Saturday, 31 March 2007

Cover Versions

Cover versions are perfectly acceptable in rock and roll music. Some are shit and terrible versions of the original, but then some rock and roll is shit so I don't see what the fuss is. I have decided to compile a top three favourite cover versions, and do a bit about them. I am not including live cover versions, unless they are released on a live album that is creditable, not one of the shit compilation live albums. I am also deciding not to do versions of old blues tunes, as otherwise all these might be Zeppelin, The Doors and the Stones, who all robbed Chess records like bastards. This is changeable, and I might add more to it on day. These aren't in order.

1. A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall - Bryan Ferry

This is outstanding. Probably my favourite solo Ferry track, which is why it makes the list, as solo Ferry is usually covers. That's why I don't see what all the fuss about him doing a Dylan covers album is all about, he has been doing covers albums, and particularly Dylan covers throughout his solo career. Anyway, the song. Well its a glam rock stomper, that sounds just like early Roxy, but with the ace melody of 'Hard Rain' from the Dylan tune. It's the textbook definition of a good cover. Change it, but keep it exactly the same, if that makes sense. The spirit of the song remains, the important bits, but yet it sounds totally new. Good work Bryan.

2. Here Comes the Sun - Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

This is better than the original. The original is a great melody, but with a weak backing. When George say's "It's alright", i'm inclined not to believe him. It's like he is hiding something. When Steve Harley sings it, the world is good. It is, similar to Ferry, a stomper made out of a quiet tune, and it doesn't half work. There are glitzy 70's electronic whirls and fizz's all over this track, and although some people might think this makes the record sound dated, I disagree, it makes in summery, and makes you smile. Because the sun is coming, and that is a good thing.

3. I Heard it Through the Grapevine - The Slits

This is brilliant. I would have thought Marvin Gaye couldn't be improved, but I am wrong. Well I dont know if this is an improvement, it's just really different. It sounds like the Slits doing Motown. If you don't know The Slits, they are very hard to describe, but its lo-fi reggae garage feminist punk. Something like that anyway. And its messy and chaotic and scratchy. Everything that Motown isn't, which is a good thing. Much as I love Motown, hearing someone taking the funkiness of Motown and making it punky, wow. Writing that down even makes it sound good.

So there you go, my favourite 3 cover versions. There are ones that made it close, such as the Amboy Dukes version of Them's arrangement of 'Baby Please Don't Go', The Flamin' Groovies version of 'Paint It Black' and, somewhat more predictable, The Jimi Hendrix Experience version of 'All Along the Watchtower' but I tried to go for ones people might not have heard. I think that there are some artists that should never be covered, namely Stevie Wonder, particularly the 'Music in my Mind' through to 'Fullfillingness...' era. I'd like to hear someone have a decent go at 'Uptight' though. I also don't think PiL should ever be covered. Or The Fall.

Currently Listening to Pull Tiger Tail 'Let's Lightning' single


Thursday, 29 March 2007

Bono and Deep Purple

Bono is a nob. He is such a hypocrit it infuriates me. Today, check me out for being topical, he was named A Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of The British Empire. He won't be given the title of 'Sir' because he isn't a British national. It was given for his services and contribution to both music and the fight against poverty. Now first of all, U2 do not deserve a knighthood. I am assuming that this knighthood is for U2 as a group effectively, as I can't think of anything he has done as a solo artist, other than one line in 'Do They Know It's Christmas?'. They have no doubt made some alright music in their time, not all my cup of tea, but the first couple of albums are quite good, and particularly the live EP 'Under a Blood Red Sky', but they haven't really made a life changing contribution to music (and what the hell was that giant lemon about?) in the way that Macca or Jagger have. Admittedly neither Macca nor Jagger did it on their own, but that's a whole different blog. Anyway, so on the basis of them having made some half decent records and flogged truckloads of them, they gain a Knighthood. Ridiculous. Also, on the contribution to fighting poverty thing, I am totally cool with Bono using his powers to talk about it to people that you or I could not reach. Fine. But he could do a bit more about it couldn't he? Such a fucking hypocrit. Why don't U2 pay to do a gig, then give all the money they make to Oxfam or Unicef or whoever? That would make lots of money. In fact, fuck it, do a whole tour. I don't know, but they have shedloads of cash themselves and are telling me to give more money? Millions of starving people in the world, give lots of money to charity, excellent idea, then pay £125 fucking pounds to go see U2 at the City of Manchester Stadium on their Vertigo World Tour? Don't give me that shit.

My beer has run out which is disappointing. I have just put side two of 'Fireball' by Deep Purple on the stereo. I am in a 70's mood lately, paying some Allman Brothers, Blood on the Tracks, Deep Purple etc. I'll put the MC5 back on soon so I don't become a hippy. Mind you, not that I would call Deep Purple hippies. Criminally underated band. So fucking good. Miles better than Sabbath, yet all they're remembered for is Smoke on the bloody Water, which is a fucking good tune, if you listen to it again, rather than just snobbishly rule it out because it's on 'Air Guitar Anthems', because guess what, so is 'Ace of Spades' and that is ridiculously good. The 'Made in Japan' live album by DP is so good. And the three albums from which all that material comes from, namely 'Deep Purple in Rock', 'Machinehead' and 'Fireball' are all quality 70's rock records. So it's time they become critically acclaimed I feel. Maybe I'll play 'Speed King' to a New Young Pony Club fan.

