How to Do a Cover Version

As I’ve previously mentioned, whenever I used to venture into town as a kid, my time would mostly be spent meticulously working my way through the racks of the second hand records section in the basement of Andy’s Records, and it was there that I remember first encountering today’s choice.

There was something about the sleeve of The Slits’ “Cut” album which caught my eye, but which also prevented me from buying it for fear that the person behind the counter might think I was some kind  of a pervert.

Of course, I now know that I was missing out on one of the defining releases of the post-punk era. And the original vinyl edition didn’t include today’s track, a glorious reinterpretation of a Motown classic, though it has subsequently cropped up on CD reissue, reissue, repackage versions:

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The Slits – I Heard It Through the Grapevine

I mention this today because it’s another Field Day moment; at some point, either in the pre-Avalanches DJ slot or more probably in the actual Avalanches set (I’m leaning more towards the latter, but I’d had quite a few beers by this point, so the memory is a tad on the fuzzy side) this got dropped.

You know those moments when a DJ kinda slips something in, when you hear little bits of the next track just bubbling through and your ears prick up? That’s what happened here. I was talking to my friend Llyr about who knows what when suddenly I caught a snatch of the bassline and my sub-conscious whispered “Here come The Slits” to me.

Hence Llyr’s confused look when, mid-conversation, I suddenly said “Oh my God, they’re playing The Slits!”, just a nano-second before the previous song was faded out and the throbbing – there’s no other word for it, it throbs – bassline kicked in.

So, anyways, here’s the original:

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Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

I could, of course, waffle on now about how this record got a new lease of life when it was used in an 80s ad campaign by Levi’s, an act which gave the world the musical genius that was Nick Kamen. (I’m hoping that you can sense the tone there. No?)

Well, here’s his first (of two, before our patience ran out) UK hit records, which was co-written by Madonna (who clearly knew it wasn’t good enough to release herself):

And here’s the advert that started it all:

Oh, and here’s the advert that rather finely sent it up:

So today’s lesson is this: cover a Marvin Gaye record, but make sure it’s utterly different to the original.

More soon.

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