Returning to look back at Ruby Trax.  Here’s songs 21-30:-

Maggie May  #1 for Rod Stewart in 1971, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Blur

It’s hard to imagine now but Blur would only have been an afterthought in terms of who was most sought after for appearing on Ruby oTrax.  They had enjoyed some success with the debut LP the previous year but their most recent single Popscene had bombed somewhat and the live shows were playing to half empty venues.  It’s no surprise therefore that the cover version feels a bit limp and half-hearted from a band that was very low on confidence.

Mr Tambourine Man   #1 for The Byrds in 1965, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Teenage Fanclub

A cover of a cover.

The Byrds had taken a Bob Dylan song and reduced it in length from five-and-a-half minutes to less than two-and-a-half minutes by cutting out most of the original versus.  The Fannies stick with a very faithful take on the shorter version of the song which is no real surprise given how much of an influence the 60s Rickenbacker guitar sound had on the band’s most recent material which had been hailed as the next great thing by the critics.  Great stuff if you like Teenage Fanclub but probably not much cop if you’re not a fan.

My Sweet Lord  #1 for George Harrison in 1971, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Boy George

A cover of a cover??

Being a young kid, not quite eight years of age, this is one of the first musical memories I have from listening to the radio which was mostly done first thing in the morning on the way to school or on Sundays when there was no television programmes to like.  It appealed to the kid in me but within a number of years as I developed my own tastes in music I grew to dislike it immensely. And given that I still find it rather awful to listen to and throw in my view that Boy George is another whose talents I consider to be hugely overrated then this is one that I’m glad the day the skip button was invented.

Oh and of course the reason for the question up above is that Harrison was later found, in what was very much a test case, to have infringed copyright law by plagiarising He’s So Fine, a hit for The Chiffons back in 1963.

Ring My Bell : #1 for Anita Ward in 1979, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Tori Amos

This is another one of the big surprises on the album.

The original was a lightweight disco hit that had owed much to of its success to what in the day had been innovative chimes and electronic drums with a lyric that was actually written for an 11-year old teenybop artist about teenagers talking all the time on the phone.

Tori Amos provides what can only be described as a very adult performance loaded with sexual innuendo and delivered in a way that leaves you in no doubt that this is one very horny lady ready to pounce on her man. Think Kathleen Turner in BodyHeat….

Rock Your Baby   #1 for George McCrae in 1974, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The House Of Love

A second successive disco number for your enjoyment and again it is turned inside out and almost out of all recognition.  There’s still that disco beat in the background but its given the indiepop treatment and turned into something which was very contemporary for 1992.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the song is one of the biggest selling of all time in terms of worldwide sales – 11 million physical copies of the single saw it reach #1 in countless countries – then you’d probably have taken it for a House of Love original.

Secret Love  #1 for Doris Day in 1954, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Sinead O’Connor

From the movie soundtrack Calamity Jane, the original was a ballad that would later be re-recorded in a really upbeat style in 1964 and go Top 3 for Kathy Kirby, one of the most famous mainstream female singers of that era in the UK. Over the [ast 50 years it has also been covered in many different styles including pop, disco, classical, folk, country and soul, by all sort of singers of both sexes.  Sinead takes us down the swing route and is more than decent if that sort of sound floats your boat.

Shaddap You Face   #1 for Joe Dolce Music Theatre in 1981, it was covered for Ruby Trax by EMF

Taken to #1 in more than ten countries by an American-born singer who just two years previously had moved to Australia and yet I bet most folk will think it was the work of an Italian trying to sing in a non-native language.  There is so much just wrong with the whole notion of this song – here in the UK we now cringe at some of the ‘comedy’ and ‘variety’ of the 70s and 80s where actors blacked up and adopted accents in the name of entertainment – and it’s not really different here.

It is totally unrecognisable in the hands of EMF, a band that were at the forefront of efforts in the UK to mix dance/techno with rock and pop.  They weren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I was an admirer if not a committed fan.

Show You The Way To Go  #1 for The Jacksons in 1977, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Danni Minogue

The NME has always had an annoying habit of grafting an unlikely pop icons onto its various releases and in this instance it was the youngest Minogue sister whose debut LP had hung around the pop charts for much of 1991 spawning five singles though when I look at the song titles I can’t recall any of them.

Seems apt then that the cover chosen was another song of which I had no recollection whatsoever. Even when I looked it up and read that it had been the only UK #1 for The Jacksons it still drew a blank. Looked it up on watched it on you tube….and nope, I’m still none the wiser.

Stranger In Paradise  #1 for Tony Bennett in 1955, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Saint Etienne

The song was written in 1953 as part of the Broadway stage musical Kismet which was turned into a film in 1955, the same year it came to London theatres.  Quite unbelievably, such was the public thirst for this song that six different versions charted hit the Top 20 in 1955, five of which were vocal efforts with the other an instrumental.

The original is very much of its age and so full credit to Saint Etienne for doing a reasonably modern take on it while remaining true to its roots.  Having said that, its one of the most disappointing songs on Ruby Trax as I was expecting so much more on the back of the band’s previous efforts at covers.

Suicide Is Painless  #1 for The Mash in 1980 it was covered for Ruby Trax by Manic Street Preachers

The story behind this song is quite astonishing.

It is of course the theme song for the movie and TV series M*A*S*H.  The film had been released in 1970 and the song was conceived initially for a scene in which Private Seidman would sing during the faux suicide of his colleague Private Waldowski.  The movie director, Robert Altman, insisted that the song had to be called Suicide Is Painless and that it had to be a stupid song to fit in with his vision for the scene. He had a go at writing something himself to fit with the tune composed by Johnny Mandel but having failed miserably he asked his 14-year old son to have a go… took Mike Altman all of five minutes according to folklore.

Ten years later, with the TV series at the height of its popularity, the song was given a belated single release in the UK and went to #1, the vocalists being four uncredited session singers from the day.

As mentioned the day before yesterday, this was the track chosen as a 45 to promote the album and it gave Manic Street Preachers their first experience of the Top 10.  Given that three years later Richie Edwards would disappear without a trace and then in 2008 be declared as presumed dead, it now looks as if it was a highly inappropriate choice of song to cover….but hindsight is a very easy thing to use.

mp3 : Blur – Maggie May
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Mr Tambourine Man
mp3 : Boy George – My Sweet Lord
mp3 : Tori Amos – Ring My Bell
mp3 : The House Of Love – Rock Your Baby
mp3 : Sinead O’Connor – Secret Love
mp3 : EMF – Shaddap You Face
mp3 : Danni Minogue – Show You The Way To Go
mp3 : Saint Etienne – Stranger In Paradise
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Suicide Is Painless

The fourth and final part of the series is here tomorrow


  1. I’m confused, Ruby Trax was never stuck to the front page of a magazine, if I remember correctly it was an expensive purchase.

  2. It was indeed an expensive purchase. I’ve just lumped it into an ongoing and infrequent series of compilationd that were only obtainable via music publications…..

  3. Fair enough inclusion then! Your blog is a great read and often has me scurrying to dig out my old vinyl collection. I have the Pauline Murray album you were writing about the other day, and no it wasn’t me you leant it to! Can do you a rip copy of it if you want. Keep up the great work.

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