Monday, 29 September 2014

From Inside The Pod Revisited #4

When I jacked in my old blog 'From Inside The Pod', there were a couple of podcasts I'd compiled that didn't see the light of day. These remained unreleased - until now. Here's one of them, the fifth of the cover version series. It would have been published in early May 2012 if I'd carried on. The notes were already written ready for posting and they appear here pretty much as they were intended. The artwork is new though - I hadn't done that before I called time on the project. Enjoy.

pod 31: re:Covering 5
(compiled/written March-April 2012)

1. Sandie Shaw Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? [1986, BBC Radio 1 Janice Long Session]
original by Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
Sandie Shaw's brief comeback in the 1980s was instigated by the realisation that she still had a lot of fans out there, none less than Messrs Morrissey and Marr who recorded an EP of Smiths songs with her. She also released a version of this track as a single. The original featured on Lloyd Cole's debut album 'Rattlesnakes', widely regarded as his best work.

2. Therapy? Invisible Sun [1993, Peace Together (Benefit for Northern Ireland)]
original by The Police
Invisible Sun reached number 2 in the UK charts for the Police in 1981, despite being banned by the BBC, both for its overtly political lyrics and its video depicting life in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles. Therapy? hail from Northern Ireland so it's perhaps unsurprising that they connect with this song. They render a generally faithful take, restraining themselves somewhat from the much heavier sound for which they are better known - they remain one of the loudest bands I've ever seen.

3. John Otway The House Of The Rising Sun [1993, John Otway and the Big Band Live]
original by...? Well, that's a good question as no one really knows.  But here's the famous, spine-tingling version by The Animals...
Ah, John Otway.  One of the most remarkable live acts I've ever seen. Manically energetic, bloody hilarious and some decent tunes to boot. His version of House of the Rising Sun is unique; unless you've heard it before, I can guarantee you've not heard it done like this before. Here's the video.

4. Sarah Jaffe Louder Than Ever [2011, The Way Sound Leaves A Room]
original by Cold War Kids
With her sophomore album out this month [May 2012], perhaps it's about time Sarah Jaffe's name became a little more well-known out there. She tours relentlessly so it's not as if she hasn't grafted. The original was the first single released from Cold War Kids' third album 'Mine Is Yours' from 2011. Sarah typically rearranges the whole things, turning it into a darkly-brooding jazz-tinged ballad.

5. Inspiral Carpets Tainted Love [1992, Ruby Trax: 40 Years of the NME]
original by Gloria Jones
I don't care what anyone says, Inspiral Carpets were not just about awful bowl haircuts, they were one of the most consistently great singles bands of the late 80s/early 90s. They were good live too. Gloria Jones' original Tainted Love was actually the b-side to a flop single called My Bad Boy's Comin' Home in 1965. It gained popularity during the UK's Northern Soul scene in the 1970s, before Soft Cell took it on in the 80s and gave it to the masses. The Inspirals reworked it quite radically, resulting in one of my fave covers.

6. Polyphonic Spree Love My Way [2006, Wait EP]
original by The Psychedelic Furs
I have long been suspicious of people who seem permanently happy. What exactly are they doing that the rest of the world just can't get right? At least the sun-worshipping Texan army that is the Polyphonic Spree channels its exhuberant joy into music. Other covers attempted by the 20-odd piece choral nutters include tracks by Bowie, Nirvana and John Lennon, but this take on the Psychedelic Furs 1982 hit, the follow-up to Pretty In Pink no less, catches them in full euphoria.

7. Flyscreen Bike [1997, b-side of She Smokes, She Drinks and Writes Poetry]
original by Pink Floyd
The life of Flyscreen was brief, but their presence on the Newport rock scene back in the town's 90s heydays was not overlooked. This version of one of Syd Barrett's best-loved ditties foregos the original's many psychedelic oddities. Instead, it's a no-nonsense rocker.

8. Martha Wainwright Tower Of Song [2008, Cohen Covered]
original by Leonard Cohen
The original Tower Of Song is a truly remarkable recording, it takes a brave person to take it on. Many have tried, but I think Martha's effort ranks pretty damn near the top of my list of more-than-worthy Len covers. A great example of why she's my favourite Wainwright!

9. Charlotte Hatherley This Is Pop! [2007, b-side of Siberia]
original by XTC
Why weren't XTC absolutely phenomenally HUUUGE??! Like a lot of people my age, I found out about them through someone a little older, in my case my cousin John. During one of my many, many trawls through his amazing record collection, I came across the single Making Plans For Nigel and was intrigued.  Little did I know that their influence would still be felt some 30 years later. Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley has made her own share of excellent quirky pop tunes (case in point: her debut solo single Kim Wilde) so as you would expect, she rises to the occasion here. This is pop alright.

10. Mercury Rev Blue Skies [2001, b-side of The Dark Is Rising]
original performed by Belle Baker in the musical 'Betsy'.  She never actually recorded it, so here's Doris Day instead.
Penned by Irving Berlin, Blue Skies first saw the light of day in the now long-forgotten musical 'Betsy' in 1926. It has gone on to become one of Berlin's best-loved and most recorded songs. We all know that in 'Deserters Songs' and 'All Is Dream' Mercury Rev gave us two of the most astonishingly beautiful records of the last 20 years. They make Blue Skies sound so naturally like one of their own songs, it is hard to believe it was 75 years old when they recorded this. It's a wonderful way to close this poddy.