Wednesday, 30 June 2010


I aim to compile a list of great cover versions of songs.

My view is that to be great a cover version has to somehow add something to the original and not just be an attempt at a carbon copy. It could be a complete re-arrangement of a track, or a great performance that takes a song to a new level or gives it a new twist.

Rather than just decide on the list myself I would like my readers to make please do so by ADDING A COMMENT BELOW (just click on the "comments" label). You don't HAVE to become a follower (but please do!), you can leave anonymous comments if you prefer; either way I WILL reply.

David Bowie: "Let's Spend The Night Together" (original by The Rolling Stones)

The Jam: "David Watts" (original by The Kinks)

Bernie wrote "The Jam's up-tempo punkish take on David Watts by The Kinks was so good that The Kinks ended up covering the Jam's version in their live gigs!"

This is the best version I could find, which has the bonus of an into. by Peter Cook and a rather glamorous friend:

Timebox: "Beggin" (original by Franki Valli and The Four Seasons):

Ray Stevens: "Misty" (original by Erroll Garner):

Bryan Ferry: "Positively 4th Street" (original by Bob Dylan):

Bernie suggested Bryan Ferry's cover of "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"; good idea, but I prefer his version of "Positively 4th Street". I wasn't sure which of these two versions to post, so here's both of them:

Rachid Taha: "Rock El Casbah" (original by the Clash):

As a huge fan of Joe Strummer Algerian performer Taha sensed something patronising in the original version and gave it an Arabic make-over.

Taha has an interesting biography: While working in a heating appliance factory in the late 1970s, Taha founded Les Refoul├ęs ("The Rejects"), a nightclub where he would spin mashups of Arabic pop classics over Led Zeppelin, Bo Diddley and Kraftwerk backbeats." (Wikipedia).

Richard Thompson: "Oops I Did It Again" (original by Britney Spears):

From one of his "1000 Years Of Popular Music" gigs.

Billy Stewart: "Summertime" by George Gershwin

Of course there are 1001 versions of "Summertime" but this is outstanding:

Sid Vicious: "My Way"

"Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (as usual) performed by Claude Francois with music by Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux and lyrics by Claude Francois and Gilles Thibault, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. In a 2007 interview, he said: "I thought it was a bad record, but there was something in it." He acquired publishing rights at no cost and, two years later, had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" at which Sinatra said he was "quitting the business. I'm sick of it, I'm getting the hell out". (Wikipedia)

Sinatra went on to popularise the song, which is now claimed to be the most covered song ever. Which is the best? There is really only one contender.

Greg Lasswell: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (original by Cyndi Lauper):

Foy Vance: "Billie Jean" (original by Michael Jackson):

The Beatles: "Twist And Shout" (original by The Isley Brothers):

Performed at The NME Awards, 1964.

John Cale: "Heartbreak Hotel" (original by Elvis Presley):

John Cale is so lonely he dies on stage. Not in the sense of forgetting his lines, and not literally:

Ike and Tina Turner: "I've Been Lovin You Too Long" (original by Otis Redding)

Sonic Youth: "Superstar" (original by The Carpenters)

In a word...creepy.

The Fall: "Lost In Music" (original by Sister Sledge)

Grace Jones: "She's Lost Control" (original by Joy Division):

OK so it's not a touch on the original. But it is different, and quite scary with the Russell Harty-bashing diva singing it.

Al Green: "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" (original by The Bee Gees):

Hayseed Dixie: "Ace Of Spades" (original by Motorhead):

Don't forget the joker!

This Mortal Coil: "Song To The Siren" (original by Tim Buckley):

Robert Wyatt: "Shipbuilding" (original by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer):

Blondie: "Denis" (original by Randy And The Rainbows):

Noel Coward sings the 1934 original of the song made famous by Amy Winehouse. Song with slides.
Well, not really. It's actually a cover by "Lady Bra Bra":

Monday, 28 June 2010

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO: Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 24/06/10

A good friend recently got hold of some tickets to see Alejandro Escovedo at the Bullingdon Arms in Oxford. Escovedo is from Austin, Texas; he writes and performs a mixture of Tex-Mex blues and Springsteen-influenced rock, sometimes acoustically and sometimes, as at The Bullingdon, with his band "The Sensitive Boys". He has an interesting biography, of which there is a summary on wikipedia.

