Posts Tagged ‘Covers’


October 14, 2010

I’m Free – Soup Dragons from Lovegod

In my last post I mentioned how emotional response (due to its convergence with a specific event or just a time in your life) to a song can cloud our objective thoughts about a song.  I think this song may fit into that category.  Released in 1990, at a time when I was expanding my musical horizons from classic rock and finding the varied wonders of “alternative music”, this song was a minor hit and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was not quite a traditional rock song, there was a bounce in its step that was characteristic of other early 90 british bands creating danceable rock (i.e., Primal Scream).  The reggae toasting of Junior Reid and the female backup singers gospel-like singing on the chorus added to the “newness” of the approach to a rock song for me.  Of course, they were one of many bands doing this at the time in Britain.  But as my personal introduction, the song holds a special place in my musical heart.

I still find it a very good song, though it’s definitely a bit dated now.  There’s something a little stiff about the first part of the song, though Reid’s mid-song interlude and what follows seems to loosen things up.

The other thing about the song that I never knew, or knew and forgot at some point in the last 20 years, is that this is a Rolling Stones cover.  Maybe in my youth I was subconsciously drawn to the song for this reason given my classic rock upbringing.  Once knowing this, it’s kinda funny because Sean Dickson’s vocals do a pretty good Mick Jagger impression.  The original is also much more sparse in instrumentation, and I actually think the additions made by the Soup Dragons make it their own, so people like me forget this is even a cover.

Moments of Silence

September 24, 2010

Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah – Black Lips from Let It Bloom

My first real exposure to the Black Lips was when I saw them as an opener for the Ponys in Baltimore.  I’d heard a few songs and liked them, but seeing them live sold me on them.  Lots of energy that was reciprocated by the crowd.  As their set ended, the drummer flung one his drumsticks straight up in the air, smashing a stagelight above and showering some glass over the stage.  Not that crazy by the Lips’ standards, but a rock n’ roll moment for sure.

Seen them twice more since, and both times they’ve played Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah (which apparently is a cover of a 60s French song by Jacques Dutronc).  It’s a crowd favorite, even though it’s a slower-paced song than a lot of their newer stuff.  It is a good song for those up front to catch their breath.  It’s a sloppy song, even more so live.  There’s reverb, echo-y drums, a rattling tambourine, lyrics that sound like they were recorded in a air conditioning duct (it’s hard for me to make out more than every second or third word and there’s a metallic quality to the guys’ voices).

But what really makes this song for me is the pauses.  Starting for the first time around 40 seconds in, the music quiets as an organ enters and as quickly as it came disappears, and a voice (Cole or Jared, not sure which) shushes the band and then speaks a few words in French(why, who knows) and then there is nothing.  Well not quite silence, as there is a quiet hum of guitar feedback.  It only lasts for two seconds, but it builds anticipation of what’s to come.

The guitar riff kicks back in by itself.  Then the snare drops in, quickly followed by a cymbal crash.  Not sure why but it gets the hairs raised on my neck everytime.  They come back and do it again two more times over the course of the song.  I find it interesting how the lack of sound can have such an effect in a musical composition, but I’ve noticed some other songs that use silence to great effect (some of which I plan to write about in the near future).  Not sure the Lips are the kind of band to consciously think about things that way (and since it’s a cover they probably didn’t), but damn it rocks.

Here’s a live version (though in their live versions there’s usually a lot more noise during the quiet/”silence” parts):

One Man, Great Cover

June 5, 2010

Rescue – Kelley Stoltz from Crockodials

Covers can be a tricky proposition for an artist.  Taking a song that is usually beloved by the audience of that artist, and trying to either faithfully recreate it or add your own artistic spin to it.  Without doing this (shudder).  Kelley Stoltz avoids Duran Duran’s mistake and does a pretty close facsimile of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Rescue.  In fact, he decided to rerecord the entire Crocodiles album on which this song appears.  By himself, doing all the instrumentation (or so I read).  On an 8-track tape recorder.

The lo-fi aspect of the song I actually like.  The opening guitar chords are obviously not as produced, but it has a sharper edge to it than the shimmery original.  The instrumentation in general is more in your face than the original.  Stoltz doesn’t have the vocals of Ian McCulloch and the recording buries the vocals a bit as opposed to the original where the vocals dominate, but he has vocal chops and he stays pretty true to the original inflections and pauses of McCulloch.  He also replaces a full drum set with a simple tambourine (which has a role in the original) and works well with the sound of Stoltz’s guitar.

After listening to both the original and Stoltz’s a few times, I think if I had to choose one I would go with this lo-fi piece of coal over the polished gem of the original.

Here’s a live version from youtube with a full band: