How to Do a Cover Version

I’m around a month early for posting something (else) about John Peel, but on yesterday’s The Chain post, Swiss Adam nominated and justified the inclusion of Dinosaur Jr’s “Freak Scene”, by mentioning their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, which in turn led me to this: a most out of character Thursday night post.

When The Cure’s version came out, I was just finding my feet in the world of what was then called Indie music, and they, like my other heroes of the time The Smiths, perfectly bridged that gap between chart music and a whole world which was becoming much more interesting and alluring.

For my money, The Cure were at their Indie pop best around that time, with some of their singles being the most chart-friendly songs they would release, but still managing to retain that quirky weirdness that had marked them out previously to people far wiser and on-the-ball than me.

tumblr_m8icleeghn1r72ouro1_1344559031_cover

The Cure – Just Like Heaven

By the time I first heard Dinosaur Jr’s version of “Just Like Heaven” they had already crossed my radar, for I’d seen the video for “Freak Scene” on BBC2’s weekday alternative music show “SNUB TV”, had dug a little deeper, and so I pretty much knew roughly what to expect.

“SNUB TV”, which seemed to kind of morph into “Rapido” before our very eyes,  was essential viewing for me and a few of my mates during my first two terms at college, when we were all living on campus in the halls or residence. I was the only one who had a colour TV, and we would all pile into my box-room and fight for a bit of arse-space on my single bed to watch it. (It was the most action my bed ever saw.) For the year or so that it aired, “SNUB TV” was one of my two main sources for discovering new music.

The other was of course John Peel.

Demi-God that he was to us, Peel also had a bit of a reputation for accidentally playing songs at the wrong speed, to such an extent that there was a posthumous compilation album featuring some of his favourite tracks entitled “John Peel – Right Time Wrong Speed”. It was this that just made him all the more endearing, I think.

It was on one of his shows that I first heard Dinosaur Jr.’s version, my ears perking up as he announced it. But it was not the speed of the record which perplexed him on this occasion – it was the brevity of it, and specifically, the way it unexpectedly crashes to an end. The record was followed by about ten seconds of dead air, followed by Peel emitting one of those little snorts he used to do when embarrased or amused, and saying something along the lines of “Well, that finished rather abruptly”.

He has a point. When I started DJing, I used to love playing this version, because I coud sense the crowd expecting me to make the same mistake and mess it up. But I would already have the next tune ready and cued, my finger hovering over the Start button on the Technics decks, ready to kick in the next tune at exactly the right moment, in exactly the way that Peel had so bumblingly not managed to do.

And everytime I timed it right, I’d hear Peel’s voice saying “Well, that finished rather abruptly”. And I still do everytime I hear it now, almost thirty years later.

dinosaur-jr-just-like-heaven-smith-gallup-thompson-williams-tolhurst

Dinosaur Jr. – Just Like Heaven

Well, that finished rather abruptly.

Cheers, John.

More soon.

The Chain #21

Well, it seems to be Wednesday evening again, and that can only mean one thing: I must remember to put my bins out. Oh, and host this week’s edition of The Chain.

You’ll recall we ended last week with The Cure’s “In Between Days”, and I invited you good folks to come up with songs which you can link to that record. The aim is, of course, in no particular order a) to showboat a little in your logic and song selection; b) to pick something which will cause a little debate in the Comments, be it about how great or how awful your choice is (never forgetting that, here, there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure, hence recent inclusions from Busted, Chesney Hawkes, and PJ & Duncan, and you’re not necessarily saying that you like your own suggestion anyway), and c) trying to guess what the next record in the official BBC The Chain series, as featured originally on Radcliffe & Maconie’s Radio 2 show, which now airs on 6 Music.

After last week’s attempts to jiggle about with the running order, which frankly left me dazed, confused, and worried that I’d missed somebody out, I’m settling for an easy life this week, and resorting back to the tried and tested method of simply posting the suggestions as they were received.

So, first out of the traps this week was Rol from the My Top Ten blog, who was noticeable in his absence last week:

“Because I missed last week’s I thought I’d get in early this week… but now I’m spoilt for choice?

The Go-Betweens?

Inbetweener by Sleeper?

Torn Between Two Lovers?

Between The Wars?

Between My Legs by Rufus W.?

Walk Between The Raindrops?

All tempting, but…

Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers, from their 2012 album Play For Today. It’s lovely, it starts with a nice bit of a brass, and they’re about to release their third album any day now.

That’s my suggestion for this week.”

Now, I normally have a bit of a moan about being snowed under with suggestions, about how I might have to cap the amount of suggestions per person (I hope you all note that I’ve still not enforced that rule) but since Rol had mentioned so many potential links, and as he hadn’t proffered anything last week, I figured I’d be magnanimous and ask if he wanted to nominate a second. But there was no swaying him. Fair enough.

Here’s Ultrasound then:

500x500

Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers

Be terrible if any of those Rol elected not to formally submit as a suggestion turned out to be the right one, wouldn’t it? (That’s my way of injecting a little suspense into proceedings).

Next up, here’s The Great Gog:

“In between days comes night. For some reason at this point Steely Dan’s “Night By Night” sprang to mind, and that’s a bit of an ear-worm of mine, so the rest of you can have a listen, too.”

Thanks GG, will do!

pretzel_logic_1392722073_crop_560x550_0

Steely Dan – Night By Night

The next couple of suggestions I received were from babylotti:

“I’m going to link to ‘Days’, by The Kinks.”

Now that, I would suggest, is the complete opposite of Comment Showboating.

So here’s a factoid to make up for it: when Days was originally released, both the single sleeve and record label referred to the title as being “Day’s”:

days_the_kinks_single_-_cover_art

The Kinks – Days

See?

But wait! I stand corrected! Babylotti isn’t done yet:

“Ray Davies from the Kinks famously was seeing Chrissie Hynde for most of the 80s. Chrissie obviously being the mainstay of The Pretenders and I shall nominate their song called Back on the Chain Gang…”

I can’t really resist posting that one, for what I would hope are fairly obvious reasons:

pretenders-back-on-the-chain-gang-sire

The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang

See that? That’s our theme tune, that is.

Time to welcome back the Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything now, who rather presciently says:

“Right this won’t be the answer but…”In Between Days” used to be my ringtone when Mrs B phoned me. About a month ago I replaced that with ‘Digeridoo’ by Aphex Twin.”

You’re not wrong, Badger: that’s not the right answer. But since my knowledge of Aphex Twin pretty much begins and ends with “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy” I’m more than happy to oblige:

tumblr_niq9m0qqsz1u6kttko1_1280

Aphex Twin – Digeridoo

Time was, having just posted a tune which predominantly features a didgeridoo, I’d be able to make a really bad “Can you tell what it is yet?” gag, but alas no more. That particular comedic avenue has ended up the same way as the Animal Hospital: closed.

“Or” Badger continues, “Robert Smith formed a Cure off shoot called The Glove. Which links back to Hand in Glove by The Smiths.”

Badger knows from previous posts that a very simple way to make sure I raise no objections to a suggestion – not that I ever would, unless there is absolutely no link back to the source record – is to nominate something by one of my favourite bands ever, about whom I would never make any crass comments.

So with that in mind, here’s a picture of a man’s arse:

the-smiths-hand-in-glove-rhino

The Smiths – Hand In Glove

You know that saying about how you have to wait ages for certain things to turn up – buses, or policemen, say – and then two turn up at once? Well add to that list “writers of the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog”.

Or to put it another way, here’s SWC:

“The follow up single to In Between Days was Close to Me that featured on the album Head on the Door. The first two words of which is the name of a very fine Jesus & Mary Chain track.”

This perplexed me at first, as I wasn’t aware of any Mary Chain single called “Close To”. But then the penny dropped, and such was my embarrassment at my own stupidity that I’m not going to get all pedantic and point out the album’s called The Head On the Door. And anyway, this is the first time we’ve featured one of their songs here on The Chain, so I’m not going to begrudge it. I mean, the words “Head” and “On” are still there, right?

r-789253-1158999383

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Head On

SWC isn’t done yet though. Oh no.

“Or if you want cheese. Lol Tolhurst was once in The Cure. Lol is an expression for laughing. As is LMFAO. And they are Sexy, and They Know It.”

sexy-and-i-know-it-single-1LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It

Often on The Chain, I have to go searching the corners of the internet to track down copies of some of the songs suggested. I wish this had been one of them. But no, tucked away in the darkest corner of my external hard-drive, there it nestled.

Let’s move on shall we? There’s nothing to see here.

Here’s George:

“Linking Cure to Medicine, and Medicine Head’s first single His Guiding Hand, a song that The Swede will surely approve of, and a song rated by John Peel as one of the finest songs ever recorded.”

Indeed he did; in 2005 there was a Channel 4 documentary entitled “John Peel’s Record Box”, which focussed on a small, private collection of 143 singles representing some of his personal favourites, which Peel stored in a private wooden box. (It should be noted at this point, that said box contained no records by his most beloved band, The Fall: he kept them in a separate box).

You can watch the whole documentary here:

Needless to say from George’s introduction, His Guiding Hand” was in there. As is Status Quo’s “Down Down”. Just sayin’.

tumblr_nmjszuqcwq1ra5ku0o1_500

Medicine Head – His Guiding Hand

Since we’re on the matter of John Peel, many of you will be aware that we’re fast approaching October 25th, the anniversary of his death, and a day where all those musically interested souls who owe such a debt to Peel try do something to honour his legacy. If you’d like to keep abreast of what events are going on, I’d recommend you a) visit the excellent Keeping It Peel blog, and b) follow @keepingitpeel on Twitter.

Anyway, I digress. Here comes Charity Chic, who decides to dip into that list of potential songs which Rol gave us right at the start:

“As Rol correctly points out there could be a link to Between the Wars by Billy Bragg…”

billy-bragg-between-the-wars-go-discs

Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

“…Kirsty MacColl brilliantly covered Days which babylotti mentions above. She also covered Billy Bragg’s New England so that would be nice”

 a-new-england-7-inch-front-cover-300x300

Kirsty MacColl – A New England

And you lot have clearly caught me in a good mood this week, because here’s a little extra treat for you. Lifted from one of those Radio 1 Live Lounge things (I think, I can’t actually remember where I got this from), but which as far as I know has never been commercially released (hence the less than pristeen sound quality and absence of a proper sleeve) is Kirsty and Billy performing an acoustic version:

318fcdfa09a2f7082c1d988134acaa63_395

Kirsty MacColl & Billy Bragg – A New England (acoustic)

Moving on, but not quite so swiftly as we did to escape LMFAO, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“The Cure’s Just Like Heaven was memorably covered by Dinosaur Jr. Whose own song “Freak Scene” is one of the best songs ever recorded.”

He’s right you know. It really is:

dinosaur_jr_-_freak_scene

Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who is definitely not a spy:

“If you feel unwell you probably want to find a Cure so will head Down To The Doctors where he/she will make you Feel Good again. Yes it’s Dr Feelgood with Down At The Doctors from me this week.”

dr-feelgood-down-at-the-doctors-united-artists-1

 Dr. Feelgood – Down At The Doctors

Heads up, George is back:

“I have a chain involving Tottenham Hotspur…”

Regular readers will now they’re my team, and Badger’s too, so in a week when we lost our opening game in the Champions League and then lost our main striker for an as yet undetermined period of time through injury, I was a little reluctant to invite George to expand on this.

I need not have worried:

“OK. Robert Smith of The Cure to Tottenham Hotspur footballer (of the 1960/1 double team) Bobby Smith. Tottenham Hotspur play at White Hart Lane (or used to) (Still do, mostly – Sports Ed), and Clay Hart was a country singer whose most famous song begins with these awesome lines “In a broken down apartment house lay a woman in labour…said by the grace of god I’ll have this child with the help of a neighbour”! Spring, by Clay Hart. Only in country music do you get such fabulous lyrics.”

And that, dear readers, is how to do Comment Showboating:

spring

Clay Hart – Spring

And that just leaves us with one suggestion, and this week that comes from The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“For my suggestion this week I’m going down the knob-twiddling route once again. David M. Allen co-produced a string of Cure albums, including ‘The Head on the Door’ from which ‘In Between Days’ is taken. Among Allen’s many other production credits is my favourite (and a criminally overlooked) Psychedelic Furs LP, ‘Book of Days’, from which I’ll choose ‘Torch’.”

You can’t beat a bit of know-twiddling in my book (innuendo very much intended), and it’s the type of link that doesn’t appear often enough here.

Anyway, here’s The Psychedelic Furs

furs

The Psychedelic Furs – Torch

And that concludes all of your suggestions for another week and I’m afraid none of you guessed what the record was in The (official) Chain. But before I reveal all, here’s my two suggestions, and I went down the same route as Alyson and George (with his first suggestion) did, going from The Cure to another word for a cure being a remedy, which led first to this, where Keith and the boys have got not just the poison, but the remedy too, which is one of those Good News/Bad News scenarios:

the-prodigy-poison-88807

The Prodigy – Poison

…which in turn led me to…(don’t worry, I’m not about to go all “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or “Unskinny Bop” on you. They can keep for another day)…this:

the-black-crowes-remedy-edit-def-american

The Black Crowes – Remedy

Literally not heard that in years, and bloody great it still sounds too.

And so, to the official record and Rol, you are going to kick yourself, as are you CC for picking out the wrong one from his list of semi-suggestions. For the next record in the BBC Chain was chosen following this suggestion:

“… From ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Inbetween-er’…”

Ah well, never mind chaps, eh?

sleeperinbetweener61910

21. Sleeper – Inbetweener

And that’s that for another week. So please submit your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, along with your reasoning for the connection, via the Comments section down below.

I’ve got one already, unless one of you lot go and nick it first.

See you next week!

(More soon).

Friday Night Music Club

…and we’re back in the room.

I thought we might all need a little something to shake us out of our post-Christmas, post-New Year, post-Hogmanay fug, so we’re going L-O-U-D this week.

First up, a band who to my mind have never quite fulfilled their early promise. This though is a belter, given an extra boost with a truly awesome Erol Alkan remix:

Interpol_Mammoth_Cover

61. Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

That includes the kind of slightly-longer-than-you-were-expecting breakdown guaranteed to cause dancers to stop and stare quizzically in the direction of the decks whilst the DJ frantically tries to work out if the PA system has conked out or not.

Next: don’t fret, this isn’t a theme starting:

TI-ELEPHANT-800px_800

62. Tame Impala – Elephant

A much over-looked band and album next, over-looked that is until the next track featured in a recent advert for Virgin Holidays:

MI0003025404

63. El Goodo – Feel So Fine

Touch of the Super Furries about that sleeve, and that’s not where the similarities end. Also hailing from South Wales, the album was mixed by Cian Ciaran, and in fact Super Furries had them opening for them on several UK dates back in 2005. If you’re looking for something to fill the void whilst you wait in hope for some new Super Furries material, you could do a lot worse than invest in a copy of their “Coyote” album.

Now, as a bridge to cranking the volume up some more, a band renowned for their loud-quiet-loud sound, so much so that the documentary made about them bore the same name.

pixies-surferrosa-gal

64. Pixies – Bone Machine

Not one of their louder efforts, to be fair, but it’s my old mate Llyr’s favourite track by them, and every time I hear it I think of him, so I don’t need any other excuse to post this one.

Because if you want loud, well here you go:

bug

65. Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Back in the late 1980s, when I was at college, BBC2 used to have a half-hour alternative music show called SNUB TV, which aired around seven in the evening, so round about the time I would have been getting out of bed. Such was the case when this came on:

Blimey, that takes me back. Such was the impact of that single that I insisted on us playing it in the band I was in during my time at college. But more of that some other time.

Keeping things loud and kool:

sonic-youth-kool-thing-lp-version-david-geffen-company

66. Sonic Youth – Kool Thing

Kim Gordon: if not the coolest, then definitely in the top 5, coolest women in rock ever. Factoid.

And for the final two, just loud and utterly wonderful:

71O0LJQTb8L__SL1280_

67. My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise

At least one of my regular readers will not be clicking that link, so much does they hate that one. Totally unfounded. If the Interpol remix had a wonderful breakdown, then this has the opposite, a climactic repetitive thrashing of guitars which goes on and on and on as a bridge until the tune, such as it is kicks in again. I haven’t made that sound anywhere near as hypnotically ear-bleedingly wonderful as that is.

And to finish things off, a cautionary tale of talking to drunken bar flies:

senseless_things_homophobicasshole-800x800

68. Senseless Things – Homophobic Asshole

More soon.