How to Do a Cover Version

I was going to suggest this tune for The Chain this week, but decided that it needs a post all of its own.

I mentioned a little while ago that I listen to a lot of comedy shows on the BBC iPlayer, and specifically name-checked the David Mitchell hosted “The Unbelievable Truth”.

Another one that I particularly enjoy is “Dilemma”, hosted by newly anointed Queen of Having Some Professional Integrity, Sue Perkins.

On “Dilemma”, panellists are posed various awkward scenarios that they have to not only explain what they would do, but justify it too. Like tequila followed by a shot of chilli vinegar, it’s better than I just made that sound, trust me.

For example (and if they don’t use this in the next series, I’ll be annoyed): the TV show you co-host has just been sold to a rival channel. Going with it means you will get paid a lot more than you do now. Do you follow the money, or do you stay put?  (I don’t watch that Bake Off show, and never will, but gosh wasn’t it  heartening to see Mel, Sue and Mary Berry electing not to jump ship when the BBC lost the rights to air it the other week? For a fleeting moment, we all realised that some people might just be as nice in real life as we hoped.)

By the way, I find myself unable to pronounce Sue Perkins’ name as Sue Perkins since an appearance she once made on Have I Got News For You. She was on Paul Merton’s team and Merton, who was trying to quit smoking at the time, complained that he had been partnered with someone called Superkings. And so, to me, whenever I say her name out loud, it’s Superkings rather than Sue Perkins.

Anyhoo, the theme tune to “Dilemma” is this tune by Sleeper, who are the point of reference in this week’s Chain:

sleeperwhatdoidonow164417

Sleeper – What Do I Do Now?

That got covered by no less a musical God then Elvis Costello on his album with The Attractions, “All This Useless Beauty” – and when Elvis decides he’s going to re-work a tune, boy oh boy he does just that.

If you’re familiar with the original, but have never heard Costello’s version, then I urge you to listen to this. Actually, even if you don’t know the original, you should listen to this. To my mind, it’s one of the greatest cover versions ever. There, I’ve said it.

all-this-useless-beauty-5

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – What Do I Do Now?

See? Stripped back, you realise how great some of those lyrics are: “Riding her perfume downstairs…make-up like glue…spent the whole of Sunday sticking you together” – all wonderful words that are properly fleshed out in Costello’s version.

If ever there was a cover version that defined this “How To Do…” corner of the internet, then it’s that. I may as well pack up and go home now.

I’ll be back, briefly, tomorrow (Monday) – out of character, I know, for me to post on a Monday, but you’ll see why – and then I’ll meet you all back here on Wednesday for some more Chain Gang shenanigans. Assuming that I can locate the many, many suggestions I’ve received this week. (That’s not a complaint, by the way.)

More soon.

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Jez

On Twitter: @atastehistory or me (where you're more likely to get a reply and a follow back): @jezbionic or by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “How to Do a Cover Version”

  1. Never heard this. Never had any idea he even covered 90s indie bands! It was one of Sleeper’s best songs, though always felt it could have been better had it been done by a band with a better singer. As lovely as Louise Wener was/is, her voice was never particularly interesting. Sonya Madan of Echobelly on the other hand… As for Elvis – well different kettle of fish altogether. Great version.

    1. Me neither, until a friend of mine played it to me about 10 years ago, and was staggered that I didn’t know it already. It’s bloody great, isn’t it?

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