MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2015
WEEK 51: THE HISTORY OF MODERN MUSIC CULTURE IN COVER VERSIONS
In the second decade of the 21st century, the mystifying art of the cover song has been almost completely corrupted by the incessant chirruping of all those desperate TV talent show neverwillbes. X Factor, The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent; those programme’s are everywhere, filling up every last minute of our dull weekends. Versions of old classics or recent best sellers remain their staple diet; watered down, homogenised, bland and very, very beige. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first golden rule of doing a cover is if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, then don’t bother in the first place. In the hands of adventurous music makers, covers can be a great device for speaking in a more colloquial tongue. It doesn’t matter how deviant or extreme the execution, what matters is how that close encounter with a familiar melody or hook speaks to even the most casual listener.
Some re-contextualise the classic’s, some shine a light on the brilliant writing at the heart of the original, while others elicit a wry smile of recognition with just the right amount of humour and reverence. Despite the familiarity so central to their very core, covers are at their best when offering an entry point into music that is beyond our normal experience, so providing an easy way in to those new listening experiences we all crave so much. Chuck a decent cover version into your life and it can be like the insey winsey buzz or burst of excitement you get when you do something a little out of the ordinary.
Edited down from literally thousands, this, our penultimate playlist includes many of our favourite’s as a kind of alternative history of modern music culture in cover versions. Some you will know, some you will not, some are radical reconstructions, some just provide a bit of oomph but all are suitably thrilling remakes, twisting perceptions of their original sound and meaning. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll be hearing any X Factor or Voice wannabe sounding quite like these anytime soon!
01 MUSE ‘Feeling Good’ (Nina Simone June 1965 LP ‘I Put A Spell On You’)
02 CHRIS ECKMAN ‘Yellow Submarine’ (The Beatles August 1966 Single)
03 BECK ‘Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat’ (Bob Dylan August 1966 LP ‘Blonde On Blonde’)
04 THE SLITS ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ (Marvin Gaye August 1968 Single)
05 LAIBACH ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ (Rolling Stones December 1968 LP ‘Beggars Banquet’)
06 SONIC YOUTH ‘Superstar’ (The Carpenters August 1971 Single)
07 THE YOUNG GODS ‘Did You Miss Me (Hello Hello I’m Back Again)’ (Gary Glitter April 1973 Single)
08 ALABAMA 3 ‘Hotel California’ (The Eagles December 1976 LP ‘Hotel California’)
09 THE SEA AND THE CAKE ‘Sound And Vision’ (David Bowie January 1977 LP ‘Low’)
10 THE FALL ‘Lost In Music’ (Sister Sledge January 1979 LP ‘We Are Family’)
11 GRACE JONES ‘She’s Lost Control’ (Joy Division August 1979 LP ‘Unknown Pleasures’)
12 AFGHAN WHIGS ‘Lost In The Supermarket’ (The Clash December 1979 LP ‘London Calling’)
13 LCD SOUNDSYSTEM ‘Slowdive’ (Siouxsie & The Banshees October 1982 Single)
14 T.A.T.U. ‘How Soon Is Now?’ (The Smiths August 1984 Single)
15 TRICKY ‘Black Steel (In The Hour Of Chaos)’ (Public Enemy April 1988 LP ‘Nation Of Millions’)
16 POLYPHONIC SPREE ‘Lithium’ (Nirvana September 1991 LP ‘Nevermind’)
17 JACK WHITE ‘Love Is Blindness’ (U2 November 1991 LP ‘Achtung Baby’)
18 BEN FOLDS ‘Bitche’s Ain’t Shit’ (Dr Dre December 1992 LP ‘The Chronic’)
19 TIMO RAISANEN ‘Creep’ (Radiohead September 1992 Single)
20 EELS ‘Get Ur Freak On’ (Missy Elliott March 2001 Single)