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Archive for April, 2011

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

The 70s were not a stylistic nor culturally kind decade, and certainly not at all to 4th grade suburban me.
The grade school I attended  had one day a year set aside called ‘Electives Day’, where we joyfully got a day’s reprieve from confusing multiplication tables and hand cramping cursive lessons and got to indulge in fun, but utterly useless little extracurricular activities like pottery, lawn bowling or making brownies that somehow took 6 hours to cook.
To rewind a bit here, aside from the 70s being unkind to me, my parents also made the decade that much worse by always sending me to school in some unfashionably overdressed outfit. While all my friends got to wear sneakers, blue jeans and Rat Fink t-shirts, I was confined to an ensemble of tan hush puppies, itchy grey wool slacks and turtlenecks with herringbone blazers. I didn’t resemble an 8 year old so much as I did the guy from the Mastermind box, sans the beard and his Parker Brothers groupie. Needless to say the popular girls, ie Gina and Tiffany, avoided me like a wet hairball on dirty linoleum floor.
But this year, with the help of Electives Day, I was determined to seize control of my destiny.
As I read down the list of activities; Solar-Cooked Hotdogs, Fun with Popsicle Sticks!, Earthball…and You, I boldly checked off what I thought would advertise ‘The New Me’; Fashion Design 101 and Disco Dancing (For Fun and Exercise). I would certainly show Gina and Tiffany, that beneath my disheveled college Ethics professor demeanor, lurked an unbridled 4 1/2 foot John Travolta who was also sensitive enough to design his own clothes.
How did it go you ask? Well, those of us who turned up expecting some sort of pre-pubescent Project Runway were hoodwinked into what turned out to be nothing more than a hippy tie-dying class (Tim Gunn: ‘Designers! Please choose your rubber bands carefully…’). The tally so far; three hours of my childhood I could never get back and two blue, Rit-stained, hands. And, oh yes it only got worse.
So for the lunch/break in between activities we got treated to a local band who set up shop, complete with multicolored rock concert lights, on our beloved kickball field. Well midway through an ill-advised cover of Afternoon Delight, yours truly like the bored, dimwitted little moth that he was, went over and decided to touch the lights. Honestly to this day I still haven’t forgotten that pain. They were so hot that for a good 5 seconds it didn’t even register they were practically singeing the fingerprints off my purple stained fingers. Many tears and much Neosporin later, they sent me and my now bandaged-tipped paws to my Disco lesson, which had started a full hour earlier. Looking around it was apparent that everyone in the class, 5 girls (indluding Gina and Tiffany) and the boy with the lisp and the Farrah tee, had already gotten the basic ‘Hustle’ down. It was then, during the second portion, that I got thrown into the class to do the next step, the hand-jive-rolling bit. All pride boogied out the class window as I stumbled to keep time to Anita Ward’s Ring My Bell blaring from a nearby speaker blown ghetto blaster.
My attempts at ‘The Hustle’ were more like a drunk man trying to cross an icey road. And combine that with trying to hand jive with tie-dyed purple hands and white tipped bandaged fingers while wearing another of my parent’s unfortunate handpicked outfits, I looked less like Saturday Night Fever and more like an offensively diminutive Al Jolson impersonator.
To cap it off at the end of the day I was made to change into my now dry, tie-dyed, eyesore of a tee shirt and sent home. As I sat at the back of the bus I could see Gina and Tiffany cackling away at the front, staring at space between us with a look that said ‘you could double the amount of rows and it still wouldn’t be far enough.’
When I got home my mom greeted me at the door, How was your Electives day? Did you learn anything new? Sigh…
For those that doubt karma there is a bittersweet end to this story. Funny enough, many years later, a now much more dapper me came back for a visit home from my senior year at college. At some point after dinner with the parentals I was sent to the local supermarket to pick up more wine. As the woman was ringing me up I couldn’t help but noticed she looked familiar. As I glanced at the name tag I quickly realized it was my unrequited childhood crush Gina, and as if on cue, as the bottle slid past the swiper and down to the end of the checkout there was Tiffany. “Paper or Plastic sir?”
So departing from what has got to be my longest Versions Galore yarn ever, for the Hustle-traumatized I’ve got four non-disco covers of Ring My Bell by Anita Ward. Most reggae/rare groove hipsters may know this one, but if you haven’t Jamaica’s Blood Sisters do a mean uptempo roots version. Short, but no less stunning, is a human beatbox rendition by French hip hop collective Saïan Supa Crew. And ending the night are two lounge versions from Brazil’s Eldissa as well as one from a delightfully unexpected Hector Zazou (with Barbara Eramo & Stefano Saletti).

