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Archive for June, 2010

That’s Special.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

“BERNIE RHODES KNOWS DON’T ARGUE!”
Y’know that first line of The Specials‘ (AKA The Special A.K.A.) Gangsters was always an inaudible mystery to me. For those of us in the US, the Chrysalis Records domestic was a cheaply released piece of monkey mess that didn’t bother to include the lyric sheet, so all I heard was ‘HASHJIMOJIMO DOEARGUE!’. Funny enough on the back of the record was a small line that said ‘For lyrics sheet please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to..’. So I sent one, six years after the fact and still dying to know what like 90% of what the hell they were shouting. Even funnier was that Chrysalis eventauly replied, randomly enough like 5 YEARS LATER, on a letterhead that had been re-xeroxed so many times it resembled the Magna Carta. ‘Thank you LEOPOLD STOTCH for inquiring about THE SPECIALS LYRIC SHEETS. Sorry at this time we are currently out. In the future, should more become available we will send one to you.’ I think in some tiny part of my mind, every time I go to the mailbox now Iim still secretly holding out that it will arrive, 20 something years later.
So long story made short,
Bernie Rhodes was their strong armed, strong willed manager, more infamously known as the manager and unofficial 5th wheel of The Clash.
Virtually all ska bands feel the pull of doing a cover and The Specials were no different. Today’s pick Gangsters
, was itself a reworking of an earlier Prince Buster track called Al Capone, but that’s a different spoon to bend. Here we have 8 covers of The Specials’ debut. Kicking off we have a cheeky country & western version by The Hyperions and an electro/ska cut by Citizen King. No one sings it quite like original lead Terry Hall, a fact not lost on either UK big beaters The Dub Pistols or pint size perky pop sensation (and daughter of cockney royalty Keith Allen) Lily Allen who invite him to guest. And lastly like a cover trapped in an echo chamber we see original lead singers Terry Hall and Neville Staple revisiting old pastures as the Fun Boy Three as well as Neville on a solo tip.

The Hyperions – Gangsters
Citizen King – Gangsters
Dub Pistols (Feat. Terry Hall) – Gangsters
Dub Pistols (Feat. Terry Hall) – Gangsters (Live At Bestival 2005)
Lily Allen (Feat. Terry Hall) – Gangsters (Live at Glastonbury 2007)
Lily Allen – Gangsters (Live In Brazil)
Fun Boy Three – Gangsters (Live on The Old Grey Whistle Test)
Neville Staple – Gangsters

Enjoy!
LS

PS Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub got some awesome and rare bonuses up on the wall for ya.

Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

“I love Frank Sinatra and the American crooners and romantic jazz in general. I was looking for a rhyme to ‘area’ and here it came. What you don’t know, is when I said ‘He’s dead’, I really thought he was… A friend told me it was funny because he’s still alive… I couldn’t believe it and felt guilty, especially when he died three months later…”
Miss Kittin – (from pHinnWeb)

Pioneering electroclash pin-ups Miss Kittin & The Hacker, and their crack at the bourgeoise Frank Sinatra, get the cover treatment today courtesy of new electro Parisian punk hot-ness on the block, Pravda.

Pravda – Frank Sinatra

Enjoy!
LS

Word Association

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Here’s the song that coined the phrase ‘Word Up!’, Word Up! by Cameo (not that anybody still uses it or anything). To this day I swear I still get the ‘Cherry Coke’ commercial version of  this song stuck in my head.
And now, if it’s not painfully obvious I was a child of the 80s, I’ll press on. 19-piece strong Austrian music collective Wet Cookies takes a break from ‘soul meets jazz meets dub’ for this cheeky electro-pop cover of Cameo’s finest.

Wet Cookies – Word Up

Enjoy!
LS

Seeing The Light

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Here’s a little synth-pop for your Saturday, France’s Celluloide covering
Light From A Dead Star
by sadly defunct 90s shoegaze outfit Lush. Was fortunate enough to interview Miki and Emma when I used to work for a small music video show back in the day. Both sweet as hell. They had brought along a Gameboy and all three of us took turns playing Mario Brothers. Miki whooped my ass. Fun!

Celluloide – Light From A Dead Star

Enjoy!
LS

Sweet Jesus.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Embarrassingly enough The Jesus & Mary Chain were one of those bands that I got into as a freshman in high school based purely on their hairdos and name. I took one look at a pic of them in the NME and thought ‘Fuck me, I’m buying THAT. Whatever they are they gotta sound friggin awesome, right?’. But that’s not the embarrassing part. So I ran down to my local mom & pop record store, and managed to find a handful of various singles (as Psychocandy hadn’t yet been released). So I threw it on the turntable and immediately I was dumbstruck ‘It sounds awesome, but what the FUCK is that grinding noise in the background?’. I promptly switch out the record for one of the other singles I bought. ‘Double-fuck, there it is again.’ And popping on the last single I bought didn’t fair any better. ‘What the fuck is going on here? Those cheap limey bastards keep pressing their music on crap vinyl.’
So angrily back to the record store I stomped with ‘crap’-vinyl in tow.
“I think these records are defective, theres some sort of loud hissing sound going on”
The surly, 20-something record clerk put on the record,  looking at me somewhat nonplussed. ‘Sigh. That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to sound, it’s called ‘feedback’.”
Seeing that he was trying his damndest not to add the word ‘idiot’ to the end of that sentence, I quickly, and quite lamely, tried to backtrack.
“Uh, no no no. I wasn’t talking about the, er, ‘feel-back’, I was, uh, talking about another noise. Er, it must be my needle. Nevermind.” And quickly away I skulked, face redder than a dingo’s derriere. I must have avoided that store for like a year after that.
So far less embarrassing,  I got some great covers of JAMC‘s You Trip Me Up, albeit minus the ‘feel-back’. Kicking off we have original C-86 alums The Shop Assistants and while on the subject of twee, we also have a couple of sweet versions from The Arrogants as well as the The Cat’s Miaow. Buddy Greenbloom turns out a fairly standard acoustic rendition and lastly we have a little bit of Argentinian punk from Yonkis.

The Shop Assistants – You Trip Me Up
The Arrogants – You Trip Me Up

The Cat’s Miaow – You Trip Me Up
Buddy Greenbloom – You Trip Me Up
Yonkis – You Trip Me Up

Enjoy!
LS

Tom’s Booze

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

There’s plenty of reasons that Jockey Full of Bourbon, by Tom Waits, is a big favorite around the Versions household. Not the least that both Tom and Jockey were featured in perennial Versions fave film, Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. That goes ditto for finding out that Jockey was recorded in a basement a block from where I used to live in NYC (near Horatio & Washington). I also think it features Tom at his most delightfully dark; a New Orleans gothic complete with woodblock percussion and packed with enough dive bar references to choke Bukowski.
While I can’t vouch for all of today’s covers, one of those rare instances of quantity v. quality at Versions, I will kick off with my faves. We got four good rockabilly/big guitar covers courtesy of Jerry Williams, Carlos And The Banditos, The Blue Hawaiians and The Bottletones. Channeling their inner bad girls quite sublimely are Korean jazz expat now living in Paris, Youn Sun Nah and Meret Becker & Ars Vitali. And lastly, if for no other reason then he’s done a Polish version, Kazik‘s Bourbon Mnie Wypełnia gives gypsie rockers like Gogol Bordello a run for their ruble. As for the rest, completists, you’re on your own.

Jerry Williams – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Carlos and The Bandidos – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
The Blue Hawaiians – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
The Bottletones – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Meret Becker & Ars Vitalis – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Youn Sun Nah – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Kazik – Bourbon Mnie Wypełnia (Jockey Full Of Bourbon)
Los Lobos – Jockey Full Of Bourbon

Steve Evans Quartet – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
John Hammond – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Billy’s Band – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
The Silver Hearts – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Claudia Bettinaglio – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Moxy Früvous – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Eric McFadden – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Joe Bonamassa – Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Fat Vinny & The Wiseguys – Jockey Full Of Bourbon

Enjoy!
LS

Ironsides

Monday, June 21st, 2010

 

 

In what has got to be the loftiest fantasy dub line-up of the year, if not the entire 21st Century thus far, we got Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Dennis Bovell along with The On-U Soundsystem tag teaming with dubstep producer Pempi for a truly mindbending cover of Black Sabbath‘s Iron Man.

 

 

Enjoy!
LS

 

PS For those that missed my original Ironman post a while back, you can check it out here…

Ghostly.

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Just found out a bit of some bummer news; Mick Karn, the fretless (and often times browless) bass player of 80s act Japan is in the advanced stages of cancer.  If you don’t know who Japan were, which I’m assuming most don’t at this point, let’s just say there would be no New Wave/New Romantic movement without them. As Japan were in their last throes as a group (finally calling it a day in 82′), fellow synthpop/new wave acts started plundering their stylistic cues; glam makeup, angular suits and even more angular hair, as well as musical ones; heavy use of the Prophet synthesizer and what would become a staple of the 80s sound, the fretless or slapped ‘warbly’ bass style, of which Mick pioneered. The most obvious embodiment of these details would would be perfected in Duran Duran, who would often admit to wholesale plundering of everything Japan. But unlike Duran, Japan by the end had started shunning their pop past and was headed into more experimental and world-based influences. Ironically enough this new change in tact would yield them their only top ten hit; the minimal, introspective cut Ghosts which managed to make it to #5 in the UK charts.
And with that I’m dedicating today’s post to Mick, with two covers of Ghosts; a whispy female voxed one from the infamous Paul Morley and his ‘new’ group Infantjoy and the other by downtempo legend gone MIA, Lewis Taylor.

Get Better Mick!
LS

PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, there’s the original cut waiting there for ya.

PPS If you thought I’d featuring The Deftones cover of this, you’re sorely bloody mistaken my fat pants wearing, mustard in your goatee havin’, nu-metal friend. Worst, most pointless cover, ever (And yes I’m counting Celine Dion’s AC/DC cover in that too).

Spare A Quarter?

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Never thought I’d see the day where I’d be proud to feature a Quarterflash cover, but apparently that’s what’s happening.
Indie-folk newcomers The Battle Of Land And Sea take their fellow Portlander’s one hit wonder of the 80s, Harden My Heart, and reshape it into something dreamily reminiscent of Mazzy Star or Cat Power. The only thing missing is the sax solo, perm-mullets, and broken dreams (or broken coke mirrors bought at the county fair. I’ll let you pick.)

The Battle Of Land And Sea – Harden My Heart

Enjoy!
LS

Gimme 5

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Storytime.
I was in an art show in Tokyo a few years back and was wandering drunk through Shibuya late one evening when a Japanese girl approached me.
“Wuurorike Ahmassage Purease?”
“Excuse me?” I replied courteously. “Watashi-wa speak only skoshi Japanese” making the international symbol for ‘tiny’ with my fingers.
Again this time with a bit of smile and a mini head bow. “Worrie You Arike Ah Massage Purease?”
“Oh! A ‘massage’! Uh, hmm, yeah thanks but no.”
With a ‘Hmm’, she paused as though re-calibrating some mental index cards and then looked up at me smiling ‘Woo you arike a burrow job purease?’
With some polite chuckling  ‘Ah, er,arigato honey, but not tonight.’  And with that, somewhat dejected, she shuffled off.
So the next day I’m eating lunch with a Japanese antiques dealer friend of my father named Hisashi, who is about my age and speaks broken but somewhat decent english, when he asks me about my trip so far. After stories of temples and panchinko parlors I decide to regale him with that aforementioned story. Hisashi, puzzled, looks at me and says ‘What is burrow jobuprease?’.
“You know a ‘Blow Job’.”
Still puzzled, he tilted his head like a curious puppy.
“Er…..Y’know”, I said “a BLOW JOB” and then proceeded to do that charade that high school jocks do to offend their girlfriends by pretending to ram a cock in their mouth.
“Ah!!!! BURROW JOBU!”  He finally got it and we both had a bit of a laugh.
Well fast forward a few months later and I’m back in America and catching up with my dad. He said “Hisashi was here a few weeks ago, said he had a lot of fun hanging out with you.”
“Likewise!” I replied.
“Oh and by the way, when were playing golf he also said ‘Yes, we had very much fun and Leopold taught me some new words! Like ‘burrow job!
My dad, laughing and shaking his head then said to him “Hisashi do you know what a ‘blow job’ is?”
“Yes”
“What’s a blow job Hisashi?”
“Oh Fred-san, cannot say. Too embarrassing.”
My dad, handing him his golf pad and one of those mini pencils says “Here, why don’t you write down what you think it is”.
Hisashi thinking for a minute, scribbles something down, folds the paper, smiles politely and then hands it to my father.
Whereupon then my father hands me the slip of paper to see.
And there, spelled out in block letters, Hisashi had written  ‘ F E R R A S H E O ‘.

Oh Japan. I love the place. Would move there in a heartbeat if anyone offered me a job there (hint hint anyone?). Being raised in a Japanese household (an even longer story) I kind of developed a deep appreciation for their culture. And while I dig the nature, the gardens and the old temples, I really love their design, style and pop culture sense (but stop short of that anime bullshit). One place where they all came together with aplomb was the, sadly now defunct, Shibuya-Kei pop group Pizzicato Five. Their attention to packaging themselves put America and the UK to shame. Mod and pop culture of the 60s wasn’t so much woven,  as dyed into their core; via their music, their cover art and their clothes. Head to toe detail perfected, have a look. Keeping their memory alive today however is Frankfurt’s [re:jazz] project with their jazz reworking of Twiggy Twiggy. And far be it for me to start featuring remixes I’m also including a great reggae one by The Dynamics who thoroughly rework it as their own.

[re:jazz] feat. Akiko – Twiggy Twiggy
[re:jazz] feat. Akiko – Twiggy Twiggy (The Dynamics Remix)

Itadaki-masu!
LS

PS Original hanging on the wall for those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub in case you missed it the first time round.

All For Naut

Monday, June 14th, 2010

You name the hip-hop act, they sampled it; Nautilus by Bob James is probably the most plundered track in the history of sampling, rearing it’s head from Public Enemy to Slick Rick and from Wu-Tang to many a downtempo act like Kruder & Dorfmeister and DJ Food. So if your MPC has grown weary of pilfering James’ original, here’s some new beat fodder.
As always I’m going to play favorites, The Simonsound make a return to VG with a quirky, Arp/Moog influenced rendition and we got two reggae cuts from the likes of  The Gorgones (AKA the always awesome Taggy Matcher) and Blundetto. Also worth a mention is a great deconstructed version by the aptly named Nautilis (sic) and the rest pretty much tow the original line, but are no less funky.

The Simonsound – Nautilus
The Gorgones – Nautilus
Blundetto – Nautilus
Nautilis – Nautilus
Gramatik – New Nautilus
Nicolay – Nautilus
Nuyorican Soul – Nautilus (Mawtilus)
The Caltones – Nautilus (Live at WPRK)
Dave McMurray – Nautilus

Enjoy!
LS

PS Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub got some bonus beats for y’all, you know where to look.

Image Conscious

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Up to my receding hairline in work, but here’s a quickie for ya; SxSW indie darlings We Were The States, 90s alt darlings Tripping Daisy and, uh, mandolin-folk darlings The Bad Shepherds, give a facelift to PiL‘s (Public Image Limited) anti-apartheid anthem Rise.

Tripping Daisy – Rise
The Bad ShepherdsRise

Enjoy!
LS

PS Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub got some bonus Rise up on the wall.

Shooken Not Stirred

Friday, June 11th, 2010

It’s been gettin’ a little too 80s around here, time to shake things up. So how about a couple of reggae Elvis Presley covers, fit for a King(ston)? We got Jackie Brown and Derrick Harriott (inna dancehall style) feeling a bit All Shook Up.

Enjoy!
LS

You So Nasty!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Of all the fashion indignities that one had to endure as a Prince protege; raspberry berets, paisley marching band outfits, Kamikaze bandannas, surgeon’s scrubs, swashbuckler boots, purple velvet trench coats, purple velvet Renn-Fair shirts, purple velvet…well..everything; I always felt that poor Vanity 6 really got stuck with the short end of the Purple Overlord’s schtick. While everyone else got ‘outfits’ poor V6 looked like they were trolling for scraps in the ‘sale’ bin at Frederick’s of Hollywood. Plus they had to rock that shit during the daytime, in of all places Milwaukee, no doubt leaving a trail of over-enthusiastic construction workers, angry territorial prostitutes and confused vice cops in their wake. Out there, somewhere in an abandoned Presbyterian church in Minneapolis, I like to imagine there’s a support group for ex-Prince protégés (no doubt run by Morris Day) where one by one they spill their various fashion humiliations (‘I was a three times a day fingerless lace glove wearer, until PA helped me!’).
Anyway back to Vanity 6, today we have the electro-pop nastiness that are Lene Alexandra and Inaya Day covering their lingerie livin’ anthem Nasty Girl.

Enjoy!
LS

Not B.A.D. Meaning Bad but B.A.D. Meaning Good

Monday, June 7th, 2010

While I’m sure we all can pretty much agree that the London Calling-era is pretty much sacrosanct for fans of The Clash, I was always somewhat more in awe of their dance/funk related experiments of the early 80s like Magnificent Seven and Radio Clash . That same itch to experiment must have still been nagging away somewhere in their guitarist Mick Jones who decided to keep running with that ball when he decided to form the more dance-oriented Big Audio Dynamite (AKA B.A.D.). Another awe inspiring feet was  B.A.D.’s pioneering use of samples, indeed their debut This Is Big Audio Dynamite was heavily woven with bits of movie dialogue (mostly Leone), James Brown, various Trojan Records and what-the-hell they even sampled The Clash. Given today’s RIAA publishing climate/nightmare there is no way an album like this could be made today without it costing about a 1/4 of the Pentagon’s yearly budget.
Absent of samples but no less enjoyable is today’s post; Bruce Lash covering their single Medicine Show in a bossa nova/lounge style (think a male-voxed Nouvelle Vague).

Enjoy!
LS

Justice League

Friday, June 4th, 2010




A bit late to the D.A.N.C.E. I know, but here’s a couple of unplugged versions of Justice‘s finest to cut a rug to this weekend. Hawa serves hers up Northern Soul/Neo-Stax style while Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly prove that if you have an acoustic guitar, then you could say that you were, a techno singer. (Sorry bad Smiths joke thrown on the end there).

Hawa – D.A.N.C.E.
Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly – D.A.N.C.E.


Enjoy!
LS

Echoplex

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Conquering myself
Until I see another hurdle approaching
Say we can, say we will
Not just another drop in the ocean

That bit by Echo & The Bunnymen should have been my senior yearbook quote. At the last minute I stupidly rolled with a Bob Marley one instead, which is odd considering I couldn’t stand him at that point. Anyway here’s Echo’s Ian Broudie produced masterpiece (albeit minus Shankars’ awesome string section) The Cutter covered quite deftly by dutch lo-fi indie ‘group’ Solex (AKA Elisabeth Esselink).

Enjoy!
LS

‘And we’re all goin straight to HELLLLL!!!’

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

At some point in my life, the early 90s I think, I got a bit burned out on loud, screetchy bands produced by Steve Albini and receded into a life of well-polished trainers, ‘lounges’ and listening to Kruder & Dorfmeister 24/7. And then along comes McClusky (with Albini in tow), 3/4 noise, 1/4 biting sarcasm, to jolt me out of my acid jazz stupor and reaffirm my faith in noise.
Wile Mclusky has been disbanded and gone for some 5 years now, it’s refreshing to know that someone else out there still remembers them, like Vancouver-ite garage rockers Japandroids who pay tribute with a cover of To Hell with Good Intentions.

Japandroids – To Hell with Good Intentions

Enjoy!
LS

PS For those members of the Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub who don’t remember this song the first time round, got the original hanging on the wall for ya.

Pretty Fly For A White Guy

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I believe it’s officially law now, that if your sitcom has a goofy ‘love-scene’ or one that involves the wimp becoming a pimp (bonus if he’s walking with a cane through a dive bar), that you must use the infamous first 10 seconds I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby by Barry White (The same few seconds incidentally that has become a staple hip hop sample).
Kicking off covering the king size casanova today are two reggae cuts by Lloyd Charmers and Richard McDonald, a fistful of soul from the likes of Cecil Holmes, Kellee Patterson, Uwe Buschkotter, West Wing and Jimmy Smith (of which Beastie Boys fans will no doubt recognize the first few seconds), and lastly some Italian/French renditions by Rita Pavone & Ubaldo Lay.

Enjoy!
LS