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Archive for July, 2008

My Jumps

Thursday, July 31st, 2008


Today’s entry represents Van Halen‘s sole #1 hit, Jump.
It also has the dubious distinction of being the first cover song I recall encountering. I remember hearing it when I was around 12 or so when, my friend, who had better music taste than I at the time, whips out the Aztec Camera version. I also remember my immediate reaction was ‘Heeeeey! What the..?! how could they……can they…….they can do that?’.

A little wiki-trivia:
It was also covered in a slowed-down, acoustic version by Scottish band Aztec Camera, and released as a B-side to their August 1984 single “All I Need Is Everything”. The singer, Roddy Frame, claimed that the riff reminded him of The Lou Reed/Velvet Underground song ‘”Sweet Jane”. In an interview with the New Musical Express (NME) in Feb. 9th 1985, David Lee Roth said he thought this version was ‘great.’

For good measure I also threw in the Mambo Kurt version, which I think name alone should clue you in on what you’re getting. Be sure to stick around for the bridge.

Aztec Camera – Jump
Mambo Kurt – Jump

Enjoy!
LS

Wild Thing

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008


I believe todays entry might represent the sum total of
Bow Wow Wow covers:
One.***
You’d think BWW (who were no strangers to covers themselves) would, given their cult-like 80’s status, have elicited at least one more
See Jungle!, Louis Quatorze or C30, C60, C90, Go.
Nope.
So leave it to C86 alums and cover version mavens,
The Wedding Present to tackle Go Wild In The Country, transforming it into a short, intense piece of agit-pop.


The Wedding Present – Go Wild in the Country

Enjoy!
LS

***Addendum:Like the Vampire Weekend says ‘I, stand, corrected’.
Thanks to the eagle eyed Underneathica, who pointed out that “C30, C60, C90, Go” was covered by Pretty Girls Make Graves.


Say Uncle

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008


There are tins, There was pork There are legs, There are sharks There was John, There are cliffs, There was Mother, There’s a poker There was you, Then there was you
Brian EnoThird Uncle

List songs are kind of a cop out, and for the most part usually a bad idea. Think REM’s End of The World, or worse yet Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire. Unless of course you’re Saint Brian Eno, then all is forgiven. When the original punks started burning their record collections, they clung to their copies of Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain like their first born, the latter of which houses today’s entry, Third Uncle. It also infected the next generation of Rip It Up And Start Again Post Punkers. Joy Division built their career around it, Bauhaus went a step further and covered it. Speaking of which, if you’re like me you probably heard this track via Bauhaus and we’re shocked and surprised that it wasn’t penned by them but rather ‘by that bald dude that maketh those Airport albums’. It was only when I woke up from my Goth induced stupor (RE: 1st semester, junior year, high school) I realized what I’d been missing all along.
We also have for you today two live cover versions by 90’s alt poster boys Built to Spill and music critic darlings The Feelies (whats the matter chickens, no room for a studio version?). Multi instrumentalists, Doug Hilsinger and Caroleen Beatty decided they liked it so much they covered the entire friggin album and got Eno’s seal of approval to boot.
And bringing up the rear is the genius that is Susumu Mukai AKA Zongamin who makes a rare vocal appearance (or could that be the infamous Will Sweeney???) on his. Incidentally if you don’t know who Mukai is, run out and buy all his albums pronto or his coffee table book, as the man does for line art what the Residents do for music.

Bauhaus – Third Uncle
Bauhaus – Third Uncle (Toronto 82)
Built to Spill – Third Uncle (Brisbane 08)
Built to Spill – Third Uncle (Seattle 07)
The Feelies – Third Uncle(Madison 84)
Doug Hilsinger With Caroleen Beatty – Third Uncle
Zongamin – Third Uncle (demo)

