..and finally. Covered In Glory Day 10: Thomas Dolby, The Unthanks, Little Roy, Deep Purple & Zoot

Richard:

Covered in Glory LogoI dropped a fairly clear hint to Andy in my day 8 posting that I thought he was going to post this, but he hasn’t thus far and this is my final choice, so here is ‘I Scare Myself’ by Thomas Dolby from ‘The Flat Earth’. Originally recorded by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. Looking back we haven’t had much 80s stuff  – the video is indeed very 80s, but the song itself has that Dolby production that makes his and Prefab Sprout’s recordings timeless. Anyway must get round to reading his biography which is sitting on my shelf on loan from Andy.

Some final choices from fellow bloggers below. Thanks to all who have taken part. It certainly seems to have been a popular topic! You can see all ten days of choices here.

Andy:

You’re preaching to the converted here, Richard! In a previous summer themed countdown I managed to sneak this in before you got chance, so I’m delighted that you haven’t been usurped this time! I’ve been playing the Golden Age of Wireless extended cd in my car a lot recently, in fact so much so that my kids really enjoy it, particularly the utterings of Magnus Pyke on “She Blinded Me with Science”.

Right, final selection for me. There were a couple of ones that I’d have liked to get in there which cropped up in my head as we’ve been working our way through the countdown – certainly The Stranglers version of “Walk on By” I rate very highly, especially having seen them perfom it live when I saw them in Cambridge over Easter.

However, I’ve plumped for probably my favourite King Crimson song, done by Northumbrian folk collective, The Unthanks, who produce a melancholy version which is totally different from the original, and just beautifully arranged. Music is at its best when it moves one to tears, and I listen to it now, that is exactly what has happened.

Gerard, even you haven’t heard this, I think it’s the kind of thing that you’d like. Let me know!

If you’ve got nothing better to do, here’s a live version of the original. Prog Rock at its finest!

Andy:

Like Andy, I had also considered The Stranglers’ Walk On By, however, in keeping with the aim to contribute maybe something new or at least unexpected, my final choice is another Beatles cover.
Apparently, Lennon did want this song (released just three years earlier) to be slower but the pressures for a faster paced commercial hit held sway and ultimately, ‘commerciality over art won out!’
The clip features the group’s original vocalist, Rod Evans.
The group? Deep Purple.
One of the video’s comments: … “hilarious seeing ‘Blackmore’ (arguably the greatest axe-man ever) trying to mime air guitar badly to his own solo” but that still doesn’t detract from a great version of ‘Help’

Roy:

There are plenty of opinions as to what constitutes a truly great cover version. My final choice completely encapsulates all that I believe a great cover version should be; unexpected and taking a relatively unheralded song to a whole different level. Little Roy (no relation) is a reggae icon with a legacy stretching back to the 60’s. In 2011 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Nevermind’ recorded an entire album of Nirvana covers with other reggae legends such as Junior Murvin ( ‘Police and Thieves’ ) and various members of the Wailers. The album is called ‘Battle for Seattle’ and is in its own right, a masterpiece. It was produced by Brighton based Prince Fatty, who is better known for his work with Hollie Cook ( ex- Slit and daughter of Pistol, Paul). Any track would have done but this is my favourite as it’s a lesser known Nirvana track taken to new heights.

Ian:

My final choice is also a Beatles cover (I did drop a big hint at Day 8). Growing up in Australia in the late 1960s & early 1970s, my overriding memory is of commercial radio playlists being dominated by bland covers of major international songs. While I knew Johnny Farnham’s “Raindrops keep falling on my head” was a cover (I did see the “Butch Cassidy…” movie) until late in life I didn’t realise that “In The Summertime” wasn’t an original track from the Melbourne band “The Mixtures”, nor that “Knock Knock Who’s There?” by Liv Maessen was not the version most of the world knew or that anyone else other than Aussie band Jigsaw had sung “Yellow River”. It turns out this was due to a commercial dispute between the record labels and the radio stations about royalties payment, but it ended up sidelining any significant development of Australian original singer/songwriter/bands until the mid 1970s. Through this period, there were a couple of exceptions that went on to dominate Australian music production in the 1970s and 1980s. Vanda and Young from the Easybeats are the most famous , but largely unheralded internationally is collection of performers from the band Zoot. The group included Rick Springfield (later famous for “Jessie’s Girl”), Beeb Birtles (who went on to form arguably Australia’s greatest yacht rock band Little River Band ), Daryl Cotton who had independent success as singer/songwriter/tv performer in Australia and worked in the USA with Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard and The Osmonds and Rick Brewer who had a later success with Aussie band the Ferrets. While they wrote many of their their own songs, their biggest success came from their rock-and-roll influenced cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. Nothing anodyne about this at all.

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11 thoughts on “..and finally. Covered In Glory Day 10: Thomas Dolby, The Unthanks, Little Roy, Deep Purple & Zoot

  1. You’re preaching to the converted here, Richard! In a previous summer themed countdown I managed to sneak this in before you got chance, so I’m delighted that you haven’t been usurped this time! I’ve been playing the Golden Age of Wireless extended cd in my car a lot recently, in fact so much so that my kids really enjoy it, particularly the utterings of Magnus Pyke on “She Blinded Me with Science”.

    Right, final selection for me. There were a couple of ones that I’d have liked to get in there which cropped up in my head as we’ve been working our way through the countdown – certainly The Stranglers version of “Walk on By” I rate very highly, especially having seen them perfom it live when I saw them in Cambridge over Easter.

