We last encountered UK Afrobeat band Ibibio Sound Machine as part of the podcast I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats, which featured their cover of “Color in Your Cheeks.” Their new cover of “Heroes,” one of David Bowie’s most covered songs, goes in a very different direction than most of the many, many preceding versions.
It opens with loungey synths and soon it’s driven along by an unrecognizable bass line, keyboard horns and other unexpected sounds (is that a pan-flute?), and lead singer Eno Williams’ sultry delivery of the lyrics. In fact, it’s basically only those lyrics and Williams’ reasonable fidelity to the vocal melody that even tells you which song this is.
One, there’s one other thing: the backing vocals are pretty close to the original. But aside from these vocals, there’s very little to link the two songs. There is guitar here, some of which is drowning in effects, but it’s nothing like Robert Fripp’s famous part on the original. It’s a radical take on a very famous song and it works quite well.