Enjoy!
LS

George Of The Jaipur

Monday, July 28th, 2008



George Harrison was the most under-valued member of The Beatles.
Besides penning Here Comes The Sun and Something (which Frank Sinatra called “the greatest love song of the last fifty years”) he was also responsible for all those great introspective Hindu jams, like today’s entry Within You Without You, giving the Beatles the dubious distinction of being first pop group to incorporate sitars. He also was the first ex-Beatle to achieve a #1 single (My Sweet Lord). Harrison was one of the first rock stars to organise a major charity concert, Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. He also set up his own movie production company, Handmade Films, which besides bankrolling such UK classics as Withnail and I, Time Bandits and The Long Good Friday, also coughed up the cash for many a Monty Python project, including coming to the rescue for Life of Brian when other film companies got cold feet. And when he wasn’t busy getting his digs in at Lennon and McCartney with doubly charged tracks like Northern Song, he was either out tending to his garden or tearing shit up in his Formula One car.
And the list goes on.

Today’s track Within You Without You, was originally recorded as a 30 minute piece before it got trimmed down to 5:05. It was primarily written around the Hindu concept of Maya “the idea that all mortal people live in a false reality”, which I’d love to light one up, sit cross-legged on a beanbag and explain it to y’all, but my dharmas’ on a short schedule these days.
So, this post’s would be Beatles are:
NY sacred cow Patti Smith
Brit Pops answer to Beatlemania, Oasis
Feelies founder Glen Mercer
Sitar n’ psych orchestra leader, Alan Lorber (which I guess being in a sitar band, this would be the song to cover, right?)
Dead Can Dance with their song Indus, which probably walks a fine line of qualifying as a cover, but is a good listen nonetheless.
And last but not least, my fave out of the lot, Sonic Youth who do a damn fine job of making up for lack of sitar with a wall of shoegazing noise.

Enjoy!
LS

Patti Smith – Within You Without You
Oasis – Within You Without You
Glenn Mercer – Within You Without You

Alan LorberWithin You Without You
Dead Can Dance – Indus

Sonic Youth – Within You Without You

An Apollonia A Day…

Sunday, July 27th, 2008



Prince’s Stylist: Uh Prince, sir, we seemed to have used up the entire budget on outfitting you, the Revolution and Morris Day and his buddies. The well of silk shoulder pads and funny hats hath runneth dry. What are we going to do about Apollonia 6? They’re running around naked.
Prince:No problem. I’ve got this here Frederick’s of Hollywood gift certificate, good for $62, that should be enough to kit them out, no?
Prince’s Stylist: Huzzah!

Did anyone else find it odd that Apollonia 6‘s whole schtick consisted of walking around in their nighties, even during the middle of the day? What was the deal with the weird butch white chick who resembled Aunt Peg? Or for that matter the other one with her over-sized jail baiting teddy bear? The whole ensemble made them look more like undercover vice in an 80’s cop show then a Prince approved side venture.

The other big question is, given it’s 80’s schlock factor, why did it take so long for someone to cover Sex Shooter? Until three years ago you had bupkiss, then faster than you can say Vanity is a Born-Again, you have three, all electroclash; T.H.E.M., Coco Electrik and Frost (whose version is rare and getting rarer, as the Purple Overlord is trying to yank their Shooter from the shelves).

C’mon kiss the gun.