Currently listening to 'Fireball' by Deep Purple


Wednesday, 28 March 2007

New Young Pony Club

New Young Pony Club (NYPC) got lucky with that 'Ice Cream' hit that they had ("I can give you what you want" etc) which is now regular fodder at indie discos up and down the country, and has progressivly moved later and later in the setlist. The indie up-starts have taken to it and the catchiness is obvious. But you have to wonder what's going on with them. They seem to lack some kind of reckless abandon that I want in my rock and roll bands. The latest single, 'The Bomb' is similar in vein to 'Ice Cream', but doesn't have quite as much catchiness. I'm not quite sure of the point. Its danceable but it isn't going to inspire you. I can't imagine that you would ever hear anything by NYPC (certainly in the near future) that is going to make you turn round and form a band, and start fucking things up, as rock and roll should. It's pretentious. It suits the kids who wear luminous skinny jeans, who don't dance, but strike poses in some form of rhythm provided by the latest hip 7 inch single. And I'm not sure why it is. It's not the style of music. The whole scratchy sharp thing can have passion, check Gang of Four, Talking Heads, early Echo and the Bunnymen, even The Gossip have more passion. I'm sure that NYPC would have Lester Bangs turning in his grave. I think they epitomize the scene at the moment, NYPC. I realise that there are lots of subscenes in the indie scene these days, as has always been the case I guess. Most of the kids that dance to NYPC won't have bought it, most probably they will have downloaded it illegally. If not, then they will probably have downloaded it off iTunes. Most won't have heard the music that has inspired NYPC, and is, for my money, considerably better. How many would know 'Metal Box'? I don't want to sound like an old man, because I think it's good that proper scenes are forming, that people will fight for. I like that. It's a romantic image of rock and roll. But, I'm not sure that this kind of music (NYPC) is what I am after. I much prefer the Horrors. Now they are exciting. Brash, chaotic and properly rock and roll. I don't buy the bullshit about them all dressing like that before they met etc, but I don't mind that they have created that image for themselves, after all, we all like The Cure don't we? And it's the same look. The Cure created it for themselves, so why can't The Horrors? I can't imagine I would ever see NYPC lob a bin full of beer cans into a crowd of music business executives as Faris Rotter did at this years SXSW. Anyway, NYPC, danceable and 'scene' but somewhat lacking for my money.

Currently listening to Echo and the Bunnymen 'Shine So Hard' live EP


Tuesday, 27 March 2007

The Rockets

The Rockets are a local band who I am giving some unashamed plugging to. They sound kind of like 'Pablo Honey' era Radiohead, but with socially concious lyrics. They have a sparkling new website, much prettier than this will ever be. Have a listen, write something about them and email it to me if you want to give them a review, or talk about them or something. John you are not allowed to talk about your own band.

Hopefully a posh banner will appear here now.

Currently listening to Paint It Black by the Flamin' Groovies, which is on the b-side of the 12 inch single Feel A Whole Lot Better



'Tommy' by The Who is often considered a classic album. I wonder if this is mainly due to the novelty of it being a 'rock opera' and all, but it does have some quality tunes on it. The Overture and Underture bits are my favourites, not really sure why. I think the way that they write almost religious songs is good, like the last bit of 'We're not Gonna Take It'. But the story always seems to lack something to me. If I hadn't seen the film then it would be hard to follow, bits just happen, have you noticed that? Anyway, besides the point. Why aren't more bands being adventurous and trying something like this? It doesn't have to be complicated music like Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky in order for it to be adventurous. Admittedly, 'Tommy' could do with scrapping the shit little interludes, like 'Tommy's Holiday Camp', but then I don't think The Who could make an album without some humour. There are weak tracks, everyone knows that, but Townshend is a genius rhythm guitar player, and his chords are always amazing so they get through. A mate of mine called John feels that the movie soundtrack is superior, but I am inclined to disagree, I think the musicians reproducing the tracks just don't match the controlled mayhem that is The Who as a rhythm section. There's no feeling that the band might just slip out of Townshends grip, which 'Tommy' has. They have reissued Live at Leeds with a second disc containing the 'Tommy' bit that is represented by Amazing Journey/Sparks on the original record. I'm not sure I want the whole of Tommy in the middle though, and I don't think I would want to here 'Tommy' live, it wouldn't have my favourite stuff, it wouldn't feel so gigantic and I'm not sure it would carry well. I also don't know if they have taken Amazing Journey/Sparks off the first disc. I could check but I'm not going to. I am taking comfort in the people shelling out for the new version and not getting Amazing Journey/Sparks in the original track listing. They have to wade through the whole of 'Tommy' to get it. Having said that, I haven't heard it, and am slightly miffed that my copy doesn't have it.

Last Fm got better last night, played me something I hadn't heard before by Teengenerate, so that was worthwhile.

Currently Listening to Daft Punk - Discovery


Monday, 26 March 2007


If you read this and fancy making a contribution to the blog then feel free, and just email me with your post and I'll have a look and put it up. Anything in the indie, garage rock, hip-hop, electro alternative kind of stuff really. Old and new, if you just want to get something of your chest, or defend a critically discarded band, just send me your stuff.




This is my first ever blog, and probably my last, let's see how often I do it. I am just going to ramble about bands and songs on here. I just got last fm today after being recommended it by a friend, but so far it has only played things I already knew, albeit good stuff. But who knows. I also bought the Leonard Cohen debut today on LP, which is a criminally late purchase of a classic album. But I had the hits, so you know, I think I can be forgiven. Anyway, its bought now. Last Fm just chucked up a live Eagles of Death Metal tune which was ok. The Sonics was the best thing so far.


Currently Listening to Last Fm