Arriving a little late at the gig we missed the opening one or two numbers, but heard an excellent performance of the slow and moody"Fort Worth Blue", then "Down In The Bowery", both from his "Street Songs Of Love" album. The latter song was apparently inspired by a meeting with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen in a New York hotel lift. This was followed by a few upbeat numbers which I failed to identify.

As a venue The Bullingdon Arms does pretty well in booking a variety of artists, but fails pretty miserably to provide decent beer. Overcome by thirst my friends and I retired to a nearby pub offering real ale, then returned to miss the end of the band's fairly brief set. If any readers are able to do a better job of reviewing any of Escovedo's performances I will glady publish them here. In the meantime I have compiled a playlist of my favourite tracks on spotify here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

MOONSHACK: Make Me Down A Pallet On The Floor

A melodic cover of Gillian Welch's "Make Me Down A Pallet On The Floor". Actually she says, a cover of a cover as the original is by Doc Watson, but I think there is an earlier version by Mississippi John Hurt. Anyway, her is the song:


The song "Chocolate Rain" by Tay Zonday is a true internet phenomena with over 53 million hits, no doubt due to the unusual performance by the songwriter. But it is a much better song lyrically than most people probably imagine, as these samples prove:

Chocolate Rain
The school books say it can't be here again
The prisons make you wonder where it went
Made me cross the street the other day
Made you turn your head the other way
History quickly crashing through your veins
Using you to fall back down again
Seldom mentioned on the radio
It's the fear your leaders can't control
Makes the best of friends begin to fight
But did they know each other in the light?
Dirty secrets of economy
Turns that body into GDP
The bell curve blames the baby's DNA
But test scores are how much the parents made
More than marchin' more than passing law
Remake how we got to where we are
Chocolate Rain

Also the cover by YouTube star The Bathroom Girl brings out the poignancy of the song.

JOY DIVISION: Transmission

Ian Curtis's incredible performance on Joy Division's "Transmission" (1980). Fellow Mancunian John Cooper Clarke appears briefly:

THE SEX PISTOLS: God Save The Queen

The Sex Pistols, in 1977, with the new national anthem:

THE RAMONES: The Rainbow, London, 1977.

The Ramones start their set with "Blitzkrieg Bop", at the Rainbow, London, December 31st. Now that WAS a good New Year's Eve:

Thanks to RamoniacCretin for uploading the whole gig to Youtube.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

THE FALL: Blindness

A classic performance by The Fall - "Blindness" from Later With Jools in 2005:

JERSEY BUDD: Bright Soul

Jersey Budd, from Leicester UK, who has recorded for "BBC Introducing", with "Bright Soul". He is clearly more than a Springsteen sound-a-like. Good song and a clever video:

Monday, 21 June 2010

DUFFY: Warwick Avenue

Simple ideas are often the best, and the official video for Duffy's "Warwick Avenue" is simple and very effective. Duffy sits in the back of a taxi and sings (or mimes to) her song. And that is it. But you can read the song in her face, and her tears...real tears, so she said...there was no-one sat next to her chopping onions:


With a tour by Kate Mcgill starting this week I thought I would create a playlist, imagining that she might play 12 of my favourite tracks. Obviously I hope she plays a lot more than 12, and maybe throws in a few as yet unheard songs, but I must say deciding what to leave out was the hardest part of this task. So, another 12-track playlist may well be coming soon!

Track List:

  1. short straw - Kate McGill
  2. looking for me - Kate McGill
  3. kids - mgmt 
  4. fall...i fell - Kate McGill
  5. The Only Exception - Paramore 
  6. melancholy melody - Kate McGill
  7. Sweet About Me - Gabriella Cilmi 
  8. i'll always think too much of you - Kate McGill
  9. little boat - Kate McGill
  10. lost in love - Kate McGill
  11. sweet disposition - the temper trap
  12. I Kissed A Girl - Katy Perry 

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Four tracks from The Morning Benders' new album "Big Echo":


Monday, 7 June 2010


James has a large collection of 'post-rock' music on his channel. It's well put together and I have discovered many new sounds here, such as this:

MaryJen LIVE - Ein Kompliment

Some of the best cardboard box drumming, and a cool suburban setting for German funsters "MaryJen":

I'm not sure about the composers of this song (it is a cover). Can anyone help?