T.H.E.M. – Sex Shooter
Coco Electrik – Sex Shooter
Frost – Sex Shooter

Enjoy
LS

Hear the Pots and Pans They Fall

Saturday, July 26th, 2008


We got a biggie for you today so I’m going to jump right in. The origins of Man Next Door AKA Got To Get Away AKA Quiet Place are somewhat murky. Depending on where you read it, either John Holt recorded first as a member of The Paragons or on his own as a solo artist. In either case he was probably under the influence of 50’s R&B singer Garnett Mimm’s Quiet Place.
One things for certain, not much longer after Holt’s recording, this song soon become a reggae standard.
Similar to our earlier entry, Horace Andy versions of this song abound. The first being with King Tubby and The Aggrovators, included here is both the original and the dub version. Skip ahead 23 years later and we see Horace collaborating with Bristol downtempo superstars Massive Attack, who take Man Next Door, into a very dark, claustrophobic but ultimately rewarding place. And lastly Bill Laswell decides to retake the controls over Horace’s original, by dubbing it into oblivion and rechristening it yet again, this time as A Noisy Place.
Dennis Brown churns out a fairly standard roots version, self produced (with assistance from Joe Gibbs) and is probably the cleanest sounding of the reggae lot. I’ve upped the 12″ version which contains a bit of dub on the tail end.
Representing the dancehall contingent are both Shinehead and George Nooks (AKA Prince Mohammed) with their digital riddim
Man Next Door versions.
In the reggae “DJ” (e.g. toaster) dept. we have Dave Barker and Dr. Alimantado. Barker punctuates his I Got To Get Away with lots of “I just can’t stand it!” whilst the Doctor chats it up on three nice ‘versions’ utilizing the Paragon’s rididm, as Poison Flour, and two slightly different versions of another called I Shall Fear No Evil.
Last minute addition here, just found another well toasted cut by I-Roy as Noisy Place, as-I-would-tell-you.
Jump across the pond to the UK in the late 70’s and you have post punk outfit The Slits with their many renditions, featuring a preSiouxsie and the Banshees Budgie on drums and UK reggae ‘Lover’s Rock’ pioneer Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell in the producer’s seat. Included in this set is album version, 12″ version, 7″ dub version and two live cuts, the latter of which features different lyrics.
On-U records headliner, the late Bim Sherman, inexplicably eludes his reggae roots in favor of a more dance pop number. Sadly to say this early 90’s cut hasn’t aged well.
Another mysterious rendition included here is a dub cut that is attributed to, depending on which compilation you cull it from either Indiana Jones or Indiana James. In either case this 80’s/90’s tight rendition is stripped to bass, drums and almost mosquito like synthesizers for melody, punctuated with the residual echos.
Dutch ska/reggae outfit Rude Rich And The High Notes, best known in their country for backing such stalwarts as Alton Ellis and Derrick Morgan defend the flag of “original authentic Jamaican Music.” with both a regular and dub cut.
Lastly is Münster based, minimal dub/downtempo producer, Geyser whose ambient dub version probably strays the most from the original. Somewhere in the haze of heavy bass, chord strikes and sampled chatter you can just make out a “There’s a man that lives next dooooooor/ In my neighborhoooooood.

Whew. Time for me to find a quiet place.

Horace Andy – Quiet Place (Gorgon 104 A)
King Tubby & The AggravatorsDub Place (Gorgon 104 B)

Massive Attack – Man Next Door
Horace Andy and The Aggrovators (with Bill Laswell) – A Noisy Place

Dennis Brown – Man Next Door (extended)
Shinehead Man Next Door
George Nooks
Man Next Door
Dave Barker – I Got To Get Away

Dr. AlimantadoPoison Flour
Dr. AlimantadoI Shall Fear No Evil (Ital Sounds Single Version)

Dr. AlimantadoI Shall Fear No Evil
I-Roy – Noisy Place

The Slits – Man Next Door

The Slits – Man Next Door 12”

The Slits – Man Next Door (dub version)

The Slits – Man Next Door (London – 15-06-80)

The Slits – Man Next Door (London – 15-06-80) (different lyrics)

Bim Sherman And The Strange Parcels – Man Next Door
Indiana Jones (AKA Indiana James) – Man Next Door

Rude Rich And The High Notes – Man Next Door
Rude Rich And The High Notes – Dub Next Door
Geyser – Man Next Door

****Last minute addendum Tappa ZukieDub Next Door

Enjoy!
LS

The Shareef Do Like It

Friday, July 25th, 2008


Rock the Casbah. Oh, the timeliness of this track kills me. In 1982, The Clash wrote this track around heated tensions in the middle east, more specifically Iran and their hard line theocratic banning of all things western, especially rock and roll.

Over the years this top ten song would rear it’s head again and again.
Here’s a little trivia from Wikipedia:
“The song became an unofficial anthem for U.S. forces during the first Gulf War, largely on the basis of the line about dropping “bombs between the minarets”. It was the first song played by Armed Forces Radio at the start of the war. This is ironic given the band’s well established left-wing stance.

