Tuesday, September 17, 2019

We Got You Covered

I have a whole bunch more WoW Classic posts in mind - the thing's like a post idea generator right now - but I get the feeling it might be time for a palette cleanser. So why not let's have some more cover versions! That's not a question, by the way.

Last time I led with an outstanding cover of an Eno song. Here's a version of another tune written by Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, to give him his full name. (Although if you google "Eno's Full Name" you'll find it's just Brian Peter George Eno, apparently). Ask him, next time you meet him.

Performed by "Courtney and me", the me in question being William Trevaskis, it would almost be the definition of bedroom pop if they weren't playing in their living room so as not to wake the baby. It's not that great a cover, technically, but it's so charming that doesn't figure.

They also have a cover of "Equestrian Statue" by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, for which all the music is produced on Commodore 64 and Gameboy. That one sounds disturbingly professional. The keyboard Courtney's playing in the video is a Commodore 64 one, too, I think.

For a full-on professional cover of yet another of Eno's seemingly bottomless barrel of superb songs, who better than St Vincent? I'm yet to be entirely won over by Annie Clark but I won't argue that everything she does is steeped in quality and this is no exception.

(That's enough Eno. Ed.)

Changing gears, next up we have Kira Piru with a pretty straight cover (possibly not the best choice of adjective...) of Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night". There are better covers of this seminal banger around, not least this one by The Vaccines and Kira's band kinda flatten everything a bit. Also her vocal is a little linear but but I just love her attitude and the way she's so obviously enjoying herself, even if the band aren't entirely on board with the vibe.

The performance comes from Australia's Triple J radio station. They have a show called "Like A Version", where they "invite a musician or band into our studios, tell them to bring their instruments along, stick microphones in front of them and ask them to play one of their own compositions as well as a song they love by someone else." The results are mixed but there are some real gems in there. They have a YouTube channel or you can go straight to the source.

There are a few radio stations, broadccast and web-based, that have strands or programs that do something very similar. BBC Radio 1's "Live Lounge" is one of the best known, not least because the station's profile means they get some really major players in, keen to show off their chops. It seems to get quite competitive at times.

Just a week ago, Lana del Rey did Ariana Grande's "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" while apparently reading the lyrics from a smart phone. It's weird but good weird. Supposedly it's a fairly faithful version but since I haven't heard the original I can't really comment. I've been trying to get up to speed with Ariana Grande but so far I haven't made much progress.

I'm all over Charli XCX though! Here's her girl-power dismantling of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off". Tay's classic is bombproof. I've heard so many covers and the brilliant clarity of the original, one of the best pop songs of the decade, always shines through.

Charli, a force of nature in her own right and a true force for good in the world, gives it everything and then some. Her kick-ass band, sublimely cool in black-and-white stripes, hit an almost motorik groove as they give out with some of the best call-and-response backing vocals since The Shangri-Las.

The third cover-specialist channel I mine for nuggets is A.V. Undercover, which sadly ended in 2017 after eight seasons. They had an unusual take on the covers concept in that they sent a list of twenty-five songs to the bands who were booked for each season and as each band chose one it was removed from contention, leaving the slower respondents with an ever-diminsihing choice.

That's probably why the overall quality isn't all that. A few bands are playing songs they'd never even heard of, let alone heard. When the right band gets the right song, though, you get Charlie Bliss joyously re-decorating one-hit wonder Len's "Don't Steal My Sunshine".

Or, even better, The Regrettes incinerating The Sweet's glam stomper "Fox On The Run".

So much for big, commercial organizations showcasing major acts and celebrated indie comers. Let's finish with a couple of "press record and hope" bids for internet fame. Actually, the first one's a bit higher than that on the indie food chain. "My Toys Like Me" have a detailed wikipedia entry, two albums and a live history that includes supporting CSS and playing (way down the bill) at several major festivals. They also make some striking videos.

Even so, their eerie, disconnected cover of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do" has only managed to rack up around 7,000 views in nine years It rather makes the case for one of the six comments it's received in that time: "...the best band no-one has heard of".

And finally... a ukulele cover of The Ramones political, polemical classic "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg". To be frank, I have mixed views on the ukulele. At the one extreme you have the superb Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and at the other a million hamfisted covers recorded in bedrooms across the known world on webcams set slightly askew... as, all too often, are the vocals.

The YouTube search I just did to find this particular number turned up no fewer than five uke covers of Bonzo plus a bunch more on acoustic guitar. What it is about The Ramones that make people think they're perfect for four or six nylon strings? It beats me... oh, wait, no it doesn't... three chords!

Maybe one of the other uke covers is better than its.a.peach's. I haven't watched them all to check. I always really liked this country-inflected version, though, so that's what we're going with. I guess I'm not alone because after five years it's up to 45k views.

That's it for now. I could go on but there's only so many links I can expect anyone to click. I have some ideas percolating for the next few music posts, including songs about superheroes and songs by bands with the word "Pony" in their name or the title of the song. I have a couple of dozen of those downloaded and I'm always looking for more.

Such fun!


  1. Listened to most of them. Not to my taste in most cases, but at least not terrible.
    I'm actually within the broadcast area of triple j so sometimes listen to stuff in the car, though more recently I've taken to playing music videos off youtube to keep the kids entertained.

    1. I included a lot more very commercial pop in this post than usual. Only a smattering of weird, fuzzed-up micro-indie stuff! I find covers by people with a major profile very interesting. They have far more to lose by their choice of material and how they approach it than two people in their bedroom that no-one's ever going to hear about.

      Next time I do a covers post I might go the other way. There are some very bizarre videos out there!


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide