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Archive for February, 2011

This Rimy River

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I’ll admit it, I can get all weepy and emotional sometimes over a certain piece of music. Nothing however brings on the waterworks quite like River Man by late folk singer Nick Drake; a trifecta of fragile vocals, acoustic guitar and the rising and falling of an accompanying string section. Adding to the soggy pile of Kleenex was his tragic life long battle with insomnia, depression and eventual suicide at age 26. The effect he left behind however cannot be overstated. Musicians copping to his influence include luminaries such as David Sylvian, Jose Gonzalez, The Books, Kate Bush, Paul Weller, Robert Smith, Belle & Sebastian, The Dream Academy (Life in a Northern Town was a Drake tribute) as well as pretty much anyone who was on the 4AD records roster (i.e. Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil etc.) during the 80s.
All this heavy reverence for River Man meant that there were no off-beat versions this time around, however we do have a few standouts. Leading with my faves is jazz vocalist legend Andy Bey (of whome Gilles Peterson has been caning quite heavily as of late) and an impending heavy funk-psych version from Shawn Lee. I’m also digging the female led, indie/band-by-the-seaside take by Brighton’s The Mummers, a mindbending psychedelic sitar cut from the normally straight laced Paul Weller (ex-Jam/Style Council) and Arabic/Belgian diva Natacha Atlas who spices up her version with a few taps of the tabla.
Besides the aforementioned Andy Bey cut we also have several more jazz renditions by Brad Mehldau as well as the Steve Evans Quartet and Germany’s Till Brönner. And lastly straight ahead overs all around from ladies Katell Keineg, Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, Norma Waterson (of The Watersons fame); and gents Jesse Sykes, Chris Seefried, Duncan Sheik, Tom Barman & Guy Van Nueten, Robyn Hitchcock and Way To Blue (a Nick Drake Tribute band overseen by Drake producer Joe Boyd with Vashti Bunyan, Scritti Politti and Robyn Hitchcock).

Andy Bey – River Man
Shawn Lee – River Man
The Mummers –
River Man

Natacha Atlas – River Man
Paul Weller – River Man
Brad Mehldau – River Man (The Art of the Trio, Vol. 3 version)
Brad Mehldau – River Man (The Art of the Trio, Vol. 5 version)
Brad Mehldau – River Man (Festival de Menton)
Brad Mehldau – River Man (Live In Tokyo)
Brad Mehldau Trio – River Man (Salzburg 2008)
Steve Evans Quartet – River Man
Till Brönner – River Man
Katell Keineg – River Man
Rachel Unthank & The Winterset – River Man
Norma Waterson – River Man
Jesse Sykes – River Man
Chris Seefried – River Man
Duncan Sheik – River Man
Tom Barman & Guy Van Nueten – River Man (Live)
Robyn Hitchcock – River Man (Live)
Way To Blue – River Man (Live)


PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub looking to fill out that ultimate rainy day mixtape, got the original on the wall for you…

PPS Big shout out to LeDrew for reminding me about the Shawn Lee version. You’ve earned an official Versions Galore Big Fat Fucking Oversight Merit Badge today 😉

Chhhaaak Syndrome

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Chhhhhhhhhakka Khan! Chhhakka Khan! Chhhakka Khan!
To this day whenever I hear the name Chaka Khan, besides always wanting to launch into the above 80s catchphrase whilst doing the fake hand ‘scratching’ movement, it will always remind me, oddly enough, of taking woodshop in the 8th grade, where I spent an entire semester whittling a sad, lumpy boomerang that could never be bothered to return. Presiding over mine, and everyone else’s complete wastes of old growth timber, was Mr. Hofferman. Mr. Hofferman had one of those mustaches that made him look like he actually energed from some Gold Rush-era sawmill and couldn’t have been a more frighteningly classic woodshop instructor, in that he had the oft habit of showing us his 4 1/2 fingered hand whenever one of us laughed a little too loud in class; ‘Quit screwing around! Want to see what happens when you screw around?!?! THIS!(up went the hand) THIS is what happens when you screw around!’. The anachronous soundtrack to this sawdust covered traumatic memory was Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You (Chhhhhhhhhakka Khan! Chhhakka Khan! Chhhakka Khan!), which seemed to be on endless rotation that year on Hofferman’s paint dribbled, woodstain discoloured boombox.
Unfortunately for you and the woefully half digit short Mr. Hofferman today I don’t have a decent cover of I Feel For You. However I do have the next best thing; Rufus & Chaka Khan‘s electro R&B classic Ain’t Nobody, which for those old enough to remember, or if you’re just a young person just looking for a cheap laugh, is from the montage scene in Breakin’ (every 80s movie had one). Covers we’re feeling today are a marching band-influenced retro soul/leftfield electronic cut from Jack & Juke (featuring Sharlene Hector of Basement Jaxx and Bugz In The Attic fame) and a reggae/dancehall version from the rather soulful Devonte.

