Faith No More’s Mike Patton has never sung straighter than he does on his group’s remake of the Commodores’ 1977 ode to brain drain, ”Easy.” And the faux alternative-metal band Ugly Kid Joe has never sounded less smirky than it does on its windswept cover of Harry Chapin’s 1974 hit story-song, ”Cats in the Cradle.” For those reasons alone, both of these unlikely remakes are gearing up to be hits. Commercial success is the least of their significance, though. Reverent, unironic, and almost unbelievably faithful to the spirit of the originals, they (and the ”Bohemian Rhapsody” segment of Wayne’s World) quietly trumpet a change in thinking when it comes to ’70s culture: that it’s okay to like this sort of schlock, and that good junk artifacts can be as affecting and meaningful as high art (or the Beatles). Take that, baby-boom scum.
The ’70s revival itself appears to be cresting, just in time for the comebacks of Reagan-era icons like Boy George. This week, Rhino continues its exhaustible Have a Nice Day series of ’70s AM radio fodder with volumes 16-19 (”Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,” ”Shannon,” ”Dream Weaver,” ”The Things We Do for Love,” ”Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky),” ”Lonely Boy”). Between those compilations and the FNM and UKJ remakes, what a nice way to put a cap on ’70s nostalgia — with affection and a large, inviting yellow smile button.