In 2006, the conservative National Review released their list of the top 50 “Conservative Rock Songs”, with “Rock the Casbah” at #20, noting its frequent requests during the Iraq War. Despite, or perhaps because of, its popularity with soldiers during the Gulf War, “Rock the Casbah” was one of the songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In one of the campfire scenes late in the 2007 documentary Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, a Granada friend states that Joe wept when he heard that the phrase “Rock the Casbah” was written on an American bomb that was to be detonated on Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. The friend avers that he heard Joe say, while crying, “Hey, man, I never could think that a song of mine could be written as a death symbol on a f—ing American bomb.”

So on today’s menu we have Japanese ‘Lover’s Rock’ vocalist Tica (with a likkle help from Smith & Mighty at the controls) who turns out a rather moribund version circa 2000. Perhaps foreshadowing things to come?

Ranking Roger and Pato Banton come again, for the 3rd(?) time with their dancehall inspired affair.

Lastly (and most creatively IMHO), tables are turned when Algerian/French musician Rachid Taha retools it as Arabic Pop for his Rock El Casbah.

So come catch a whiff of that crazy casbah jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive:

Tica – Rock The Casbah (Smith & Mighty Steppers Mix)
Pato Banton & Ranking Roger – Rock the Casbah
Rachid Taha – Rock el Casbah

Enjoy!
LS

Bloc Rockin Beats

Thursday, July 24th, 2008


Toronto-based Death From Above 1979 came and went as fast as one of their songs. But what little they did give us, mostly contained within their sole album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine was pop metal brilliance. They broke many hard rock conventions, the most salient of which was the eschewing of guitars in lieu of only a drum kit and a bass guitar. They were also probably one of the only metal/indie-hard rock bands in history, that, when asked about their influences replied, “Mostly Prince and Daft Punk”.
While everything pointed to them becoming the next big thing (appearances on Conan etc), like a lot of things seeming rosy on the surface, the band had already fallen apart. Pressure from the record company to make them stay together for appearances, had only managed to hold them together for about a year.
While Jesse F Keeler wasted no time unleashing his next project, the brilliant French house/disco inspired MSTRKRFT, the world is still waiting on what Sebastian Grainger is going to do next. Hints of what’s to come can be heard via various demos floating around the net, those starved for just a little bit more DFA 1979 may be temporarily satiated with the Does It Offend You Yeah single Let’s Make Out which features Grainger on vocals.
Before they split, DFA 1979 managed to crank out one more song. When UK dance-punkers, Bloc Party decided to wrangled a dirth of electronic and indie outfits to remix their debut album Silent Alarm, DFA 1979 the expectation defiers they were, went a step further and opted instead to cover their track Luno.

So, while we’re all holding our breath for the reunion, here’s:
Death From Above 1979 – Luno

Enjoy!
LS

Wordy Opponents

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008


Two Talking Heads, Tina Weymouth and hubby Chris Franz, took (what was then) a temporary hiatus for their world beat-reggae-electro-clusterfunk project Tom Tom Club. No funky stone was left unturned, as they enlisted Alex Weir (The Brothers Johnson), Tyrone Downie (The Wailers), Adrian Belew (King Crimson), Steven Stanley (producer for Black Uhuru, Sean Paul) and pulled them all under the roof of Sly and Robbie’s infamous Compass Point studios.Besides blessing the world with their seminal (and oft sampled) hit Genius of Love, they also cranked out their second hit wonder Wordy Rappinghood.
So far only two acts have been brave enough to cover this one. The first is by art damaged kraut clashers, Chicks on Speed, who bring in a whose who of women in electronica as backing vocals, including such luminaries as Kevin Blechdom, Le Tigre, Miss Kittin, Nicola Kuperus (Adult.), Soffy O (Tok Tok). I have also included the Trevor Jackson/Playgroup mix as it has a nice early ‘Downtown 80’s’ throwback sound. That and I’m a big fan (and somewhat aquaintance) of Trevor.
Next up is Belgian sexy couple Vive Le Fete, who push this track a bit further into cheekiness by enlisting Weymouth for vocals. They take their version so far into synth pop territory, that this actually doubles as two covers as the song chimerically changes tact to become New Order’s Blue Monday.
But hey, as the Tom Tom’s would say “It’s OK! I’ve Overstood! This is the Wordy Rappinghood!”

