Continuing with the look back at Ruby Trax. Here’s songs 11-20:-
Down Down #1 for Status Quo in 1975, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Cud
Cud were a much-loved outfit among the indie cognoscenti back in the early 90s. They had finally managed, after a number of years, to get onto a major label and with its backing crack the singles charts, albeit in the lower end of the charts rather than smash hits end. I personally never fell for the charms of Cud and anything I have of theirs has come via inclusion of compilation albums or more recently from downloading via blogs.
I think their take on the famous 12-bar boogie hit Quo demonstrates where the problem lies. It’ not that it’s a bad effort – it diverges enough to sound more like Cud than the Quo particularly with the occasional changes in pace – but not enough to warrant more than a couple of listens before becoming all too dull
Everything I Do (I Do It For You) #1 for Bryan Adams in 1991, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Fatima Mansions
The very inclusion of this song must have raised eyebrows. It had spent 16 weeks at #1 in the UK the previous year and had become hugely symbolic of everything that was wrong with pop and chart music at that point in history. It was a soppy, sentimental ballad that soundtracked a hit movie starring the then biggest box office draw in Hollywood. Even when the radio stations stopped playing it, the sales still mounted up as folk came out of the cinema and headed the next day into the record shops. To steal a phrase from my dear friends from the States….this song sucks.
So there was nobody better placed than Cathal Coughlan and his band of outlaws to offer their sleazy, jazz/hip-hop fusion take on it. To steal it back from the tasteless rich and give it back to those in need of quality music. And it gave the band a Top 10 hit!!
Yup….to help publicise Ruby Trax it was decided to issue a 45 with Manic Street Preachers take on The Theme From M.A.S.H. selected for task. The Fatima Mansions were selected as the other track for the double-A release (knowing fine well that radio stations would completely ignore it!) but it enabled them to claim success…and in the same way that a few years previously when an MME charity single had put Wet Wet Wet on one side and an unexpected #1 placing for Billy Bragg.
Go Now #1 for The Moody Blues in 1965, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Tin Machine
I am so sorry that for completeness sake this has to be included. It’s just downright awful. It’s a live version, the vocal is from Tony Sales and it makes your ears bleed.
I Feel Love #1 for Donna Summer in 1977, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Curve
Going straight from the ridiculous to the sublime. One of the greatest singles of all time….not that I immediately recognised that fact back in 1977….given a stunning goth disco makeover by a band that had just burst onto the scene but who would sadly never turn their talent and critical acclaim into commercial success.
Turn this one up loud and get dancing.
(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice #1 for Amen Corner in 1969, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Aztec Camera & Andy Fairweather-Low
This is an interesting one.
Aztec Camera were long removed from their indie beginnings. Roddy Frame was now increasingly writing and recording mature, acoustic numbers that were sometimes brilliant but all too often toppled over into what has since been described as dad-rock. He had already tipped his hat to this song by writing and recording a song called Paradise on the hugely succesful Love album back in 1987 and for the charity recording he went two steps further – the first being to decide to cover the song that he had referenced back in 1987 and the second to ask the man whose vocal had helped take it to #1 in 1969 to join him on the track.
The song was originally written in Italian where it had been a huge success and when translated into English became the fifth successive hit single for Amen Corner, a band from Cardiff in Wales who were all in their early 2os but played with a maturity that belied their years…..sort of similar to Mr Frame himself.
I’m A Believer #1 for The Monkees in 1967, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Frank & Walters
Those of you who are an age with me will have grown up with The Monkees thanks to their shows being endlessly repeated during the couple of hours that BBC1 dedicated daily to children’s TV in the 70s – it was a period just when you got home from school and it stopped when the evening news came on.
All of their hit songs were therefore very well-known and none better than I’m A Believer, a track originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond. It had been covered before its inclusion on Ruby Trax and it would be covered again by other singers and bands in later years. It is also very much a staple of the karaoke scene.
It’s such a brilliantly simple composition that it is near impossible, provided you stick to the formula, to do anything wrong with it. The Frank & Walters – another band who really deserved to be much more successful and famous than it turned out for them – give us a faithful enough interpretation to be enjoyable.
I’ve Never Been To Me #1 for Charlene in 1982, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
The original, which had been released in 1977 but only became a hit five years later after it what would be described today as going viral on the back of it being played constantly by a DJ at a radio station in Tampa, Florida. The song, which is atypical of the playlists you find on easy-listening stations, proved to be a worldwide hit but the only success that Charlene ever experienced. A genuine bona-fide one-hit wonder.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin do all sorts of strange and occasionally wonderful things to the song and for 99% of the time it is completely unrecognisable. Even the vocal doesn’t register for the most part. And here’s the rub…it doesn’t even sound all that much like too many other tracks the band recorded during their career.
This was one that I thought I’d hate given the low regard I had for the original, but its one of my favourites on the compilation.
Lady Madonna #1 for The Beatles in 1968, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Kingmaker
Back in 1992, Kingmaker appeared to be on the cusp of something big. They had picked up a sizeable following in the old-fashioned way of constant touring and were beginning to make an impact on the mainstream charts. It made perfect sense therefore to have them on Ruby Trax and select them as the band to have a stab at a Beatles number…that they chose the one that had, within its title, the name of the biggest and most succesful pop artist in the world was probably a bit of an in-joke.
Like a number of other efforts on this compilation, the band played it reasonably safe with their interpretation and just about got away with something passable. History shows however, that within three years the fickle world of indie pop had all but turned its back on Kingmaker.
Like A Prayer #1 for Madonna in 1989, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Marc Almond
I can just imagine the sense of excitement in the NME offices when word came through that Madonna’s people were OK with one of her biggest hits being given the green light for Ruby Trax. But how best to do justice to a song that was OTT in so many ways with its mix of pop, dance and gospel not to mention a still reasonably fresh controversy over a video that had depicted a racist murder by the Klu Klux Klan and the appearance of a black saint.
The answer was to send for Marc Almond who had a great history when it came to cover versions. And he doesn’t disappoint adding more than a touch of soul and camp to the number so that it sounds like one own. And listen closely for the quick inclusion of The Theme From Mission Impossible that is thrown in at just after the 4 min mark…
Little Red Rooster #1 for The Rolling Stones in 1964 , it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Jesus & Mary Chain
Fact: Little Red Rooster is the only time a blues song has topped the singles chart in the UK which it did for one week in December 1964. It had originally been recorded three years earlier by Howlin’ Wolf and like many famous blues songs it contains a highly ambiguous lyric. Yup, it could very well be innocent enough about a farmyard animal whose task was to waken every up as the sun rose, but then again the Rolling Stones version was banned from being released as a single in the USA….despite an earlier version by Sam Cooke being given the OK. But then again, the Stones were the bad boys of rock’n’pop in those days….just as the JAMC had been when they had first burst onto the scene.
And the boys from East Kilbride more than do it justice with another of the best efforts on the album.
mp3 : Cud – Down Down
mp3 : The Fatima Mansions – Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
mp3 : Tin Machine – Go Now
mp3 : Curve – I Feel Love
mp3 : Aztec Camera & Andy Fairweather Low – (If Paradise) Is Half As Nice
mp3 : The Frank & Walters – I’m A Believer
mp3 : Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – I’ve Never Been To Me
mp3 : Kingmaker – Lady Madonna
mp3 : Marc Almond – Like A Prayer
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Little Red Rooster
Feel free to drop in tomorrow for the next instalment of this short series.