Blood Sisters – Ring My Bell
Saïan Supa Crew – Ring My Bell
Eldissa – Ring My Bell
Hector Zazou, Barbara Eramo & Stefano Saletti – Ring My Bell


Flashback Friday:Rockit, Man…

Friday, April 29th, 2011

So for those that missed it last week I’ve instituted a new, semi regular column ‘Flashback Friday’; covers that I’ve already tackled in the past and for whatever reason, whether someone has recently made a new one or maybe I was simply asleep and drooling at the keyboard and missed one (more often than you think, natch).
Back in 2008 I featured The Dynamics alter ego Taggy Matcher‘s fun dubbed out ska version of Rockit by Herbie Hancock. If I had been a tad less lazier I would have noticed that there were also three more excellent off beat covers. A funk/souljazz rendition from dZihan & Kamien, a light jazz version via the [re:jazz] project and a squelchy little tech-house cover from Belgium’s Soul Designer.

dZihan & Kamien – Rockit
[re:jazz] – Rockit
Soul Designer – Rockit

Check out the original post here.


Egyptian Lover

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Not quite Egyptian and not quite reggae either, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers big ‘hit’ Egyptian Reggae oddly earned him one-hit-wonder status amongst most music philistines. However, as leagues of new indie acts worth their weight in Pitchfork reviews will attest (including a name drop in in LCD Soundsystem’s self consciously referential Losing My Edge), his influence on the burgeoning punk and new wave movements of the late 70s cannot be overstated. Despite that, his instrumental Egyptian Reggae is still a standout track and one with a peculiar history. Seems Jonathan had started out trying to cover the Earl Zero penned Johnny Clarke reggae classic None Shall Escape The Judgement but somehow got it wrong and ended up with what the more ‘Eastern-influenced’ Egyptian Reggae. While most Jamaicans spotted the hook right away (including a wildly pissed off Earl Zero), it wasn’t until years later that Zero eventually got his dues in the form of a co-writer credit.
So today, putting the reggae back into the Egyptian Reggae are The Jamaica Corporation and Vic Fin. There was also a short but very sweet lullaby rendition from Pascal Comelade, a rockin’ rockabilly cut from Francine, a surf instrumental from Surfpatrouille as well as two just straight up covers from both The Sharks and The Feelies.

The Jamaica Corporation – Egyptian Reggae
Vic Fin – Egyptian Reggae
Pascal Comelade – Egyptian Reggae
Francine – Egyptian Reggae
Surfpatrouille – Egyptian Reggae
The Sharks – Egyptian Reggae
The Feelies – Egyptian Reggae (Live)


PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, got the original, as well as the original original (Johnny Clarke’s) down at the watering hole…

Whose that Knocking?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Straight outta Lyon, France, and packing a six string, comes the fresh
faced François Virot.
Have a listen as he strips down Jay-Z‘s brash hip-hop classic Hard Knock Life into a coltish, lo-fi acoustic number.

Françoise Virot – Hard Knock Life


Flashback Friday:On The Attack

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

So I’m instituting a new, semi regular column today, ‘Flashback Friday; covers that I’ve already tackled in the past and for whatever reason, whether someone has recently made a new one or  perhaps I decided on the original post to only feature one genre (i.e. only rockabilly covers of Tainted Love) but now want to feature other versions or maybe I was just simply asleep and drooling at the keyboard and missed one (more often than you think, natch).
Just don’t call it a cop out 😉
So today I’m setting the Wayback Machine to October 3 2008 to our original post of Teardrop by Massive Attack. While I originally got so excited by José González‘s amazing version, I completely spaced on the fact that one of my favorite UK indie bands, Elbow, had also done a cracking cover. I also uncovered a classical cut by The Tallywood String Quartet, a latin/Cuban jazz rendition by the Sunlightsquare Latin Combo as well as a straight ahead jazz version by Robert Mitchell 3iO. There was also a dreamy twang rendition from Barcelona’s Nuna and yet another indie cut from South Africa’s Civil Twilight. And lastly for those that can’t get enough of José, there was also a great live cut of it as well.

Elbow – Teardrop
Elbow – Teardrop (Black Session)
The Tallywood String Quartet – Teardrop
Sunlightsquare Latin Combo – Teardrop
Robert Mitchell 3iO – Teardrop
Nuna – Teardrop
Civil Twilight – Teardrop
José González – Teardrop (live)

Check out the original post here.


PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub, got a couple of non-cover qualifying, yet amazing dub reworkings of Teardrop for you. You know where to look…

The World Of Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Ugh, been away too long. Had a bit of a rollercoaster two weeks with work, health and personal shiznit that, while sometimes though I thought I had a grip on the bucking bronto that is life, it would throw a new beehive in my lap. At the moment everything seems stable, but as Ringo once famously quipped ‘Tomorrow never knows’. And with that I’m going to segue with all the grace of a rhino jogging through Pottery Barn into another one of my large posts; 40-something handpicked covers of The Beatles‘ introspective, tambura-intoxicated, pysch and engineering masterpiece Tomorrow Never Knows.
Favorites by a long shot are two early versions; a crawling yet ominous cut by tragically late blues/soul singer Junior Parker (recently brought back to light via the Children of Men soundtrack) and a rare psych-souljazz version from the Don Randi Trio.
Also jumping on the bandwagon quite early are two great 60s covers from The Mirage and Morganna King.
Next is a small handful of covers from some noted notables (to me at least anyway) including Roxy Music side project 801 (AKA Phil Manzanera & Brian Eno), 80s alt-stalwarts The Chameleons, and The Mission UK as well as Danielle Dax‘s dancey one-hitter, Yukihiro Takahashi (of YMO Fame) and a odd one from diamond David Lee Roth, or at least odd for him anyway (BTW don’t hate on the Dave. Hate on Hagar if you must.)
Having the dubious distinction of being the first song to utilize the Flanger effect, Tomorrow Never Knows is in some ways the mother of all shoegaze/dirge/drone music. Plying that sound are some loud and sublimely sluggish cuts from Sonic Youth, Suns Of Arqa, Secret Colours, Ride, Toiling Midgets, Wrath of the Weak and Marshmallow Overcoat.
Getting even further left of the dial, in fact breaking the whole %$#@! knob off, is what I’d like to call the ‘Bad Acid Section’; a grip of VERY experimental, noise and outsider cuts from Tom Meade, Jad Fair & Daniel Johnston, A Minority Of One, David Fiuczynski, Supermotozoids, Irma Cerrutti and Dictionaraoke (aka Mac Speech + Karaoke). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tomorrow‘s overt Indian influences also make it ripe for being covered in an ambiguously Asian/Middle Eastern fashion and taming those tablas are Monsoon (Featuring Sheila Chandra), Pedro Aznar and Turkey’s DEF.
Cutting the oriental rug are dance cuts from electronica/hip-hop crossovers the Stereo MCs as well as a drum & bass from the normally reggae Wailing Souls, a downtempo Jay Atwood & Susan MacCorkle and now that I think about it probably a more ‘Prog-y’ than danceable Tangerine Dream.
And lastly locking it down for their respected genres is Beatlejazz, Ann Dyer & No Good Time Fairies and Giovanni Guidi (Jazz), Jason McNiff (Bluegrass), Five O’clock Shadow (Acapella), The Punkles (Reggae), Quartetto Orchestra Sinfonica G. Verdi di Milano (Classical), the 8 Bit Operators (Chiptune) and lastly a hilarious Beatles-in-the-style-of-Metallica parody from Beatallica.

Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows
Don Randi Trio – Tomorrow Never Knows

The Mirage – Tomorrow Never Knows
Morganna King – Tomorrow Never Knows

801 (AKA Phil Manzanera & Brian Eno) – Tomorrow Never Knows
The Chameleons – Tomorrow Never Knows
The Mission UK – Tomorrow Never Knows
Danielle Dax – Tomorrow Never Knows
Yukihiro Takahashi – Tomorrow Never Knows
David Lee Roth – Tomorrow Never Knows

Sonic Youth – Tomorrow Never Knows
Suns Of Arqa – Tomorrow Never Knows
Secret Colours – Tomorrow Never Knows
Ride – Tomorrow Never Knows (Live)
Toiling Midgets – Tomorrow Never Knows
Wrath of the Weak – Tomorrow Never Knows
Marshmallow Overcoat – Tomorrow Never Knows

Tom Meade – Tomorrow Never Knows
Jad Fair & Daniel Johnston – Tomorrow Never Knows
A Minority Of One – Tomorrow Never Knows
David Fiuczynski – Tomorrow Never Knows
Supermotozoids – Tomorrow Never Knows
Irma Cerrutti – Tomorrow Never Knows
Dictionaraoke – Tomorrow Never Knows

Monsoon Featuring Sheila Chandra – Tomorrow Never Knows
Pedro Aznar – Tomorrow Never Knows
DEF – Tomorrow Never Knows

Stereo MCs – Tomorrow Never Knows
Wailing Souls – Tomorrow Never Knows
Jay Atwood & Susan MacCorkle – Tomorrow Never Knows
Tangerine Dream – Tomorrow Never Knows

Beatlejazz – Tomorrow Never Knows
Ann Dyer & No Good Time Fairies – Tomorrow Never Knows
Giovanni Guidi – Tomorrow Never Knows
Jason McNiff – Tomorrow Never Knows
Five O’clock Shadow – Tomorrow Never Knows
The Punkles – Tomorrow Never Knows
Quartetto Orchestra Sinfonica G. Verdi di Milano – Tomorrow Never Knows
8-Bit Operators – Tomorrow Never Knows
Beatallica – Tomorrow Never Comes


PS Those in Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fanclub still searching for more enlightenment, got some great Tomorrow mashups and re-edits on the wall for you…

Hype Machine

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Today we got some golden age, Post-period Björk, back when she was still somewhat fresh faced and poppy from The Sugarcubes, and long before the contrived hob-nobbing with Matthew Barney and John Cage in some half-arsed attempt gain gravitas (jeez sorry, where did that come from?). Anyway I managed to scare up 25 Versions-worthy covers of her sublime Hyperballad, which she described as

…having this kind of bag going on and three years have passed and you’re not high anymore. You have to make an effort consciously and nature’s not helping you anymore. So you wake up early in the morning and you sneak outside and you do something horrible and destructive, break whatever you can find, watch a horrible film, read a bit of William Burroughs, something really gross and come home and be like, ‘Hi honey, how are you?’.

Something I think we all can relate to, right? LOL.

I’ve always got a soft spot for brass bands, so I’m kicking off with NYC marching 12 piece, Asphalt Orchestra. In that same ballpark we also have a grip of various jazz versions from Björkestra, Sono, The Duggs Trio, Daniel Thouin, RISS, Simple Acoustic Trio and the Marcin Wasilewski Trio.
I had a hard time wrapping my head around describing next one, Paolo Angeli, but here’s a shot; Mediteranean-world-folk played on a hybrid Sardinian guitar/violin. Honestly you need to see this guy is in action to get an idea.
Pushing the standard indie-envelope is a beautiful cello version from Big Heavy Stuff, a jazzy-ish Blanket Music, and an excellent experimental mandolin-sounding choral cut from Dirty Projectors.
Slowing the pace, is a luminescent The Indigo Shift, with a whisper thin ambient piano rendition. And tacking an opposite tack is a rather frantic experiental/avant-garde/noise cut from 1/2.
Speaking of halves there were some not half bad standard covers today too. Leading the lady-cuts by far is Japanese-Brazillian connection Sawori Namekawa with a bossa-lite acoustic version. And more girl cuts abound from from Re:jazz project’s Lühning, Mocca, Robyn and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O should really do a whole album of these. Preferably in her birthday suit.). Guy standards include two acoustic Ballads from Warmer and Whitley and two straight ahead indie-ish ones from Andy Clockwise and The Twilight Singers (btw thumbs up to my friends, the perennially radiant Sandy and Cameron, for turning me on to this one.).
Lastly for my non-english speaking mon amies/amigos is a cute lo-fi French cover from Mel Odieuse and, though not my cup of tea but interesting nonetheless, is a Spanish-Celtic version from Spain’s Celtas Cortos. Riverdánth your heart out.

Asphalt Orchestra – Hyperballad
Björkestra – Hyperballad
Sono – Hyperballad
The Duggs Trio – Hyperballad
Daniel Thouin – Hyperballad
RISS – Hyperballad
Simple Acoustic Trio – Hyperballad
Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Hyperballad
Paolo Angeli – Hyperballad
Big Heavy Stuff – Hyperballad
Blanket Music – Hyperballad
Dirty Projectors – Hyperballad
The Indigo Shift – Hyperballad
1/2 – Hyperballad
Sawori Namekawa – Hyperballad
Lühning – Hyperballad
Mocca – Hyperballad
Robyn – Hyperballad (Live)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Hyperballad (Live)
Warmer – Hyperballad
Whitley – Hyperballad
Andy Clockwise – Hyperballad
The Twilight Singers – Hyperballad
Mel Odieuse – Hyperballad
Celtas Cortos – Hyperballad


Fjør mî Scåndåviån fjåns øv Thëë Vërsíøns Gålør Fåcëbøøkén Vånclübb, got bonus track on the wall for you…