Chicks on Speed – Wordy Rappinghood
Chicks On Speed – Wordy Rappinghood (The Playgroup Remix)
Vive La Fete – Vive La Rappinghood

Enjoy!
LS

You’re Going To Miss My Dubbin’

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008


Here’s Philadelphia smooth crooner
Lou Rawls‘take it or leave it but don’t come crying to me if you don’t’ classic You’ll Never Find (Another Love like Mine), served up roots style.
Reggae legend
John Holt brings it with this Sly & Robbie backed 12″ cut, complete with dubbed out version and that trademark ‘Be-YUUUuuuu’ Sly Dumbar electronic snare hit.

This is a bit of an odd one, as the remaining two entries, Jackie Mittoo and The Dub Pistols are both steeped heavily in Holt’s “version”. Mittoo throws in a bit more echo and reverb while taking up the instrumental lead with his keyboard wizardry.
I was originally hesitant to include The Dub Pistols remake as it is more in line with classic versioning (new lyrics/vocals over original backing), but I thought I’d include it anyway for the novelty factor. It contains samples galore from the Holt version.

Grab em’ now, as you’ll never find, other cover versions like mine. (doh!)


John Holt & The Aggrovators – You’ll Never Find (12″ version)

Jackie Mittoo – You’ll Never Find
Dub Pistols – You’ll Never Find (Feat. Rodney P)

Enjoy!
LS

"So you showed your penis to the man from the greeting card company."

Monday, July 21st, 2008


Running down the pantheon of
David Bowie incarnations, using the Bowie-ometer scale (Ziggy Stardust Bowie for ‘Best’, Labyrinth Bowie for ‘Worst’),
Ashes to Ashes Bowie, probably ranks a cool second to last.
Sure he was fueled, at least visually, by the criminally under appreciated Blitz Kids, but his Pierrot costume smacked a bit of ‘Me Too’, as if he’d been dumpster diving behind Klaus Nomi’s apartment. Oh and it’s Pierrot,
f*&^% Pierrot! A sad clown. A mime. It immediately conjures up visions of my first girlfriend’s bedroom; tragedy/comedy masks (with ribbon!), Erte sculptures and that hideous Doisneau print of that French couple making out next to the subway.
That aside, musically speaking, this is high point Bowie, very high point. The
trippy introspection, the guitar- synth warblings, the revisiting of earlier Bowie-an archetypes all blend together to make Ashes to Ashes a classic.
So today’s would-be
Pierrots are:
LB (aka Lassigue Bendthaus, aka Uwe Schmidt aka Atom Heart aka Señor Coconut aka ad infinitum etc etc…) with his click and buzz, robotic vocal version; the normally upbeat Hakan Lidbo‘s bizzaro industrial-glitch rendition. Trip Hop pioneers The Sneaker Pimp‘s downtempo cut. Happy Rhodes channels her inner Joan Baez/Kate Bush in a rather downbeat affair. 80’s Alt-Synth-Poppers Tear for Fears do a fairly standard “Cover Version” and The String Quartet take on it is, well, probably somewhat self explanatory.

LB – Ashes to Ashes
Hakan LidboAshes to Ashes
Sneaker Pimps – Ashes to Ashes
Happy Rhodes – Ashes To Ashes [Acoustic Cover]
Tears For Fears – Ashes To Ashes
String Quartet Tribute To David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

Enjoy!
LS

PS Couldn’t find a pic of “String Quartet”- sorry!
PPS Sorry about today’s title. If it’s too obscure, shame on you. Here’s a hint.

Ultra-Violence

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

For a band that has been around for almost 30 years, it’s remarkable that Depeche Mode hasn’t squeaked out more covers. Sure, individual projects such as Recoil and Martin L. Gore have turned up a quite a bit, but Mode’s total of three choices are as puzzling as they are few; Bobby Troupe’s Route 66, Iggy Pop’s Dirt and today’s entry Sonata No.14 (aka Moonlight Sonata) by Ludwig van Beethoven. Sonata was originally recorded as a B-Side to the not originally-intedended-to-be-a-single Little 15.
Here’s a little trivia from Wikipedia:
“There was no remix of the song “Little 15″ at the time of release (the 12″ and 7” versions were the same); however, there are two instrumental B-Sides, both piano tunes performed by Alan Wilder. The first is “Stjarna” (mislabelled “St. Jarna”), which is Icelandic for ‘star’, written by Martin Gore. The 12″ B-side also contains a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata #14.” According to his website, Wilder did not intend for it to be on as a B-Side, he was merely performing it for fun, but Gore stealthily recorded it. Wilder did not perform the song perfectly (his error occurs near the end of the song). “

So here she is.
Lean back, close your eyes and pretend you’re at your kid’s piano recital.

Depeche Mode – Sonata No. 14 In C#m (Moonlight Sonata)

Enjoy!
LS

Elbow Room

Sunday, July 20th, 2008


Admit it,
Charlie’s Angels (the movie not the TV show) was pretty cheese. The only two highlights were Crispin Glover and Destiny’s Child‘s gem of female empowerment, Independent Women.
If there’s one woman whose taken that to heart, it’s BBC Radio One’s Jo Whiley, whose been championing indie music of all varieties on her utterly excellent program The Jo Whiley Show since 199
7.
So leave it to the critically lauded, but commercially under appreciated indie band
Elbow to return the favor by performing their hilarious northern town folk rendition of Independent Women for her birthday (complete with accordions).
So may I recommend you relegate your
Charlies’s Angels DVDs to the drink coaster stack and just watch this, or download the song below, or both. Do both.


Elbow – Independent Women (Jo Whiley Show)

Enjoy!
LS

Gettin’ All Misty

Friday, July 18th, 2008


Was only planing on posting one version of, Erroll Garner‘s classic, Misty today, which was The Friends of Dean Martinez cut, when I realized that the old Stotch archive had no less than 8 versions, all amazing. (yes I know there’s WAAAY more than 8 out there). This is a personal fave standard, whenever I hear it I immediately think of being on a stoop(NYC) or a porch(LA) on a late summer night, drinking cheap red wine, preferably out of a box.
So, in addition to the above mentioned indie slide guitar version, this entry is a veritable grab bag of genres.
Frank Sinatra delivers, well, as only a rat packer in his prime could deliver.
Lou Donaldson
tears it up with his with his sax and organ-North-Beach-beatnik-dive-bar-with-bad-carpets version.
Representing Jamaica we have Alton Ellis & ZootScullySimms along with two versions from multi instrumentalist Jo Jo Bennett & The Mudies All Stars, regular and dub fi gone crazy version.
And saving the best for last, neoitalo disco/electroclash pioneer, Daniel Wang, clocks in with two distinctly different, almost theremin-sent, renditions.
Unrelated side note here: I used to work for a big electronic music rag, and of all those pretentious little egos I had to endure during my tenure, Danny Wang is by far the NICEST person in electronica, ever. Go buy all of his albums and if you see him on the street be sure to compliment him on his scarf choices.

Friends Of Dean Martinez – Misty
Frank Sinatra – Misty
Lou Donaldson – Misty
Alton Ellis & ZootScullySimmsMisty (Music Lab 10in version)
Jo Jo Bennett & Mudies All Stars – Misty (Moodisc DSR 6792-A)
Mudies All Stars – Misty Dub (Moodisc DSR 6793-B)
Daniel Wang – Misty (Idealism 2001 version)
Daniel Wang – Misty (Idealism 2005 version)

Enjoy!
LS

Damon Take A Bow

Thursday, July 17th, 2008


Covering a Smiths‘ song represents the ultimate
dilemma; To sing, or not to sing, like Morrissey. The former risks you sounding like an asshat in a cover band, and the latter, well, just plain dull.
Or, speaking of hats, you can do what Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) cheekily did and bow out altogether by covering their only instrumental,
Oscillate Wildly
.
Sorry Moz, won’t be needing you today.

