How To Do a Cover Version

So, when I was writing Friday Night’s Music Club, I realised that somehow I had managed to avoid posting anything by Teenage Fanclub and vowed to rectify that. And here we are.

I first came across their version of this song on a cassette that was given away free with the NME, a celebration of Glastonbury that included live performances by acts playing at the mother of all festivals. So, this, then, is from their 1993 appearance:

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Teenage Fanclub – Free Again (Live at Glastonbury 1993)

Ah, but we can’t leave it there, I’m afraid. See, bands do many a live cover version, and I’ve kind of made it my rule not to include them in this thread – the cover version has to have had a commercial release to qualify for posting here. I have standards, see.

Lucky for me then, that The Fannies released their version as a limited edition 7″ single back in 1992:

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Teenage Fanclub – Free Again

Many years ago, a drummer friend of mine asked me if I’d seen Top of the Pops the night before. I had, and he went on to moan about a band on that had been he thought sounded  derivative and bland. After much pressing, it turned out he was talking about this:

My skin-twatting buddy may have won the argument – for an argument there was, once we had established he was slagging off Teenage Fanclub – had he been able to name the band that he felt they were derivative of.

(It turned out that what had prompted this outburst was the fact that, at his request, I’d gone to see the band he played in doing a gig at the legendary Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff a few nights beforehand. Because he knew I was a bit of a music nerd, and had some experience of being in and booking bands -all of which is to come in the main thread of this blog, when I finally get my arse in gear to write it again, by the way – he had asked me to come along, watch them and then provide an honest opinion on them. He had approached me minutes after coming off stage, asked me what I thought; my critique began with the words: “Do you want me to be honest, or nice?” His displeasure at The Fannies TOTP appearance had been fuelled by the need to be told they were better than a band which was attaining commercial success; unlucky for him, he picked the wrong band to use as an example. His band split up about a week later. No need to thank me, all part of the service.)

We all know, of course, that the members of Teenage Fanclub love Big Star, and all fans of Teenage Fanclub love Big Star too, and frankly we don’t care if they sound like them – that’s (one of the many reasons) why we love them.

Free Again is not, however, a Big Star cover – it’s a track by Big Star mainstay Alex Chilton. His version is, I would say, a little more Gram Parsons than Big Star.

This, then, is his take:

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Alex Chilton – Free Again (Stereo Mix With Alternate Vocal)

So today’s lesson is: choose a cover version by one of your idols, but cover it in the style of the band he used to be in, rather than the style he recorded it in.

And as an added bonus, here’s Super Furry Animals (I don’t mention them enough)  from Glastonbury 2007 performing their single “Northern Lites” in the style of….well, I’ll let Gruff explain:

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Super Furry Animals – Northern Lites (Glastonbury 2007)

More soon.