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Archive for October, 2008

Control Issues

Friday, October 31st, 2008

She’s Lost Control pt 1
Arguably Joy Division‘s second most known song next to Love Will Tear Us Apart, She’s Lost Control, was the irony upon ironies for poor Ian Curtis. Written when Curtis worked for the city health services, it was about a girl he encountered there who had a debilitating case of epilepsy. A short time later, in the midst of Joy Division’s ascendancy, he too would develop chronic seizures. As a remedy the doctors advised him to avoid late nights, flashing lights and drinking, pretty much crippling his life long dream of becoming a rock star and signaling the spiraling down of his life as a whole.

She’s Lost Control pt 2 (another personal disclosure story)
I worked on an ill-fated Joy Division music and merchandise project. My dream came true when I got asked by the Joy Division estate (New Order, Tony Wilson, Debbie Curtis, Peter Saville) to come up with cool projects and products to be timed around the release of Control and Grant Gee’s amazing documentary. Came up with a good half dozen ideas that got green lighted for production when the ghost of Ian Curtis struck hard. While I won’t get into the specifics as it’s a long story, I slowly watched as each project one by one fell apart in front of my eyes. Nothing to do with my abilities, all just puzzling random acts of God that left me scratching my head going ‘You got to be fucking kidding me.’ as each new disaster began to unravel. And outside of this, New Order broke up and Tony Wilson became gravely ill; both rendering the project to the back burners.
The silver lining in the end though was, under a completely different circumstance, a year or so later being asked by the folks from Control to design a limited edition shirt for the premiere. Yay, happy ending.

She’s Lost Control pt 3
Like most cult bands/songs, dodgy covers abound. So weeding out the shite from the champagne, we’ve got a nice little selection of versions for you today. Starting off as always with my fave, Grace Jones (with the enlisted help of Sly & Robbie) turns Control on it’s head with her eerie reggae and dub versions. Siobhan Fahey (with Agent Provocateur), black sheep of Bananarama and founder of Shakespeare’s Sister, channels her inner demons from an earlier mental bout of her own, on her nerve rattling cut. Neil Landstrumm incorporates a bit of dubstep in his wonky techno rendition. Portugal’s X-Wife punk-synth version whose liberal use of the vocoder begs the question; what if Stephen Hawking had been born in Manchester? Fans of early ‘cold wave’ and Flexi Pop singles will surely enjoy 80’s Greek outfit Alive She Died. Where there’s a cult fave you’ll surely find Vitamin String Quartet plucking their bows. While everybody has surely heard it at this point, I still feel compelled to include Boys Against Girls, who would probably prefer to do more of this over being stuck in a hot tour van all day with a whiney Gina Gershon. And lastly, and I’m probably crossing the covers-only line with this but, I decided to included a handful of live New Order versions with them covering their old alma mater.

Grace Jones – She’s Lost Control (Long Version)
Grace Jones – She’s Lost Control (Dub Version)
Agent Provocateur ft Siobhan Fahey – She’s Lost Control
Neil Landstrumm – She’s Lost Control
X-Wife – She’s Lost Control
Alive She Died – She’s Lost Control
Vitamin String Quartet – She’s Lost Control
Girls Against Boys – She’s Lost Control

New Order – She’s Lost Control (2005-06-24 Hyde Park London XFM)

New Order – She’s Lost Control (1985-12-13 Orleans, France)
New Order – She’s Lost Control (Finsbury Park 9th June 02)
New Order – She’s Lost Control (Live in Hultsfred Festival 15.07.02)
New Order – She’s Lost Control (Live 29-06-2002)
New Order – She’s Lost Control (soundcheck @ ???)


Just On Principle

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I have to admit, this is probably one of the more clever covers to to come across my desk recently.
For classic house music fans who like a little indie with their dance,
Friendly Fires
‘ brilliant remake of proto-house track Your Love by
Jamie Principle
(with Frankie Knuckles) will be an inspired treat.
The Neo-Post-Punk-Disco-House revolution starts here.

Friendly Fires – Your Love


Hey I’m Walking Here!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Wikipedia sums up today’s entry quite tidily:

Walk on the Wild Side is a Lou Reed song from his 1972 second solo album Transformer. It was produced by David Bowie. The song received wide radio coverage, despite its touching on topics such as transsexuality, drugs, male prostitutes and oral sex and the term “colored” to refer to African Americans.

The lyrics tell of a series of individuals and their journeys to New York City, and is a thinly-veiled biography of several of the regular “superstars” at Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory, namely Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his nickname Sugar Plum Fair.

Everybody loves a shout out eh? Today’s Wild Side transformers are are quite an eclectic lot. Starting off is my pick of the day, DJ Disse, whose instrumental downtempo version is loaded with lot’s of nice dubby effects. More jazzy downtempo goodness also comes from the likes of Arcoiris and Andre Caccarelli and Stephy Haik.
Stuttgart ska stalwarts, No Sports remake theres as a beach side reggae number.
If I had a second pick for today it would most certainly be Albert Pla and his nice little Spanish acoustic version El Lado Mas Bestia De La Vida.
Some more laid back versions come from ex-D Generation glam punker Jesse Malin and Tok Tok Tok, whose acoustic-soul version gets nice little back beat courtesy of some human beatboxing.
Nothing sounds as charming as French girls who sing in English, and Mrs. Depp aka Vanessa Paradis purrs through hers rather sweetly.
If laid back aint your bag we have a few get up and dance versions. You can either bust out your bellbottoms for Herbie Mann‘s disco number or slather yourself in Vicks and jack to the sound of a surprising acid house version from Charm. Or if those are little to upbeat, you can light up a clove and dance to till your steel plated Mad Max boots fall off with Un-4-Scene‘s EBM version.
Some great live versions are here too from The Strokes, late great Clash founder Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, as well as a Peel Session from early UK punks The Skids.
And lastly we have 80’s europops Coco M and a great WTF?!?! version from German entertainer Gerty Molzen who recorded her 1984 version at the sprightly age of 79.

DJ Disse – Walk On The Wild Side
Arcoiris – Walk On The Wild Side
Andre Caccarelli and Stephy Haik –
Walk On The Wild Side
No Sports –
Walk On The Wild Side
Albert Pla – El Lado Mas Bestia De La Vida (Walk On The Wild Side)
Jesse Malin –
Walk On The Wild Side
Tok Tok Tok –
Walk On The Wild Side
Vanessa Paradis –
Walk On The Wild Side
Herbie Mann –
Walk On The Wild Side
Charm –
Walk On The Wild Side
Un-4-Scene –
Walk On The Wild Side
The Strokes –
Walk On The Wild Side (Live)
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – Walk On The Wild Side (Live at St. Ann’s, Brooklyn)
The Skids – Walk On The Wild Side (Peel Session)
Coco M – Walk On The Wild Side
Gerty Molzen – Walk On The Wild Side



Sense of Wonder

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

“Stevie Wonder is a MUSICAL GENIUS, motherfucker! A musical genius! I have ALL of his albums. I have MUSIC on my MIND, I have motherfucking TALKING BOOKS, I have Fulfillingn.., Fulfillin– fuck it, you know, the good one!
Ah I miss the old Eddie Murphy, don’t you?
Well as I’m sure you figured out by now, today’s musical selection is Stevie Wonder and we have some great reggae covers of My Cherie Amour from the likes of Barry Biggs, Harry J All Stars and Michael Palmer.

Barry Biggs – My Cherie Amour
Harry J All Stars – My Cherie Amour
Michael Palmer – My Cherie Amour


The Hills

Monday, October 27th, 2008

A bit of trivia: A few days before Kate Bush was to release what would become her biggest selling and most widely known single, Running Up That Hill, the NME had run, ironically enough, a “Where are they now?” article featuring her (Hmm..A little bit of salt with that foot guys?).
Today’s would-be hill climbers are retro synth poppers the Chromatics and Purple Crush as well as disgruntled ex-ZTT records progenies Claudia Brucken & Andrew Poppy.

Chromatics – Running Up That Hill
Purple Crush – Running Up That Hill
Claudia Brucken & Andrew Poppy – Running Up That Hill


Machineries of Joy

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Well if music is truly international language then sex, ahem, must come soon after, as we have quite a UN’s worth of James Brown‘s Sex Machine covers here today. So around the world in 18 tracks we go.
Debarking, we start with the good ole US and A, represented here by the lo-fi Jad Fair, funky rare groovers the John Wagner Coalition, African Jazz sax-man Plunky & Oneness Of JuJu, wildly missed rubenesque rappers The Fat Boys, boogaloo pioneer Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, downtempo wizard Q-Burns Abstract Message and Iggy Pop, whose version is probably only remarkable for the fact that it’s, well, Iggy Pop.
Spain’s Rabbits & Carrots puts the Latin funk back in their Spanish version.
UK’s Flying Lizards (which includes VG fave renaissance chap David Toop) deliver a very calculated stiff and proper version or as wikipedia describes it “deliberately emotionless, harsh and robotic (in) style.”
Germany seems to turn out a disproportionate amount of good, yet totally absurd, lounge acts and today’s post is no exception with Helge Schneider who was last seen singing, no joke, his #1 hit Katzeklolied (Kitty Litter Box Song) which goes a little something like this: “Katzenklo, Katzenklo, ja das macht die Katze froh” (“Kitty litter tray, kitty litter tray, that’s what makes the kitty gay.”)
Italy’s hippest export since olive oil, Cosa Nostra, and dodgy Versace silk shirts, Italo-Disco comes today in the form of synth-pop one hitter Bilbo.
A few funky Français numbers exist from Le Robin Orchestral, Les Eponges (with their Machine A Sexe) and bridging the Algerian-French connection is rai-funkster Malik Adouane.
India’s main axe, the sitar, get’s the lead with Bill “Ravi” Harris‘ version
From Japan we have bizarre funk trio Ex-Girl and j-mod-poppers Pizzicato Five.
And I wouldnt be meeting my VG reggae quota if I didn’t rep Jamaica, so rounding off this world tour is Dave Barker, barking loudly.

Jad Fair – Sex Machine
John Wagner Coalition – Sex Machine
Plunky & Oneness Of JuJu – Sex Machine
The Fat Boys – Sex Machine
Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers – Sex Machine
Q-Burns Abstract Message – Sex Machine
Iggy Pop – Sex Machine
Rabbits and Carrots – Sex Machine
The Flying Lizards – Sex Machine
Helge Schneider – Sex Machine
Bilbo – Sex Machine
Le Robin Orchestral – Sex Machine
Les Eponges – Machine A Sexe
Malik Adouane – Sex Machine
Bill “Ravi” Harris & The Prophets – Sex Machine
Ex-Girl – Sex Machine
Pizzicato Five – Sex Machine
Dave Barker – Sex Machine


Girls, Girls, Girls

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Duran Duran and Afrobeat aren’t a combination that you’d expect to see walking hand in hand across the bridge at midnight, but the Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra manages to pull off Girls On Film with all the slickness of
Simon Le Bon’s hairdo.

Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra – Girls On Film

Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra – Girls On Film (Instrumental)
** The Droyds – Girls on Pills


** Last minute bonus: The Droyds resurface here again with their electrosleaze cover retitled Girls on Pills.

Ghost Town Killahs

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

As we inch toward Halloween, I thought I’d drag out Ghost Town, The Specials last and greatest hurrah. I’m also dragging it out because it was released, ironically enough, in response to the (UK’s) then conservative government’s failed economic policies that resulted in massive layoffs and unemployment. Sound familiar?
But as far as the inner workings of the single itself, an excellent behind the scenes article on the making of Ghost Town can be found here.
Specialists for this post are: New saviors of all things mod and my pick for today The Dead 60s, bitch smackers and part time arsonists The Prodigy and a couple of live versions from Sam Dunkworth’s indie outfit Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. and Specials original vox skeptici (and my personal hero) Terry Hall with perennially indignant trip hopper Tricky.

The Dead 60s – Ghost Town
The Prodigy – Ghost Town
Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly – Ghost Town (Live for NME)
Terry Hall with Tricky – Ghost Town (Live)


2008:A Breaks Odyssey

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Here is what 2001:A Space Odyssey might have sounded like had it took place in Harlem, in the 1970’s. Hard hitting boogaloo trio, The Sugarman Three deep fry the iconic Theme from 2001 (AKA Also sprach Zarathustra) in some heavy, breaks-worthy funk.

Sugarman Three – 2001


Just Say Non

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Dawn Penn‘s ubiquitous No, No, No (You Don’t Love Me) gets the Gallic re-rub here as Non, Non, Non by French trip hop chanteuse Melaaz (backed by Phillipe Zdar of Cassius/Le Funk Mob fame).

