Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Spreading the joy of music

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I've just been through one of my periodic MP3 player spring cleaning exercises. This is a slightly trickier business than it might first seem.
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On an organised trip to Egypt a few years back I managed to wire my MP3 player into the antiquated boom box that served as our boat's entertainment system then set-up a playlist that managed to satisfy both the Egyptian crew (Bob Marley) and our tour leader (Crowded House), even though I didn't share their tastes. The moral being that it always pays to keep some rubbish records on your player should you ever help with an impromptu disco somewhere in the 3rd World.

Anyway, I have traditionally used my periodic MP3 player tidy-ups as an excuse to mouth-off about iPods.
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I don't really have an axe to grind over iPods themselve per se, though there are better players around. Hey, some of my best friends use iPods and I once shared a flat with someone who was part iPod. No, it's the manipulative iPod marketing that really gets my goat. Particularly the image of 'fashionable' people jiggling around, completely cocooned from what's going on around them. Now there's a narcissistic icon for the 21st century. Stick a hood on the f*ckers and portray them jerking off and they'd have no need to interact with anyone else at all.
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Ooops, and there was me implying that I wasn't going to launch into iPods this time. Naughty me.
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No. This evening's spring clean left me pondering upon some of the more outre tracks on my player. So here is my top five recommended list of bizarre cover versions that shouldn't work but actually do, in a strange 'bad is good' kind of way
  1. Common People, Pulp - covered by William Shatner and Joe Jackson on supporting vocals
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  2. Gin and Juice, Snoop Doggy Dog - covered by The Gourds, bluegrass style
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  3. Hey Joe/ Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix - covered by Marc Almond/ Soft Cell
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  4. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin - covered by Rolf Harris
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  5. Don't You Want Somebody to Love, The Jefferson Airplane - covered by Jim Carey.
Naturally, if anyone bumping into this blog has additional items to add to this list I will welcome their input but only if their contributions are of equal quality to the tracks listed above. In particular, I am very keen to re-experience the eerie thrill that passed through my body the first time I listened to the William Shatner / Joe Jackson collaboration or a very young, and very camp, Marc Almond singing 'Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?'. Drugs don't even start to get me there.
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Next time: Stef's list of covers, mostly by Johnny Cash, that sound better than the original versions, then Stef's top twenty five cover versions of Walking in Memphis complete with pictures of his other half, but no Muriel, sitting by a piano in the Hollywood Cafe on a Friday
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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to add anything by 'Hayseed Dixie" http://www.hayseed-dixie.com/mercantile.htm
l particuarly AC/AD's 'You Shook Me All Night Long'. But on covers that are actually wonderful Johnny Cash is hard to go past with tracks such as Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt' and Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus'. Johnny in his twilight is spectacular with a voice that sounds like each breath may be his last. He managed to wring out anohter 2 or 3 years somehow.

Stef said...

Mmmmm, Hayseed Dixie - the name sounds promising already ...

Re. Johnny Cash - first saw the video for Hurt only a few weeks ago. I almost cried for the first time in 15 years ...

Richard said...

Perhaps its a sign of my great age that 'Hounds of Love' by 'The Futureheads' sets my teeth on edge. That's another one for your list.

Stef said...

Haven't actually heard that Futureheads version ...

... until earlier this evening that is. By the sound of it they tried to do the cover in the style of Haircut 100. Dark and disturbing indeed.

Yes, definitely one for my list, thank you

Peter said...

I submit a well-mentioned one: Joe Cocker's cover of 'With a Little Help From My Friends'. It's more powerful than The Beatles' one.

The Clash covered a few old songs. I know Police & Thieves and I Fought The Law are covers. Haven't heard the originals but I can't imagine them being better.

And a very controversial one: Red Hot Chilli Peppers' cover of Havana Affair by The Ramones. I love both but the Chillis' version is so cool.

Stef said...

Peter, you're cheating and took the easy way out - the only one I didn't know was the RHCP Ramones cover (and I've just listened to that)

All of these are good records. Disappointingly so.

Surely you've come across something in the much more challenging 'so bad that it's good category'?

Peter said...

Yeah I kinda missed the point there. The only one I can think of is New Found Glory's punk cover of The Turtles' 'So Happy Together'. Pretty bad, although maybe not bad enough to be good.

Stef said...

Missing the point is half the fun of life and should be encouraged at all times

Just listened to 'So Happy Together' - you're right, bad, but not bad enough to achieve true greatness ...