Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Take Cover

(Um yeah, you’ll probably want sound for today’s post. Sorry if you’re at work)

Hit and miss it may be, but I’m really loving Mark Ronson’s new album of covers, with it’s mostly successful approach of roping in the likes of Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and relative unknowns The Daptone Horns and injecting life into tracks by mainstays such as the Zutons, the Kaiser Chiefs and Coldplay which I’d previously dismissed as fairly staid. I think everyone loves a good cover version, especially if it takes such a divergent approach so as to leave you completely frustrated in the first 30 seconds before the lyrics kick in as you try to place what song it is.

One or two of the tracks on the album may well be vying for a place amongst some of my favourite covers ever, alongside Paul Anka’s Soundgarden cover, Señor Coconut’s various Kraftwerk covers, and – probably my most adored ever – Polyphonic Spree’s take on Nirvana’s Lithium.

In contrast to the above songs, taking things down a notch can work pretty well too. Pretty much anything by the fantastic Nouvelle Vague fits the bill, Nina Gordon’s NWA cover did the rounds everywhere a couple of years ago, and I still remember being massively impressed by Tarvis’s reworking of a recent pop classic at Glastonbury 2000. José González is also building a bit of a reputation for himself as an acoustic cover master, Kylie’s Hand On Your Heart or Massive Attack’s Teardrop probably being the stand outs for me.

Another couple of songs which lend a completely different aspect to the originals (but for vastly different reasons) are Johnny Cash’s haunting rendition of Nine Inch Nails’s Hurt, and Elbow’s take on Independent Women (enhanced by Joel Veitch’s video).

One last ‘cover’ of sorts worth mentioning is, of course, the reworking of Radiohead’s back catalogue by the University of Arizona’s marching band. If you haven’t seen it, (i) where have you been?!, and (ii) lookit (if you’re pushed for time, the highlight is probably from 3.00 to 4.10) (they also do a Led Zeppelin routine if that’s more your bag, kicking off with a great rendition of Good Times, Bad Times).

So, what are your favourite covers? Let me know in the comments, preferably with a link. Maybe we could make an almighty mix-tape.


(I love a good mashup as much as the next man – Soulwax’s Intergalactic remix will forever be associated with beer drenched nights at The Garage, whereas there’s something indescribably amusing about something as unashamedly forced and silly as 99 Luftproblems – so I’ll allow those too because I’m lax like that)

12 comments:

Shane said...

Hello dear.
I did like James Dean Bradfield's covers of Raindrops Keep Falling, and The Supremes' Baby Love.
The Cheshire Chord Company's version of 'I Predict a Riot' (Kaiser Chiefs) is also worth a mention.
I will not provide links - it is not in my nature to do so, and I'd be surprised if there were relevant ones out there.
Good day.

Huw said...

I have to do everything round here.

The Manic's Raindrops cover can be listened to via this page.

Their rendition of Baby Love is near the start of this clip.

The good ladies of the Cheshire Chord Company do their thang here.

Afe said...

I can't really go past Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" really. Then again Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" puts up a good fight.

Huw said...

Well, no one has said Crossroads by Blazin' Squad at least.

fwengebola said...

Paul Anka's take on 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' has to be heard to be believed.
And Beck's 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime' from the Eternal Sunshine of the blah blah blah soundtrack is just t'riffic.

Will said...

If we're talking swing covers, check out Richard Cheese's version of Nine Inch Nails' Closer here. "You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you" etc.

But for non-novelty quality, it's gotta be The Slits version of Heard it Through the Grapevine. Also Soft Cell's Tainted Love, although that barely counts; they made it theirs.

Will said...

Oh, and Gloria by Patti Smith.

Chris said...

I'm afraid I'm totally ignorant on these many awesome cover versions, I am enjoying listening to them as a rank novice. It's kind of vaguely relevant, so I'll recommend it.
Check out Raiding the 20th Century by DJ Food. Not a cover version so much as an extraordinary mash up/audio documentary soundscape. Truly one-off. Mash up classics strnagely mixed with read extracts of Paul Morely's book 'Words and Music'. Still not quite sure how to listen to it.http://www.ubu.com/sound/dj_food.html

Huw said...

Ah, The Slits cover! How did I miss that?! I nearly mentioned the Creedence Clearwater Revival's version when I wrote the post, but decided it didn't bring much new to the track. The Slits is a much better call.

Huw said...

Chris: I think I actually taped that off the wireless a couple of years ago (yes, I'm the person who still does that). An intriguing Franz Ferdinand meets Obladi Ob-la-da opening if I remember correctly.

Curly said...

For sheer comedy value and as a snapshot of a time where I was really enjoying my Radio...

Travis (feat. Mark & Lard) - Baby One More Time.


The "Green Green Grass of Home", sang by many including Elvis and Johnny Cash - but none better than the Tom Jones version...

Monica said...

I love the Nouvelle Vague! I only heard about them in Australia; have you known about them this whole time and never told me? Did you like the Dynamite Hack cover?

There's something about a bunch of 12 year olds doing improvised AC/DC in School of Rock that always gets me....