A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN
JC adds.…..Steve is a friend of old, who I first met via a mutual appreciation for Butcher Boy. He’s a stand-up comedian by trade (among many other talents as can be seen here…..) and with his permission, I’ve cut’n’pasted this from an on-going thing he’s doing on Facebook.
Steve’s Records In No Particular Order #14
Various Artists – The Last Temptation of Elvis
Ever fancied owning an album where Bruce Springsteen and Pop Will Eat Itself share the same space? We’re back to WTF here.
This is a compilation of Presley covers complied by the NME. I’m not sure if it was a mail away special or available in shops. I gather some of the songs were commissioned while some where in existence already. As with all tribute albums, it’s a mixed bag, so lets dive in –
The ”boss” (he’s not the boss of me etc etc) gives us Viva Las Vegas with his usual gruff-can’t-be-bothered-no-wait-I-can-no-wait-I-dunno-mehh attitude, it kinda works but only because I’m familiar with the ZZ Top version, which does the same but worse. It’s okay. Well done Bruce you don’t completely suck.
Track two is Sidney Youngblood (I KNOW RIGHT! SIDNEY YOUNGBLOOD 🙂 I’m so happy just to hear his name 🙂 . This is a cracking acapella version of Teddy Bear. It’s do-woppy, it’s finger-clicky, it’s cool!
Then Tanita Tikaram comes along with a version of Loving You. It’s everything you’d imagine from her – slow, dirgy and lovely in places.
Let’s Have A Party is Robert Plant‘s contribution, again like Tikaram, he seems to have gone out of his way to make this the most Robert Plant version of the song he can. It’s a shame because we know he’s got more to his locker these days.
The Pogues give us Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do. In keeping with this side, they make it their own which totally works. It becomes a London Irish drinking song. Is there anything they can’t do that to?
Holly Johnson closes the side with Love Me Tender. To be honest it’s a let down. Of all the acts you want to not experiment, it’s Holly with his lush voice but he sings low and tries to own it too much.
Side two opens with McCartney being faithful to It’s Now Or Never – you can tell he loves the song and Presley and it feels like he’s enjoying himself.
Dion sings Mean Woman Blues and it’s a nice touch that they got a rival to take part, every one loves the king. Even if this is slightly phoned in.
The Jesus and Mary Chain knock the fuck out of Guitar Man, this and Youngblood from side one are the stand outs so far. Feedback, screaming lead guitar and JAMC all over the place.
Cath Carroll & Steve Albini throw the kitchen sink at King Creole. They get some good results but fuck around half way through the song when they could have delivered a punk pop classic on it.
A nice piano bar version of Young & Beautiful by Aaron Neville. It feels a bit wedding breakfast buffet.
Now we have the biggest duffer of the lot. Fucking Vivian Stanshell & The Big Boys with It’s Hard To Rhumba In A Sports Car. You know Vivian, there comes a time when you’ll have to forgive your parents for not letting you have chocolate biscuits.. HEY GUYS LET’S DO A SKIT! The problem is when you try so hard to be zany, you’re not zany by the very definition of being zany. You can hear themselves fucking each other over their cleverness of covering an Elvis song that’s both shit and very few people know. Jolly WHAT! Tedious fuckery. Fuck off.
Sorry, I think I probably revealed more about myself in that previous bit. The Primitives give us some nice Baby You’re So Square… It’s 1990 and the Primitives are a year past their big time so they’re just happy to be here. It’s a cool version. Well done guys.
Side Three! Hall and Oates Can’t Help But Falling In Love and I can’t help wishing they’d do one, they seemingly inspired a similar version from UB40 with this and for that they can fucking spin. Sorry, I’m still annoyed about Vivian Stanshall.
Crawfish is the offering from the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra , it’s more a late 80s pop offering that wouldn’t be out of place on The Hitman and Her.
Ian McCulloch does a strange mix of Mac voice with indie guitar and RnR backing vocals version of Return To Sender. It works. The spirally guitar gives it a nice 90s indie disco feel.
FUZZBOX! FUZZBOX! FUZZBOX! They do Trouble because they are trouble….. They do it awesomely because they’re awesome. The best band of the 80s and should be worshipped as gods.
mp3 : Fuzzbox – Trouble
The Hollow Men. I was gonna make a Hollow Meh comment but it’s okay. It’s a Peel Indie version of Thanks To The Rolling Sea. You can imagine it playing in a John Hughes film when someone is crying on top of their bed because they can’t afford to go to / can’t get a date for / have detention when the big dance is on.
The Blow Monkeys – Follow That Dream. Everything you need to know about the Blow Monkeys can be learned by knowing that Michael Stipe, one of the nicest people on the planet, took the piss out of them once at a concert… no wait, it might have been Mike Mills. Anyway, if you’re being bullied by REM you don’t deserve my review…. also this is a wank version with a drum machine programmed by a 13 year old boy.
I don’t think this is Lee Perry’s Upsetters, if it is then they’re rocking out to fuck. It’s got Mick Jones on it too. Mick Green was in Johnny Kidd and Pirates. This is a strong ending to side three and reminiscent of Motorhead‘s version of Please Don’t Touch.
Side four comes back to earth with a lovely version of Wooden Heart by Nanci Griffith. It’s sweet and folky.
Jeff Healey will never top his cameo in Roadhouse in my eyes, imagine a Swayze / Healey supergroup playing ‘She’s Like The Wind’ in heaven right now – makes you wanna be a good christian just to get a ticket. Here he’s doing Down In The Alley. This feels like it’s in his set list already, it’s standard slow hand blues but it’s not forced. It’s got a groove.
The Cramps, Jailhouse Rock – Imagine this. It’s exactly as you’d imagine it. It’s fucking amazing. The Cramps loved Presley, long before the various cultural re-evaluations of the 90s / 00s / 10s. This is delivered with the frantic nerves you’d expect but I’m not going to use the phrase Psychobilly… except to say I’m not saying it.
And now, ladies and gentlemen the band we’ve all been waiting for – Les Negresses Vertes performing Marguerita. I know, me neither. It’s the NME being the NME. I sometimes think the Ironic Review from TMWRNJ was entirely at the NME. Les Negresses Vertes do a good stab at this mind you. If it was the radio I wouldn’t turn it off. It’s got a nice brass section that feels like street music from a market from a naughty country in a James Bond film. I don’t know what I’m talking about.
The penultimate song is Pop Will Eat Itself with Rock-A-Hula-Baby. It’s what you’d expect from them. It sounds like it was recorded in an afternoon with a casio keyboard and sampler. Probably was. Nice work. They keep singing ‘Elvis! El-El-El-El-Elvis’… it goes a bit Jive Bunny.
The set ends with the man himself. Elvis Presley – King of the Whole World from the Kid Galahad soundtrack. It’s session version with a false start . It’s got everything you’d want including some great lead guitar from Scotty Moore and the Jordanaires singing back up. Plus a sax solo that owns you 🙂
I reckon about a third of this record is good to excellent, a third being okay with the remaining third being mediocre at best with the exception of Stanshall who has gotten right on my tits.