Melaaz – Non Non Non


The Man With The Iron Task

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Full disclosure on today’s Black Sabbath – Iron Man covers: I recently did some design and creative project producing for Birmingham’s blackest. The experience was definitely fun, but also odd to say the least. It mostly consisted of me sliding work under Sharon’s door (figuratively speaking) and waiting a month for the mysterious thumbs up or thumbs down. It also had me, depending on the day/mood/hour, photoshopping in, or out ,various members heads when they got in bickering matches over who looked older, or taller, or got to wear a leather trench coat and threatened to walk off the project.
Oh ego, is there any proportion you can’t swell to?
So in my delving into all things Sabbath for nine months I built up quite an arsenal of Iron Man covers. From the top we have some great electronica versions. Terranova and the Detroit Pubahs come together as Lotterboys and deliver not one but two versions ;the second one, Iron Girl featuring electrohottie Princess Superstar on vocal duties. Folktronica poster boy Four Tet and the scratch-worthy Fingathing take theirs downtempo. Opium Jukebox pop out of the basket again for their heavy sitar rendition and the sadly defunct Add N to X sees them kicking out the analog jams.
The heavy metal equivalent of jazz, The Bad Plus, sound like they’re on the verge of snapping strings while The Lounge Brigade samba their way through theirs. And you can almost hear the sound of glasses clinking in the background of Giant Sand‘s cocktail take.
Today’s answer to Hooked on Classics, The String Quartet Tribute To…, grind their Stradivariun axes and the Michigan Marching Band brief version will have you wishing their was a BSU.
Hip Hop has always had a love affair with metal and today’s Ozzys on M I C are Sir Mix-A-Lot, Busta Rhymes and a spit-tacular beat box version from Rahzell.
And bookending this entry we got Swede-poppers The Cardigans (eFF-you I
eFFing LOVE this version), avant guardists and music school fodder Zu & Eugene Chadbourne and Christmas comes early with prolific parody producer Bob RiversI Am Santa Claus. Ho ho ho.

LotterboysIron Man (Album Version)

LotterboysIron Girl (Feat Princess Superstar)
Four Tet – Iron Man
FingathingIron Man
Opium Jukebox – Iron Man
Add N to X – Iron Man

The Bad Plus – Iron Man
The Lounge Brigade – Iron Man
Giant Sand – Iron Man
String Quartet Tribute To Black Sabbath – Iron Man
Michigan Marching Band – Iron Man

Busta Rhymes – Iron Man (This Means War)
Sir Mix-A-Lot – Iron Man
Rahzell Iron Man

The Cardigans – Iron Man
Zu & Eugene ChadbourneIron Man
Bob Rivers – I Am Santa Claus


The Fearless Vampire Thrillers

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Vampire Weekend have endured a lot of critical flack; “trust fund frat rock” “the whitest band u know” and “the new Paul Simons“. The latter of which, in all their upper west side soukousness, I’m sure they would take as a badge of honor. So if we’re to bring back all things 80’s, then why not that period of time when rock met Afro-Pop? From Malcolm McClaren and
Bow Wow Wow to Talking Heads, from The Special AKA, to yes, Paul Simon, when 80’s pop music needed a true change in tact, they all wisely dropped en vogue keyboards and took a much needed trip back to Africa. Especially critical too when the problems in South Africa and Ethiopia were so heated and any attention at that point would be good attention.
So the fact that all eyes these days are back on Africa, and given that creativity in indie rock has more or less plateaued, a band like Vampire Weekend is a welcomed change.
And if their Kind Sunny Ade meets Pitchfork formula hasn’t rammed that point home yet, here is the Malawi born Esau Mwamwaya along with the boys from Radioclit (together as The Very Best) adding a bit more Kwassa to their cover of VW’s Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit) – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa


Getting Laid

Friday, October 17th, 2008

As a youth, hearing White Horse by Laid Back on my little FM transistor, was perplexing. Why were they so insistent that I not ride a white horse? How come the white pony got off so off so relatively easy? And was the only formula for getting ahead in the world to act like a spoiled little princess (whome I assumed got to ride that white horse?).
Also, for some inexplicable reason, I was convinced this song was being sung by Trinidadian giant and character actor Geoffrey Holder. Did the part time 7 Up spokesman have a thing for the bitchy little white girl on the pony?
Tiny little inquiring minds wanted to know.
Somewhere down the road of course I learned that the song was about avoiding heroin, and it was sung, not by a large shiny domed black man bearing non-caffeinated drinks but by a couple of diminutive Scandinavians with a keyboard, thereby shattering my pre-pubescent, and somewhat ambiguously racist, scenario. Ironic considering the flipside was a track called Sunshine Reggae.
Funky electro jockeys for today are Wonderland Avenue, Queen Of Japan, my pick of today’s litter Sydney electroclash newcomers Pomomofo, and a smashing merengue version para el grupo superbo Señor Coconut And His Orchestra.
Oh and another cover from a mysterious little band called D’ Luxe (or as they’re better known by their day jobs, Laid Back)

Wonderland Avenue – White Horse
Queen Of Japan – White Horse
PomomofoRide The White Horse
Señor Coconut And His Orchestra – White Horse
D’ LuxeWhite Horse


PS Sorry about the lateness of today’s (soon to be yesterday’s) post, Z Share is on the fritz yet again! Thank god for Mediafire.

Ellis Island

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Jamaica mourns a national treasure as Alton Ellis (September 1, 1938 – October 10, 2008) passed on the other day. Alton’s legacy and impact spanned three genres of reggae; roots, ska and rocksteady. The latter of those was coined from his single Rock Steady, while his most notable hit Girl I’ve Got a Date is arguably one of the first songs of the genre.
In tribute I’ve rounded up reggae’s best and brightest here with their covers of Alton’s Girl I’ve Got A Date.

Dennis Brown & Trinity – Girl I’ve Got a Date
Fabian Cooke & Wackies Rhythm Force – Girl I’ve Got A Date
Freddie Notes & RudiesGirl I’ve Got A Date
Joseph Cotton – Girl I’ve Got a Date
Ken Lazarus with Byron Lee & The DragonairesGirl I’ve Got A Date
King Sporty – Girl I’ve Got A Date

Enjoy! (and rest in peace Alton)

Freaky Styley

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Cover maven(s) Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra tackles Missy Elliot‘s bhangra-tastic big hit Get UR Freak On, resembling something akin to Pancho Villa on a surfing safari.

Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra – Get UR Freak On


2wo for the Road

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Interesting fact about Song 2 (the ‘woohoo’ song) by Blur: It’s exactly 2 minutes and 2 seconds long, reached #2 on the UK and Australian charts and is the 2nd song on both their self-titled album Blur as well as the The Best of. Personally I always found Blur’s singles to be their weakest efforts but ultimately effective, drawing the average listener into the full album where their richer material always lies.
Earl Zinger, Rob Gallagher’s cheeky alter ego when he’s not busy with the stately future-jazz outfit Two Banks Of Four, turn’s Albarn’s stadium chanter into a dubby steppers-reggae number rechristened as Song 2wo.

Earl Zinger – Song 2wo


Life’s What You Make It

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Wow, it seems like only yesterday when I was bitching about how there’s barely any electronica covers and then faster than you can say ‘TR-909’ we got two covers of Detroit techno anthem Strings of Life by Rythim Is Rythim (aka Derrick May). The ever percussive Christian Prommer (of Fauna Flash and Truby Trio fame) turns his Strings into a very Blue Note affair with his Christian Prommer’s Drumlesson project, while Acid Brass rears it’s French horn yet again with their military brass band take.

Christian Prommer’s DrumlessonStrings of Life
Acid Brass – Strings of Life


UFOs are Real

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Pioneer dance-punk outfit ESG (AKA Emerald, Sapphire and Gold) were one of Factory records rare US acts and their instrumental UFO was another landmark feather in the cap for producer Martin Hannet. Today’s covers come from Unrest, whose devotion to Factory records comes short of a restraining order and the other is a ‘vocal’ version by the Liars entitled Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris (With ESG)

Unrest – UFO
Liars – Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris (With ESG)


Peoples’ Choice

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

It’s finally fucking over!!!! I’m free!
As you’ve read (if you read these at all) I’ve been battling a pernicious little kidney stone issue, hence the drifting in and out of this blog as of late.
Pleased to announce they pulled (surgically-speaking) not one stone but FIVE of those pointy little bastards (the sum total).
Celebration is in order and what better way than with a favorite celebration tune Don’t Stop The Music by Yarbrough & Peoples.
Here’s four covers, not a mediocre one in the lot, from future-jazz contingent Bugz in the Attic, UK electronic dub pioneers Rockers Hi Fi, as well as a couple of great reggae cuts from Carlene Davis and Sly & Robbie (under their Bits And Pieces moniker).

Bugz In The Attic – Don’t Stop The Music
Rockers Hi-FiD.T.I. (Don’t Stop The Music)
Carlene Davis – Don’t Stop The Music
Carlene Davis – Don’t Stop The Music (Version)
Bits And Pieces (aka Sly & Robbie) – Don’t Stop The Music


On The Attack

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

One would think trying to cover anything by Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins fame) would prove a pretty fruitless task, especially if you’re a guy. But Swedish born José González manages to pull off this acoustic version of Teardrop by Massive Attack with more than aplomb.

José González – Teardrop