This is one of my own….but it was inspired by an idea and contribution from a reader.
Just the other week I featured the cover of Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by The Wedding Present. A comment from The Robster informed me that this was the band’s second take on that particular song as it had first been aired on an LP called Alvin Lives (In Leeds) : Anti Poll Tax Trax which, as the title suggests, was aimed at raising funds to help those campaigning against a particularly unpopular piece of government legislation.
Released in 1990, it consists of 12 indie acts doing cover versions. As is often the case with a record like this, the output it is a bit hit and miss but what is quite astonishing is the sheer cheesiness of some of the choices:-
Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Five Thirty – My Sweet Lord
Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody
The Popguns – Bye Bye Baby
Crocodile Ride – I Feel Love
Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting
Corn Dollies – Le Freak
The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
The Close Lobsters – Float On
14 Iced Bears – Summer Nights
The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
The Perfect Disaster – Wanderin’ Star
It’s a bunch of huge hits from the 70s and I kind of got the feeling that having been asked to be part of what was a worthy cause and then told they had to come up with a cover of a well-known record from the 70s, most of them then tried to think what could be the most ridiculous departure from the norm.
Special mention must be made of Cud. They’ve taken one of the sacred cows of pomp rock and ripped the total pish out of it. All the words and a semblance of the tune do appear to be in place but they bash the whole thing out in a little under three minutes:-
mp3 : Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody
Anyone can see (and hear), nothing really matters to them.
Elsewhere, the song taken on by Lush is more akin to a nursery rhyme but yet somehow in their hands it works as indie-pop with meaningless lyrics while Robyn Hitchock and his mates become human beatboxes on a crazy take of a novelty song:-:-
mp3 : Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
mp3 : Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting
As you’d expect, the Weddoes do their usual fine job (and it is marginally different than the version recorded with Steve Albini and made available on the 3 Songs EP) while I was also quite taken by some parts of Le Freak in which The Corn Dollies occasionally do a fine tribute to Gang Of Four:-
mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Le Freak
There were a few disappointments, none more so than The Close Lobsters whose take on what I’ve thought was always an appalling song somehow made me long for the original although the biggest waste of vinyl has to go to Five Thirty for what is a pointless re-tread of the George Harrison hit.
When this LP was mentioned in the comments, my dear mate Dirk from Sexy Loser professed his love for this track:-
mp3 : The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
It’s one that didn’t jump out on first hearing but I’ve persisted and now fallen for its charms.
In summary, Alvin Lives (In Leeds) is, like so many other projects of this nature, a mixed-bag, but I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to learn about it after all these years. Hope those of you who aren’t familiar with the versions featured today will appreciate them.