    Sadly, he passed away 3 weeks ago.
    I, for one, am very PROUD of the man Laurie (Lawrence) Bower was, who not only was an amazing musician but an incredible father & all round nice guy.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • David Munk
      February 25, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Dear Tracey,

      I loved received word from you and your dad and wanted to reply properly, but the blog was down and I was in the process of both redesigning and rebranding and couldn’t. I am so sorry to hear of his passing as he seemed liked a fantastic guy with a great sense of life and music. I wrote this piece years ago, perhaps before I had completely honed my now “legendary” ability to pay homage and take the piss out a bit simultaneously. I assure you that I have tremendous respect and reverence for all musicians of all different stripes.

      I am thrilled that the piece will live on as a testament to your dad’s artistry and work. Thank you for reaching out.


  4. Tracey (Bower) Hamilton
    February 28, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Thank you David for your kind words. I am still very much in mourning for the loss of my dad but I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond. Dad loved his work and the many great musicians he had the privilege of working with including Colina & Judy. He may be gone now but he has left his mark on this world & in the hearts of those who knew him.

    • David Munk
      March 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Tracy it is truly my pleasure. Please consider contributing something to the blog to honor your dad at some point if that seems like something you would like to do. Kindly, David

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