A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT
(Our Swedish Correspondent)
Under The Covers – Other People Singing Other People’s Songs v2.0
As a cousin to the ICA’s this is not an ICA per say, it’s rather an ICA (Imaginary Covers Album) as a follow up to the 1988 release containing some stellar tracks by great 80’s artists like The Associates, Pretenders, EbtG, Aztec Camera and Echo & the Bunnymen. OK, not all tracks were great, but it’s still a great covers album.
When two of the albums that made it to the top 5 of my 2017 list both included a cover of an 80’s song I got this idea of making an imaginary version 2 of this album. When Talking Heads then showed up in JC’s ICA world cup with a song I happen to love a cover version of, it kind of decided itself.
I applied a few rules, somewhat related to JC’s ICA rules – so 10 tracks, the cover version should be decently new (which in the end became it had to be a 21st century release) and the original should be by an artist active in or related to the 80’s. A performing artist can only be represented once, but multiple songs by the same original artist are allowed.
1. Bat For Lashes – Strangelove. Bat For Lashes is a very interesting artist in her own right with 4 great albums so far. This cover was recorded for inclusion in a 2011 Gucci commercial.
2. Dum Dum Girls – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Final track on the 2011 He Gets Me High EP by Dee Dee Penny under her Dum Dum Girls moniker. Not revolutionary different to the original. Dee Dee has released a bunch of great albums in this indie style, at times she reminds me a lot of Chrissie Hynde/The Pretenders. Her latest release was under a new moniker – Kristin Kontrol, using more electronics. Also a great album.
3. Kaleida – 99 Luftballons. London duo Kaleida released their debut album last year, and one of the tracks that got the ball rolling for this album. I can’t stand the original by Nena, never could and never will – but this version is cracking – and in impeccable German. Kaleida’s album made it high on my 2017 top list, electronic beauty you should give a listen.
4. Glenn Gregory – Party Fears Two. Included on the volume 3 of Music of Quality and Distinction by B.E.F (released 2013) and nowadays a regular inclusion on Heaven 17‘s live sets. A beautiful homage to the late Billy MacKenzie.
5. Bryan Ferry – Johnny & Mary. Originally by Robert Palmer on his 1980 Clues album, on what must have been the transition from blues rocker Palmer to (synth)pop Palmer. The album is a schizophrenic mix of traditional blues rock numbers and synth-based pop songs, even including a cover of I Dream of Wires. Transferred by Mr Definition of Cool to a true Ferry style song on his 2014 Avonmore album. Great version if you ask me, but then I always have had a weak spot for Ferry’s lounge cool style.
1. Fuzz Against Junk – Born Under Punches. So I kick off side B with a rule breaker, this was actually released 1999 – and thus does not comply to my rules. But then those are only my rules, and mine to break…Since early 90’s I was a lot into house and dance music, one of the cooler labels was London based Nuphonic and most of all brother duo Faze Action (debut album Plans & Designs is still marvelous!). Nuphonic released 4 albums in a series showcasing their acts and on volume 1 I was knocked over by the track Country Clonk by Fuzz Against Junk. They only released a total of 4 12″ singles, the second being a very danceable version of the Talking Heads song.
2. HANA – Here Comes The Rain Again (live). I found LA based HANA by chance as she opened up for Purity Ring when I saw them on their 2015 US tour. She did this great update to one of my fave Eurythmics songs (a song also covered by Billy MacKenzie by the way). I later saw her in Stockholm opening up for Grimes, she did this again – but unfortunately didn’t include it on her debut EP. An album is due at some point this year, I hope it will appear then – for now we have to do with a live recording from her 2016 tour.
3. She & Him – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. From the 500 Days of Summer movie soundtrack by charming She & Him – the combination of M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel just couldn’t go wrong, could it. A movie I truly enjoyed, funny, sweet and loads of great music.
4. Lydia Ainsworth – Wicked Game. From this Canadian singer’s 2nd album, and one of 2017 absolutely best albums, Darling Of The Afterglow. This cover of the Chris Isaak original is truly amazing, every time I play the record I have to put the needle (yes, I’m a vinylist) back and play it again at least 2 – 3 times. Gives me the chill, the original is great and Lydia managed to add something more to the song.
5. Johnny Cash – Hurt. So I end side B in the same way I started it – with a rule breaker. The original isn’t from the 80’s, the band just made their (his) debut in ’89, so the 80’s connection can be questioned. You might also argue that the 80’s wasn’t really the most successful or even active decade for the man in black, but I claim he was always relevant in some sense – and this cover from his 2002 American Recordings IV happens to be one of the most heartbreaking recordings ever made. The video to it is simple but so strong, a fantastic companion to the recording. I can’t imagine a stronger closer to this record, as the needle reaches the runout groove and Johnny closes the lid to his piano nothing remains, it’s all said and done.