Jack & Juke – Ain’t Nobody (feat. Sharlene Hector)
Devonte – Ain’t Nobody


PS For those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub still scratching their head and saying Chaaakaa who? Chaaaka what?, got the original on the wall for you.


Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Years ago, back when I was living in NYC, I inadvertently ‘stalked’ Kim Gordon, of the art/noise damaged Sonic Youth, once. I had just come out of the Angelika (theater) in Soho when I nearly tripped right over her. She was dressed in one of her signature X-Girl tees and clutching a Marc Jacobs shopping bag. Of course when I saw her I did a double take and I think she caught my face doing a mental ‘whoah you’re Kim Gordon!’ to which she promptly looked down at the pavement and started nervously walking in that ‘oh-crap-it’s-an-obsessed-fan-hope-he-doesn’t-make-me-sign-some-shit’ kind of way. Just FYI; while she might be the hottest Alt-MILF of the college radio terrarium, and I dug Sonic Youth, I wasn’t really all that hung up on her (I’m more of a Cat Power kinda guy). Regardless I start to head back home which was apparently the same direction as she happened to be going (with her only a whopping 10 feet ahead of me). Then it just kinda got weird. She busted a quick right onto Prince street and walked a few blocks and with me tailing her as it was the route I that I usually take home. The whole time however, she kept nervously looking over her shoulder to see my unshaven, surly mug following closely behind. She’d make a left, I’d make a left. I could only imagine the Hitchcock-ian music that must have been playing round her head as she anxiously ducked down an alley, the same one unfortunately that I was heading down (again the same strange route I take home). More nervous glancing, and faster walking ensued, to which I  in my defense I didn’t try to match as I was starting to get increasingly more and more self conscious about this whole incident. So finally I did that gentlemanly thing of stopping to pretend to tie-my-shoe while looking around at nothing in particular to show her I wasn’t in the least bit interested in mauling her. This gave her the ample opportunity to kinda jog-trot off in some direction or other far far away from her would-be imaginary mugger.
‘Ok’, I thought, ‘I don’t feel weird anymore’ and so I leisurely proceeded to take the rest of my weird route home. That is until 2 blocks later when I practically ran right into her again. Apparently this was the last straw.  Horrified, she turned ghost white and ran, as if The Blob was coming to get her, about 15ft straight back into the Marc Jacobs from whence she must have originally came. Moral is: there is no moral, but Kim if you’re reading this, my apologies! I wasn’t stalking you I swear!
So that little yarn leads into today’s obvious Sonic Youth post. Brighton sextet The Go! Team turn SY’s Bull in the Heather into a peppy little noise rock-meets-cheerleading squad ditty.

The Go! Team – Bull In the Heather


PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub fishing for reasons to stalk, got the original on the wall for you…

What A Bunch Of Cissys…

Monday, February 14th, 2011

It’s break time again and today we have The Meters 1969 funk classic Cissy Strut. It’s been oft sampled by everyone from Run D.M.C. to NWA and covered to death by anyone within sniffing distance of a bass in the French Quarter. Versions here has paired that last number down to our  22 personal deep fried favorites. FYI artist’s creative spellings of ‘Cissy’ left intact.
Standout renditions include a steel band version (The Original Trinidad Steel Band), sitar (Ravi Harris & the Prophets), a bit of funky reggae (Butch Cassidy Sound System) and a spitfire paced 70s cop-car-chase-scene sounding cut from Polish funksters Big Band Katowice. Next is a grip of straight up funk covers, followed by two straight ahead jazz cuts from a frantic Houston Person and a rather sedated John Patton

The Original Trinidad Steel Band – Cissy Strut
Ravi Harris & the Prophets – Cissy Strut
Butch Cassidy Sound System – Cissy Strut
Big Band Katowice – Madrox (AKA Cissy Strut)

Pete Eye Trio – Sissy Strut
De Boys An Dem – Cissy Strut
The Elders – Sissy Strut
Hoctor – Cissy Strut
The Al Capps Band – Sissy Strut
Joe Bravo – Sissy Strut
LaBert Ellis – Cissy Strut
The Johnny Lewis Trio – Cissy Strut
The Mexican Revolution – C.C. Strutt
Los Masters – Cissy Strut
Earl Van Dyke – Cissy Strut
George Porter’s Joyride – Cissy Strut
The Willard Posey Reunion – Cissy Strut
Rod Piazza – Cissy Strut
Music from Free Creek – Cissy Strut
King Herbert and The Knights – Sissy Strut

