Allowing for all the various contributions, we are about 50 cover versions into our marathon with just one day to go and I have to confess I am stunned that ‘It Must Be Love’ has not appeared thus far. It was one of the first entries on my long list but I thought the odds of someone else not posting it first were as long as Iceland drawing with Argentina. So here it is.
I am going to put my cards on the table and say that I think this ranks as the greatest cover version of all time. Labi Siffre’s version is utterly gorgeous as well. Madness don’t ‘improve’ ‘It Must Be Love’, it’s perfect already. They just make it absolutely their own.
If we ever emerge from the dark times we were going through and decide to rejoin the rest of the World, making this the national anthem would be an important statement of intent. Please now stand for ‘It Must Be Love’.
Great choice but not one I’d ever have thought of!
My penultimate song is another which is bound to cause certain people to froth at the mouth! For many, this is the ultimate tune from the rock/classical crossover outfit that is the Electric Light Orchestra. I’ve got nothing against the original, but a bit like yesterday’s selection “Wonderwall”, I’ve just heard it so many times, it’s refreshing when you hear a different one. Emma Pollock, the lead singer’s voice I could listen to forever, so syrupy it just slips effortlessly down your ears!
It is almost law-like requirement in most guitar shops that customers must not play either “Stairway to Heaven” or “Smoke on the Water” when testing the instruments. This is invariably because there is little that is done by amateurs that brings anything original to the songs. In the late 1980s, Andrew Denton, a well known Australian television producer and comedian, challenged this precept by including in his weekly talk show “The Money or the Gun”, a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” performed in a wide range of musical styles. The guest artists included versions of the Led Zeppelin song as a Beatles cover, a funk cover, a B-52’s “Rock Lobster” cover as well as gospel and reggae versions. The collection of songs were eventually released as an album, with 22 different versions of the song on the CD. Given the fall from grace of the artist since the time of the show, it is perhaps a challenge to nominate the version by Rolf Harris as the defining version of this set of covers. However, with the possible exception of Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, it is hard to find another example of how one song could change someone’s career so dramatically. This single was instrumental in Rolf’s resurrection into contemporary culture, bringing a brand new audience to his music, opportunities on television that eventually led to him painting a portrait of the Queen, being awarded a CBE and getting a top 10 song on the UK pop charts. The fall from grace has been particularly marked since this tune caused his heady ascent into society.
There’s no available video online (that I could find) of the original performance on the “Money or the Gun” so here is the “Top of the Pops” version.
The coda to this is that a few years later, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page covered Rolf Harris’ song “Sun Arise” on another episode of Denton’s talk show.