The labels on Mick's channel are: Black Metal, Dark Ambient, Experimental, Funeral Doom, Industrial, Speed/Thrash Metal, Drone, Noise, Classical, Digital Hardcore, Electronic Jazz, Hardcore Punk. It's a pretty extensive channel, containing many disturbingly dark tunes like this:

A new song by Kate McGill. I like the way her lyrics sound very personal to her, and I think her voice has mellowed out a bit:


Utah-based Neon Trees, with "Animal". They have been tagged "the happiest band in the World". They look pretty happy here:


Janelle Monae on the Letterman show. Comedian Peter Serafinowicz has suggested that she is the 'sex machine' created by James Brown in his secret laboratory:

Saturday, 5 June 2010

PLAN B: No More Eatin

This is an outstanding performance by Plan B at the 2006 NME Music Awards. The song seems to be autobiographical, and is about how as a kid he learned to defend himself in the tough and violent streets of Forest Gate, East London, where he grew up ('eatin' means mugging). He performs with real conviction and aggression:

Some of the fans of Plan B's rap music have criticised his recent turn to a soul / RnB sound with "The Defamation Of Strickland Banks" as some kinfd of sell-out. I do not agree. It is a change of direction, which serves to demonstrate the breadth of his talent. Besides this his latest album still has a reall edge to it.


No More Eatin' For Them Now,
No More Eatin' For Them Now,
No More Eatin' For Them Now,
All started when I was eight,
First time I ever got ate,
What a Piece of cake,
Mans eatin' off me like I was a plate,
Now I'm in the estate,
Walking the streets of Gate,
With eyes immersed with tears streaming down my bloodshot face
Because some irish kid just took my bike away,
Now my stepdad's pissed,
And he's looking for this pikey breh,
Asking me what he looked like,
I told him his clothes were nikey make,
I felt so ashamed,
When he asked me why
I let him take my bike
Without putting up a fight
All I could do was turn away,
Turn the page 6 years later
Now I'm 14 years of age,
Lifes a daze so my brain
Smoking too much purple haze... haze,
High is how I spend my days,
Still I feel to snap,
Coz though I'm holdin it down at school,
At street I'm still gettin jacked,
Still gettin attacked and ask why I can't find the balls to hit them back,
Hit em back,
Eat up these cats like I eat up a track,
It's only when I turned 16 that I start facin facts,
Saw how the weed made me act,
Kicked the habit like it was laced with crack.
No more thinkin too deep,
I aint who your crew eats,
Coz now I do peeps,
And it's worse than when I slew peeps,
Hit em hard like new beats,
Straight out the studio,
Got a dangerous mind that is spitting more dangerous rhyme than Coolio,
As I walk through the Valley,
Of the shadow of death,
Now I'm 18 years of age and I'm shottin the zest,
I still aint got no bucky or no bulletproof vest,
Just a world full of pain for the next cunt who tries test,
I'm 19 years to the day,
And it's been 3 since someones tried it,
As soon as they do imma knock their lights out like they ultraviolet,
They got their eyes on my stash,
But try to stand,
They know I'm makin cash though I look brass coz try to keep it quiet,
But I shot the choongest peng it aint no secret,
And given half a chance yo half these cats would wanna eat it,
Plus they know I don't get high so my supply builds up their appetite,
And now they wanna feed it,
Take me for a fuckin eji,
I always new it was gonna happen,
So when it did I beat the kid til he was blue n black n told him who you think your jackin?,
Packed a punch yes a punch yes that's what I was packin,
Hit the fuckin cunt so hard he already started blattin,
Before he hit the floor like a sack of potatoes,
Face plant- knocked the teeth right out his cake hole,
Then sent him on his way yo with somethin to say though,
Thought I was somethin to eat up you made a mistake bro,
You made a mistake bro,
You just made the biggest fuckin mistake of your sorry little fuckin life bro