Saturday, 20 June 2015

From Inside The Pod Revisited #10

As much as I've always tried to seek out and promote new music, I still cannot accept most people not giving a shit. I'm better than I was, mind. I used to get in a right strop about it. I closed my old blog down when I realised my audience only seemed to enjoy the covers podcast I used to post over those that consisted mainly of original material. Nowadays, I'm more likely to satisfy myself that I'm far more advanced, educated and superior in my musical interest tht 99% of everyone else. Even if that's not true, I still like to think it is.

Only two more podcasts after this one were forthcoming before I crashed the pod. I still intend to post a few more here though before I finally bring the whole thing to a definitive halt. This was the last of the covers ones I released at the time. As usual, the following notes remain as they were at the time of the original posting.

Pod 28: re:Covering 4
(first published March 2012)

Covers yada-yada-yada.  You sure you're not getting tired of this concept yet?  You wouldn't rather hear some original material?  Well?  Oh go on then, here's another bunch for you.

1. Ian McCulloch Lover Lover Lover [1992, Mysterio]
(original by Leonard Cohen)
Len's back in vogue with his new album 'Old Ideas' topping the charts in 9 countries (making him, at 77, the oldest artist to score a number one in Finland.  How's that, fact fans?!) and reaching number 3 in the States, his highest ever chart position there.  The critics have raved about the record and everyone seems to want to cover his songs again.  Echo And The Bunnymen frontman Ian McCulloch has done a couple himself, this excellent take on 'Lover Lover Lover' being released as a single from his second solo album.

2. Zee Avi First Of The Gang To Die [2009, Zee Avi]
(original by Morrissey)
It's always an act of bravery to even attempt a cover of a Smiths/Morrissey song.  You leave yourself wide open to all sorts of (often unjustified) criticism from the diehards.  God forbid you should tamper with the gospel, eh?  Zee Avi, a 27-year-old singer-songwriter from Malaysia, makes a bold move with her fine version of the track Morrissey recently declared to be the one he is most proud of.  Stripping it down to just voice and acoustic guitar, she even deviates from the original melody line to make the song totally her own.  The cheek of it! Can you hear the purists seething?

3. The Raveonettes I Wanna Be Adored [2010, 50 Years Of Dr. Martens]
(original by the Stone Roses)
Talking of seething purists... I'm personally not overwhelmed by the Stone Roses reunion.  I mean, just listen to that pretty-much perfect debut album.  How can you recapture that 23 years after the event?  Mind, with that attitude, it might be easy to dismiss anyone else's interpretations of those great (and I really do mean GREAT) songs.  But I love the Raveonettes.  While the Roses very much defined an era, the dynamic Danish duo constantly sound like they're trying to discover some lost musical paradise hidden in a rift in space and time that falls somewhere between 1957 and the present day.  If this had come out in 1989 instead of the original, we could have been talking about Copenhagen instead of 'Madchester'.  Maybe.

4. Sonic Youth Ça Plane Pour Moi [1992, Freedom of Choice: Yesterday's New Wave Hits As Performed By Today's Stars]
(original by Plastic Bertrand)
Right, without resorting to Google or Wikipedia, how many famous rock & roll Belgians can you name?  Give up?  You probably got Plastic Bertrand and then...?  And to be honest, 'Ça Plane Pour Moi' was his only big hit, but the fact it became one of the biggest selling French language songs worldwide ever makes him worthy of 'fame'.  Sadly, it all went wrong for Bertrand (real name Roger Jouret) when after a decade of living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, he began to resemble Elvis circa 1977, before going on to flop in the Eurovision Song Contest representing Luxembourg!  The song lives on however, having been covered countless times - Richard Thompson, Vampire Weekend, the Presidents of the United States of America and Kim Wilde (!) have all had a pop - but Sonic Youth's noise-drenched romp-thru is up there with the better ones.  Oh, the guy who invented the saxophone was Belgian.  And so, apparently, was Audrey Hepburn...

5. A Camp Boys Keep Swinging [2009, Covers EP]
(original by David Bowie)
Strangely, Bowie fans are not as fiercly protective of their idol's work as Morrissey/Stone Roses nuts.  They tend to welcome covers of his songs rather than forbid them.  No wonder then that there have been many superb interpretations of Bowie classics (and one or two duff ones).  A Camp is a side-project of Swedish popmeisters The Cardigans, led by Nina Persson.  They update our Dave's cocksure, coke-fuelled original (from 1979's 'Lodger'), adding a touch of typically Scandinavian pop-pizazz to the proceedings.

6. Miranda Sex Garden Exit Music (For A Film) [2001, Anyone Can Play Radiohead - A Tribute to Radiohead]
(original by Radiohead)
Pretentious buggers, Radiohead.  Agreed?  Fitting therefore that they should be covered by London's finest (only?) neo-classical avant-garde goths Miranda Sex Garden.  This take on one of 'OK Computer's more downbeat moments (and there were more than a few of them) was actually the very last thing MSG released.

7. Hayseed Dixie Ace Of Spades [2004, Let There Be Rockgrass]
(original by Motörhead (on The Young Ones!))
Something to cheer us up a bit after that.  There can be no-one who doesn't know 'Ace of Spades'.  If there is, I don't want to know them.  Ever.  But if Lemmy's brand of heavy, fast punk-metal doesn't do it for you, how's about a bluegrass version?  Hayseed Dixie began life as an AC/DC tribute band (AC/DC = Hayseed Dixie... see what they did there?) but branched out, covering (in a redneck-stylee) other rock behemoths such as Kiss, Queen and Black Sabbath, before moving onto pop in the form of Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters.  Nowadays, they write more of their own material, but remain hilarious and actually bloody amazing musicians.

8. Camille O'Sullivan Sna Bróga Seo (In These Shoes) [2009, Ceol 09]
(original by Kirsty MacColl)
I understand the Burlesque movement is making a bit of a comeback.  Not that I would know about such things of course.  Irish chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan is tapping into that, taking an interesting array of other people's songs to such audiences.  She seems to be a fan of Nick Cave, tackling three or four of his songs, and her latest album also includes two Radiohead numbers.  This stab at Kirsty MacColl's 'In These Shoes?' was recorded in the Irish Gaelic language for a compilation album.  The more I hear it, the less I actually care for it that much.  Perhaps it's because I'm a Kirsty purist (oh the irony!) but I think the lyrics really make this song and unless you speak Gaelic, it's kind of wasted.  And performance-wise it's a little... meh, something you could never have accused the lovely Kirsty of.

9. The Joy Formidable It's Over [2011, The Big More EP]
(original by Roy Orbison)
I talked of bravery when describing Zee Avi taking on a Morrissey track.  So how about a young Welsh trio with a female vocalist tackling one of the most famous songs by arguably the most remarkable, heartbreaking male voice of all-time?  A hardy challenge for sure, and make of it what you will, but I simply cannot rate this band highly enough.  I demand that you love them! Here's the video for this amazing version.

10. The Wedding Present Back For Good [2008, How The West Was Won (box set)]
(original by Take That)
Let's face it, if anyone can take a bonafide British boyband classic and turn it into a gloomy indie anthem complete with loud guitars, squealing feedback and a Northern accent, the boy Gedge can.  And how!  I hope he's still churning stuff out when he gets to Leonard Cohen's age.

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  1. Completely forgot about the Anyone Can Play Radiohead album. I haven't played the CD in years. Have to find and remind myself again.

  2. Last Thursday night I watched both beautiful noise and upside down, the creation records story. Friday night I went to see Black Grape. While the support act (AliasKid) were on I gave my opinion of them to my mate. I turn around and Alan McGee was standing beside me!!!