Badly Drawn Boy – Oscillate Wildly [BBC Radio Session]

Enjoy!
LS

Roky Roads

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008


If America were to have it’s own home grown equivalent of Syd Barrett, it would be Roky Erickson, a gifted, rising star, songwriter whose eccentricities would eventually get the best of him, hastened in no small part to drugs and latent schizophrenia. Before his downfall, Roky, and his band The 13th Floor Elevators managed to crank out a few minor hits like You’re Gonna Miss Me and Splash 1 (today’s feature). Though they would slip off the radar shortly after take off (with Roky’s institutionalization) this only marked what would be the start for their long lasting and indelible impact, one which continues to this day. Stars as early as Janis Joplin and the Byrds would cite Erickson’s proto-psychedelic sound as being heavily influential. While the Allman Brothers REM and ZZ Top during 70’s/80’s would name check him too, it wasn’t until the 90’s (helped, no doubt, by the release of Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson) when contemporary bands such as Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3 would all start to cop to his clout.

What baffles me however is, that despite all the heaps of admonition mentioned above, why he hasn’t been covered more. Especially in regards to today’s entry Splash 1, of which the latest known cover being The Mighty Lemon Drops‘ version, who managed to retain some of the same bitter sweetness, while adding their own Bunnymen-esque flourishes to it. Also in this block are the totally obscure, but apparently quick on the gun, 60’s psych group The Clique, whose take came only one year later and marked the very first 13th Floor cover. Sandwiched in between is the art damaged Bongwater, who get the ‘World’s Biggest Kooks Award’ for their Mama & the Papas on Red Bull rendition (surprise! they were on Ralph ‘home of The Residents’ Records at the time)

Fortunately, unlike poor Syd, this story has a happy ending. Erickson was eventually released in 1975, and despite fits and starts over the years, both musically and personally, he now finds himself playing steadily to sell out shows, hopefully influencing whole new generations (who will hopefully make us all some more cover versions damnit!).

The Mighty Lemon Drops – Splash #One (Now I’m Home)
Clique – Splash 1
Bongwater – Splash 1

Enjoy!
LS

And Now For This Brief Message

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Wading through what seems like an ocean of cover versions of The Police‘s Message in a Bottle seems to turn up an inordinate amount of metal tributes.
One would think songs like
Synchronicity II, Mother!, or hell even Wrapped Around Your Finger (which contains the freebieMephistopheles is not your name’) would be a lot more enticing to the Headbanger’s Ball set.
Well I’m going to pull nerd rank here, and only allow the one version that managed to slip below the radar of both Wikipedia and The Covers Project (both excellent sites mind you), by featuring Ibiwunmi Omotayo Olufunke Olaiya –
a.k.a. Wunmi.
If you’re like 99.9% of the public you may have missed her career, as it’s been lurking (developing!) in the shadows of the underground UK dance scene for years.
One place you may have seen her is, how she got her start, as that iconic dancing silhouette in Soul II Soul’s classic Back to Life video. From there she has gone on be vocalist at the ready for the likes of King Britt’s Oba Funke, Masters at Work, Afro-tinged deep house outfit Osunlade, Compost Record’s flagship Trüby Trio, and broken beat think tank, Bugz In The Attic.
She managed to finally come out of the shadows and into her own with 2007’s
A.L.A. (African Living Abroad) where she recorded this frenetic, Afro-Beat tinged take on Message, which you’ll agree sounds better than having to endure Leatherface or Incubus. Bang yo’ Head!

Wunmi – S.O.S. (Message in a Bottle)