Houston Person – Cissy Strut
John Patton – Cissy Strut


PS For my Brothers and Sisters of Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, got the original plus two more Cissi-fied bonus tracks on the wall for y’all…

Smooth Operator

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Electronica covers, like I may have have mentioned in previous posts, tend to run on the scarce side. But in a testament of sorts to the timelessness of house music, today I’ve got not one, but four versions 1988 house classic Promised Land by house pioneer Joe Smooth. Not just a great dance record, but a great slice of uplifting soul. Though not anywhere near the first of it’s genre, it did lay down the blueprint not only for the Chicago sound but pretty much laid down the standard for all house music from that point forward. Oh and for better or for worse it even managed to find it’s way onto the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto, which in a delightfully evil way I gotta admit nothing’s more fun that mowing down pedestrians down in a car-jacked GTO doing 110 whilst singing:‘Sisters….brothers…I’ll send you to the Promised Laaaaaaaand’. (Yes I’m going to hell, but I plan on taking my PS3 with me).
Plowing on, we’ll start with one of my favorite new Brit-folk artists Findlay Brown, who wisely eschews the obligatory Dylan/Cohen/Waits cover in lieu of something more unique (and deserving!). Next is German jazz trio Re:Jazz who have tackled not just this but several electronica classics. The soul in house music wasn’t lost on the lord of blue eyed soul himself Paul Weller, who gave it a shot via The Style Council (and I believe can also lay claim to being the first to cover Promised shortly after it’s release). And lastly I waded through a crusty Oakenfold branded record bag’s worth of shitty trance and prog house to bring the sole electronica cover worthy of it’s predecessor ; a classic-sounding house rendition by Austria’s George Alexander & Big John Whitfield (and in what also speaks volumes to Promised‘s eclat, I discovered on a friggin Northern Soul site!)

Findlay Brown – Promised Land
Re:Jazz – Promised Land
The Style Council – Promised Land
George Alexander & Big John Whitfield – Promised Land


PS For those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub who gotta have house…music…all night long, got the original and some other fun mixes, re-edits chilling on the wall for you…

Barry. John Barry. (1933-2011)

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I’m back! World Wide Internets is all fixed now! Huzzah!
But I turn my back for one minute however and down goes my one of my favorite composers, John Barry. If you haven’t deduced from today’s art by now you may know him as the guy that composed pretty much 90% of all the James Bond soundtracks including the most recognizable spy jingle in history, the James Bond Theme. While Morricone, Schfrin, Goldsmith and Williams are all geniuses in my book, no one quite hit those high, over-the-top brassy notes quite like Barry.
Oh and did I mention he laid claim to Jane Birkin as arm candy long before Serge Gainbourg? Check out these pics (1, 2) and tell me how he wasn’t shilling for part as Bonds’s understudy.
In tribute today we’ve handpicked a few covers of the John Barry/Shirley Bassey Bond theme Diamonds Are Forever. Incidentaly this was the one theme that made Bond producer Harry Saltzman’s more peeved than ‘M’. Irony of ironies, he hated the innuendo (hint: replace references of ‘Diamonds’ with ‘Penis’. Apologies if I just ruined anyone’s lunch).
So what better way to start this off than with cheeky Brit-poppers Arctic Monkeys, both studio and live versions. Downtempo/Trip Hop pretty much owes it’s entire cinematic scoped existence to Barry and paying tribute today are Cinerama and David Arnold (who is now Barry’s Bond soundtrack successor). Next is a handful of swinging 60s oddities from Al Caiola, The Ventures, Geoff Love, The Bachelors, the Secret Service Orchestra and Percy Faith (FYI Beat miners, there’s some good breaks to be had in these).
And lastly is a hilarious death metal version from Ten Masked Men ‘Men are mere mortals who, are not worth going, to your grave fooooorrrrrr’ (Trust me, it works)

Arctic Monkeys – Diamonds Are Forever
Arctic Monkeys – Diamonds Are Forever (Live Glastonbury)
Cinerama – Diamonds Are Forever
David Arnold feat. David McAlmont – Diamonds Are Forever
Al Caiola – Diamonds Are Forever
The Ventures – Diamonds Are Forever
Geoff Love – Diamonds Are Forever
The Bachelors – Diamonds Are Forever
Secret Service Orchestra – Diamonds Are Forever
Percy Faith – Diamonds Are Forever
Ten Masked Men – Diamonds Are Forever

Enjoy! (and RIP Barry.)

PS Rogue agents of Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, there’s a bonus remix for you on the wall….

PPS If The World, or at least this post, Is Not Enough be sure to check out some archived Versions Bond entries here, here and here…

technical difficulties…

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011


Apologies for the recent absenteeism. Having MAJOR internet issues at the moment and it looks like I’m going to be out of commission for at least the next week or so.

See you (hopefully!) soon,