Under the Radar: Sweep

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Apr 022020
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

SWEEP

Regular readers might not all be aware of erstwhile UK teatime favorites, the TV duo of Sooty and Sweep. Whilst the show limps on in several formats, time has not always been kind to Sweep, a roan cocker spaniel who first made his performing debut, astonishingly, as far back as 1957, and he has had to learn to adjust to the changing demands of a fickle audience. In the last year or so he has discovered a powerful and emotive singing voice: previously able only to vocalize in a fashion understandable to his close colleagues and family, he has learnt how to sing. Whilst this is not fully understood, this is perhaps akin to a stroke victim retaining or recouping the power of song ahead of the return of speech. and, although he can now speak, this famously first taking place on air in 2014, song still remains easier.

Sweep, always a keen musician anyway, through his longstanding membership of the Sooty Braden Showband between the late ’60s and early ’70s, has produced, to date, 186 videos, encompassing all genres and styles. These are usually solo acapella performances, he proving himself adept at maintaining rhythm with clapped hands and vocal beatbox effects, much in the style of Bobby McFerrin, with polyphony and multiphony.
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Feb 202020
 
graham norwood this womans work

Just from the title and photo alone, you already know too much. In a perfect world, the ideal way to hear San Francisco based singer-songwriter Graham Norwood’s stunning take on Kate Bush’s 1988 classic for the first time would be to close your eyes and hit play without any knowledge of Norwood’s name or what he looked like. Then after you were inevitably blown away by the performance you could open your eyes and enjoy the added surprise of of finding out Norwood was the performer. Continue reading »

Feb 132020
 
bat for lashes boys of summer

On her fall UK tour, Bat for Lashes unleashed a trio of ’80s covers, tackling Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night,” and Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.” Now a live recording of the latter forms the title track on a new EP. Continue reading »

Nov 282018
 
christine queens cover rihanna

We first encountered French pop superstar Christine and the Queens when she covered Kanye West’s “Heartless” with an unlikely twist: mixing in bits of 1973 French hit “Les Paradis Perdus.” Knowing that, it should be no surprise that the newly short-haired Christine doesn’t play her Rihanna cover for the BBC straight. Instead, throughout her powerful rendition of Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better,” she sprinkles in lines from Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” Continue reading »

Jul 312018
 
Arctic Monkeys – Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello cover)

Arctic Monkeys got a lot of attention covering the Strokes last week (especially because on his new album, Alex Turner sings: “I just want to be one of the Strokes”). But I preferred their wonderfully sleazy “Lipstick Vogue” cover, played in honor of Costello as he recovered from cancer surgery. Turner’s a product of his influences; in addition to the Strokes and Elvis, he appears to have his Nick Cave snake slither down cold. Continue reading »

Jul 192018
 
first aid kit kate bush

First Aid Kit’s own records have gotten progressively poppier in recent years, but their cover choices still stick with their winning formula: beautiful harmonies, an acoustic guitar, maybe a little subtle percussion – and did we mention the harmonies? We last heard them covering 20 different Leonard Cohen songs in a stunning tribute concert (oh, they did Lorde too for good measure), and now they’re back to tackle Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Continue reading »