    However, I’ve plumped for probably my favourite King Crimson song, done by Northumbrian folk collective, The Unthanks, who produce a melancholy version which is totally different from the original, and just beautifully arranged. Music is at its best when it moves one to tears, and I listen to it now, that is exactly what has happened.

    Gerard, even you haven’t heard this, I think it’s the kind of thing that you’d like. Let me know!

    If you’ve got nothing better to do, here’s a live version of the original. Prog Rock at its finest!

    1. Andy, indeed I had never heard this before. Much as I admire the original – and thank you for this and introducing another King Crimson delight away from ‘In The Court …’ – this cover version is brilliant.

  2. It is Dolby’s great misfortune in Australia, he is really only known for the his song “She Blinded Me With Science”. Like the Buggles, similarly known for one song, the common perception misses his (and equally Trevor Horn’s) depth as songwriters and producers. It probably wasn’t helped that distances to the Antipodes meant that Dolby didn’t tour here that often in his prime – I never saw him live but those who did were enthusiastic about his shows. If you’re interested, there is a great profile from doublej (the digital- only sister station to national youth radio network triplej) at http://doublej.net.au/news/features/theres-much-more-to-thomas-dolby-than-that-one-song

    1. Actually the situation in the UK is not massively different, it’s what he will always be know for, despite having 4 or 5 other minor hits. I have an idea for a book called ‘Loving the Albatross’ which would basically interview different musicians about how they deal with having one massive hit that is not typical of the rest of their work but dominates public perception. Thomas Dolby would definitely be on that list. Damon Albarn has said that when in the US if he told people he was in Blur people would look blankly at him, so he would sing ‘Woo hoo’ and they would immediately know Song 2, their only US hit played at every sports arena to celebrate a hone run or touchdown. Actually my favourite Buggles song is Elstree.

  3. There are plenty of opinions as to what constitutes a truly great cover version. My final choice completely encapsulates all that I believe a great cover version should be; unexpected and taking a relatively unheralded song to a whole different level. Little Roy (no relation) is a reggae icon with a legacy stretching back to the 60’s. In 2011 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Nevermind’ recorded an entire album of Nirvana covers with other reggae legends such as Junior Murvin ( ‘Police and Thieves’ ) and various members of the Wailers. The album is called ‘Battle for Seattle’ and is in its own right, a masterpiece. It was produced by Brighton based Prince Fatty, who is better known for his work with Hollie Cook ( ex- Slit and daughter of Pistol, Paul). Any track would have done but this is my favourite as it’s a lesser known Nirvana track taken to new heights.

  4. Like Andy, I had also considered The Stranglers’ Walk On By, however, in keeping with the aim to contribute maybe something new or at least unexpected, my final choice is another Beatles cover.
    Apparently, Lennon did want this song (released just three years earlier) to be slower but the pressures for a faster paced commercial hit held sway and ultimately, ‘commerciality over art won out!’
    The clip features the group’s original vocalist, Rod Evans.
    The group? Deep Purple.
    One of the video’s comments: … “hilarious seeing ‘Blackmore’ (arguably the greatest axe-man ever) trying to mime air guitar badly to his own solo” but that still doesn’t detract from a great version of ‘Help’

    1. This is great. Just the right amount of both The Beatles and Deep Purple (I can just imagine the noodling at the end running for a 10 minute jam live in concert). Somewhat ironically, having posted what I think is the best Aussie Beatles cover ever as #1, I can also say that the worst ever cover of a Beatles I have *ever* heard is the version of “Help” performed by John Farnham (who was mentioned in today’s despatch). I dare not include the link it’s that bad, but you can easily find it online if you feel so inclined to see someone murder a great song.

  5. My final choice is also a Beatles cover (I did drop a big hint at Day 8). Growing up in Australia in the late 1960s & early 1970s, my overriding memory is of commercial radio playlists being dominated by bland covers of major international songs. While I knew Johnny Farnham’s “Raindrops keep falling on my head” was a cover (I did see the “Butch Cassidy…” movie) until late in life I didn’t realise that “In The Summertime” wasn’t an original track from the Melbourne band “The Mixtures”, nor that “Knock Knock Who’s There?” by Liv Maessen was not the version most of the world knew or that anyone else other than Aussie band Jigsaw had sung “Yellow River”. It turns out this was due to a commercial dispute between the record labels and the radio stations about royalties payment, but it ended up sidelining any significant development of Australian original singer/songwriter/bands until the mid 1970s. Through this period, there were a couple of exceptions that went on to dominate Australian music production in the 1970s and 1980s. Vanda and Young from the Easybeats are the most famous , but largely unheralded internationally is collection of performers from the band Zoot. The group included Rick Springfield (later famous for “Jessie’s Girl”), Beeb Birtles (who went on to form arguably Australia’s greatest yacht rock band Little River Band ), Daryl Cotton who had independent success as singer/songwriter/tv performer in Australia and worked in the USA with Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard and The Osmonds and Rick Brewer who had a later success with Aussie band the Ferrets. While they wrote many of their their own songs, their biggest success came from their rock-and-roll influenced cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. Nothing anodyne about this at all.

  6. Although I’m not a big Beatles fan – definitely my favourite song of theirs along with Paperback Writer. Unsurprisingly I’ve never heard this but nice version. There is also a brilliant version by noughties metal band Thrice, which is well worth checking out.

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