FROM THE ARCHIVES – 5 JANUARY 2008

HATS OFF TO THE BUSKERS

I don’t know if the ongoing slump in record/CD sales is being mirrored similarly in the circulation figures of music papers and magazines.

Nowadays I’ll only buy something if there’s the promise of a decent-length article on someone I particularly admire. Failing that, I’ll grab a hold of a magazine or two to take away on holiday just in case there turns out to be a hellishly long flight delay and the battery on the i-pod decides to give up the good fight.

Every now and again I will hand over a few pounds if the CD that’s attached to the cover is of any interest. I rarely give a second glance to a CD that is a round-up of tracks from recent LP releases, but I’ll admit to being a sucker when a special effort is made to produce a tribute CD. I did the other month with an edition of Uncut which comes with Like A Hurricane – A Tribute to Neil Young.

I mention this as a rather rambling intro to what today’s songs are all about.

A few years ago, mid- 2003 to be precise, I actually bought two copies of a particular edition of Uncut, simply because they had two separate CDs entitled White Riot – A Tribute to The Clash, featuring a total of 32 singers and bands doing cover versions of the songs of Strummer/Jones (and Simonen and Headon).

Like most tribute albums, some of the offerings turned out to be half-decent, and one or two I would even go as far as to say are truly inspired. Others are just insipid, while others are plain weird.

Most annoying of all however, is the fact that a couple of them are what I would class as lazy – covers which note for note and beat for beat are far too similar to the original.

Some of the songs were taken from other tribute LPs or were a gathering together of b-sides or album tracks, while some turned out to be exclusive recordings previously unavailable before (or indeed since). And while I would never dream of claiming that any of them were superior to the original recordings, there’s some of them been given space on the above mentioned i-pod.

Things like these:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – 1977
mp3 : The National – Clampdown
mp3 : Josh Rouse – Straight To Hell
mp3 : Pete Wylie – Stay Free

Incidentally, the last of the above was recorded live at a tiny pub in Haddington, East Lothian at a gig that I’m sure a mate of mine was at. If you’re reading this Mr Greer, be sure to tell us all if that was indeed the case.

JC

3 thoughts on “FROM THE ARCHIVES – 5 JANUARY 2008

  1. The following year Mojo did a cd called Radio Clash, and although the theme was different, it included a live version of White Man In Hammersmith Palais by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros from the 100 Club which has still not turned up anywhere else. Worth checking out.

  2. When the originals are so vital, so familiar, so important to us, and still so relevant, it’s hard for another artist to produce a version worth listening to. Of all the Clash covers I’ve heard over the years the only one I love is Nouvelle Vague’s take on ‘Guns of Brixton’ because it’s such a departure. Same can be said for most of NV’s albums.

  3. Great choice JC. I also bought both CDs – well actually Mrs DAM did, phoning me from the station to ask whether she should buy the same magazine twice. I remember the Hawksley Workman cover of Bankrobber and Joy Zipper’s Hitsville UK as standouts at the time. Just listened to the first Cd again and it is more varied than I remembered. Aloso worth seeking out are a compilation called Sevilla Calling (with a Southern Arts Society version of The Right Profile which sounds like The Stranglers) and a CD version of A Never Ending Story Tribute with Red Letter Day’s Straight to Hell sounding like The Skids. None of these are better than the originals, but as JC says, a half-decent cover is worth giving i-pod space to.

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