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.
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.
Ever the trouper, Sweep has responded to these trying and difficult times we are all facing with this cover redux of The Knack hit “My Sharona,” entitled “Why Corona?” At great personal effort (and sounding, at times, strangely like HRH Queen Elizabeth II), Sweep even manages a short spoken introduction.
Before anybody feels this a bargain basement spoof of a sub-Weird Al phenotype , I should add this is Sweep’s first step into revisioning a song, his earlier works being very more faithful to the originals, if with the idiosyncrasy of his unique vocal timbre. I therefore offer up some back catalog highlights.
Sweep – Jammin’ (Bob Marley cover)
Sweep – Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush cover)
Sweep – Starman (David Bowie cover)
Sweep – Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode cover)
Sweep – Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns’N’Roses cover)
Sweep – Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover)
Sweep – Hurt (Christina Aguilera cover)
Further Sweep covers can be accessed here.