Feb 202018
 
conversing with oceans

Who can forget the video of the haunting song “Wicked Game” from rockabilly Chris Isaak? The 1990 video with the slow-motion beach scenes won several awards, and “Wicked Game” got a big commercial boost as well from the David Lynch movie Wild at Heart. Many artists have covered this favorite about obsessive love; we’ve written about some at Cover Me. Conversing with Oceans gives it a go this time.

Conversing with Oceans is the solo project of Alex Bondarev, who moonlights as a dentist. After leaving Chechnya as a refugee, with a stop in India, Bondarev landed in the Bronx. His original music has a positive theme, perhaps a nod to his refugee state of mind. This indie artist has kept the ball moving forward by playing with friends, being at SXSW and working with John Forte from the Fugees. Continue reading »

Sep 222017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

In early 1965, nineteen-year-old Graham Gouldman – then playing guitar and singing with his Manchester, England band mates in the Mockingbirds – fortuitously connected with another fowl-named rock band. The London-based Yardbirds, barely two years formed, decided to record three of Gouldman’s compositions. By year’s end, “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” and “Evil Hearted You,” had all become smash hits and contributed immensely to the bands’ early success.

Our featured song, the second single released by the burgeoning supergroup, was the first with Jeff Beck on lead guitar. Beck, who replaced Eric Clapton over creative and other differences, was credited with introducing Indian/Eastern stylings to rock music with his sitar-inspired lead guitar work on the track. His fuzzbox sound on the signature melody line would become a Beck trademark and helped usher in the psychedelic rock sound of the ‘60s. These key ingredients, combined with Gouldman’s arrangement and lyrics, made “Heart Full of Soul” a top 10 hit for the Yardbirds on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching as high as number 2 in the UK.

The song has inspired over 50 verified covers, including a version the multi-talented Gouldman included on his second solo album, which we featured in our review of The Yardbirds’ Greatest Hits.

Here’s a look at five more varieties along with some additional notables…

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Feb 072017
 
Hula Hi-Fi

Many listeners’ knowledge of Hawaiian music begins and ends with Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (which, to be fair, deserves every play it gets). But on a new album, a new trio aims to change that by adapting a dozen familiar songs across decades into a new genre they call “Hawaiian noir.” Like David Lynch in Maui, they reinvent songs by Nirvana (“In Bloom”), The Cars (“Drive”), Radiohead (“Bulletproof…I Wish I Was”), Chris Isaak (“Wicked Game”), and more with ukuleles, lap steel, and harmonies.

Known as Hula Hi-Fi, the band is new but the players – Josh Kaler, Annie Clements and Sarah Bandy – are seasoned, having worked with the likes of Sugarland, Amos Lee, Butch Walker, and more in their respective careers. Their abilities show; these are carefully constructed productions, not tossed-off ukulele strum-alongs. Continue reading »

Mar 152016
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Chris-Isaak

Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” is one of those songs that seems to exist on their own plane of music. Released as a single in 1990, the track floated on its own hazy eddy, separate from the currents of both the ’80s that preceded it and the grunge sound of the early ’90s that came soon after. The song seemed more like a dream than anything else; a fevered hallucination, showing up unbidden in Isaak’s mind as some love he had no business having in the first place circles around and around.

The song was originally not all that popular as a single. It took two separate events to cement it as a classic: It was included in David Lynch‘s film Wild at Heart, and a second video (the first was directed by David Lynch for the Wild at Heart soundtrack) featuring the now-legendary black-and-white image of Helena Christensen rolling topless in the sands of Hawaii. An entire generation was captivated by the sexiness of the both the image and the song itself. The bleak look back at this relationship has an almost Gothic feel to it. The lyrics are steeped in a dark romanticism and the reverb and delay of the guitar make the listener feel unmoored from reality. It’s no wonder, then, that so many artists have felt the desire to cover it. There have been dozens of attempts, many of which have already been written about on Cover Me. This, then, is a look at some that haven’t examined yet.

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Aug 192013
 

There is no shortage of covers of Chris Isaak‘s 1989 hit “Wicked Game,” but that doesn’t mean we aren’t always excited when we hear a new one. During a recent trip to BBC’s Maida Vale studios, art rock trio London Grammar played some songs off their upcoming debut, If You Wait, and also delivered a stellar cover of the ballad. Continue reading »