Enjoy!
LS


Soft Sell On The Soup Strainer

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Dave Ball’s moustache. There, said it. The black, fuzzy elephant in the room. What was the deal with that? By the early 80’s most nose neighbors had rode out on the sunset with the Marlboro man, but not for some. Ladies and Gentleman I give you the Garçon, the original ironic mustache. Although found commonly in duets, Les Rita Mitsouko, The Sparks, and today’s entry Soft Cell, it had also managed to crawl it’s way onto the upper lips of Fred Schneider (B-52’s), John Waters and the maitrede of a restaurant that catered to a certain Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago. So forget mohawks, safety pins and piercings, what could be more punk rock, more disturbing, than a tache that says, French waiter by day/trench coat and ladies knickers by night. 20-something years on, long since most garçon alumni have dropped theirs (save John Waters) this particular brand of mobile tea strainer still manages to offend.
It’s somehow fitting then when Mark Almond classified his electro pop outfit Soft Cell as ‘punk’, as he took Vivienne Westwood Soho’s sleaze and shock culture to it’s natural conclusion. His catchy synth tunes trojan-horsed nihilistic lyrics of subjects like murder, drugs, the broken dreams of suburbia and intercourse with people of diminutive stature.
While Tainted Love will probably be covered ad infinitum for the next 6 millennia, east coast electro outfit Ganymede astutely opt to go out on limb with their rendition of Chips on My Shoulder.
Now if we can only get them to go the whole hog and rock the mo’, the lip rug, the fanny duster, the face fungus, the grass grin etc etc.
Until then, here’s:

GanymedeChips on My Shoulder

Enjoy!
LS

Rockin’ On Sunshine

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

There’s something about soul that makes for an easy traverse into reggae/rocksteady and Bill Wither‘s hauntingly beautiful (or is that beautifully haunting?) track Ain’t No Sunshine is no exception.
Sure it’s been covered to death by just about everyone from Al Green to Van Morrison, but call it hardship, the blues, clean living under difficult circumstances,
whathaveyou, nobody comes close to capturing that soul quite like Jamaica. Dominating this track are island favorites, Jimmy Lindsay, Boris Gardiner, (my fave version!) Ken Boothe, and part-time Massive Attack moonlighter Horace Andy, who apparently loved it so much he decided to cover it no less than four times. Ain’t no problem with that.

Ken Boothe – Ain’t No Sunshine
Jimmy Lindsay – Ain’t No Sunshine
Boris Gardiner – Ain’t No Sunshine
Horace Andy – Ain’t No Sunshine (Triple Dons Version)
Horace Andy – Ain’t No Sunshine (Studio One Soul Version)
Horace Andy – Ain’t No Sunshine (Jaguar Records Version)
Horace Andy – Ain’t No Sunshine (??? Version)

Enjoy!
LS

By Pressing Down a Special Key It Plays a Little Melody

Saturday, July 12th, 2008


Confession: I’m a Serge Gainsbourg f a n a t i c.
Got all the albums
check. Downloaded all the YouTube vids check. Read the seminal bio ‘Fistful of Gitanes, which ranks, in my opinion, second only to ‘Dirt – The Motley Crue Story’ in terms of rock star excess check.
Serge was the consummate badass. Fav highlights include:
• Being the songwriter du
jour for most of the 60’s French Pop scene, while simultaneously loading it with double entendres (See Les sucettes/Lollipops).
• Cutting reggae albums with Sly and Robbie.
• Reaching for his smokes not more than 5 minutes after coming to, from having major heart surgery.
• Burning money live on TV, to protest taxes.
• Saying ‘I wanna fuck you’ to Whitney Houston, also live on TV.
• Despite ranking somewhere between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tolouse Letrec in the looks department, still being able to pull femmes like Bridget Bardot and Jane Birkin.
And last but not least, giving us Charlotte! (though to be fair at least 1/2 that credit might go to Birkin).
Man, given his legacy, Serge is a hard act to cover.
But these four; ex-Birthday Party/Bad Seeder
Mick Harvey, musician’s musician Fred Frith, Bristol trip hop disappearing act Portishead and Placebo (incidentally, do they have ANY songs of their own?), all give it the college try with their renditions of The Ballad of Melody Nelson. It’s the charming story of a meandering French pervert who strikes up a relationship with a teenage English girl, after clobbering her with his Rolls. As you can see, Serge really plumbed the depths for that storyline 😉 .

So without further adieu, here’s
Fred FrithThe Ballad of Melody Nelson
Mick Harvey – The Ballad of Melody Nelson
Placebo – The Ballad of Melody Nelson
Portishead (with Jane Birkin) – The Ballad of Melody Nelson

Enjoy!
LS