Feb 212024
 

Nouvelle Vague is back with a new collection titled Should I Stay or Should I Go? I’m going to hesitate in answering that question, as there is the one more demanding, about how this lot are still going. No offense intended, mind; back in the day, Nouvelle Vague’s bossa nova revisiting of punk and new wave songs was really something to behold, with both the novelty and the application well worthy of praise and merit. But now? I know a version has been touring, but I hadn’t appreciated they were still marketing something new, or, more to the point, new to them. So, is this a soft sophisticated samba swirl through the song cycles of Eilish and Swift, Sheeran and whoever else the young people adore? Ummmm, nope. This is a further trawl through the hallowed dusty halls of the last century. Or, more to the point, hoping the audiences who loved them near two decades ago will still love them now, and are still listening to their tired old record collections.

I needed to check out the rationale, hastening to the requisite website. The fact that one of the originators, Olivier Libaux, is now the late Olivier Libaux should be enough confirm him spinning gently, counterclockwise, in his grave. I am presuming his then co-conspirator Marc Collin is still at the helm, as the agenda is seemingly unchanged, setting up a set of chanteuses unfamiliar with the originals, ironically perhaps all the more available as time flits by. So why does it seem now to, largely, pall, where it once delighted? Follow me…..
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Jan 122024
 

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

“Hi. I got a tape I wanna play.”

David Byrne begins the concert film Stop Making Sense with those words. He then begins the show doing a solo acoustic “Psycho Killer,” backed only by a boombox rhythm track. It’s the capital letter of one incredible sentence of a film, and last year it stepped forward once again into America’s collective consciousness as the documentary’s anniversary rerelease swept Talking Heads into the spotlight one (more? last?) time.

“Psycho Killer” was the first song the band ever worked on – Byrne wrote the first verse, Chris Frantz the second, and Tina Weymouth came up with the bridge’s French lyrics. From small beginnings come great things; for all the success the band had afterward, this remains their signature track.
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Nov 302023
 
best cover songs
boygenius ft. Ye Vagabonds — The Parting Glass (Trad. cover)

Every year, Phoebe Bridgers releases a surprise cover around the holidays to benefit charity. This year, she brought in her boygenius bandmates as well as vocal group Ye Vagabonds to cover “The Parting Glass.” It’s a traditional Irish tune, but their version pays specific homage to Sinead O’Connor, who covered it in 2002. Sales benefit the Aisling Project, an after-school project working with children and young people growing up in a disadvantaged area of Dublin. The beneficiary was chosen by the estate of O’Connor, who died in July. Continue reading »

Nov 012022
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Duran Duran Thank You

With Duran Duran about to be indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what better time to re-examine Thank You, their eighth full-length offering, released in 1995 to a blaze of apathy. To be fair, it didn’t actually fare that badly in the charts, reaching the top 20 in both the UK and the US. The singles did less well, failing to make any stateside impression and only one of them bruising, just, their homeland top 20. The critics gave Thank You a fairly uniform hammering, with the legacy casting a long shadow over the rest of their career: Q magazine, in 2006, called it the worst record of all time, having had 11 years to make that considered opinion. At the time Rolling Stone described many of the selections as “stunningly wrong headed.” Ouch.

Today we’re thinking it about time this much derided potpourri of styles and statements had a good seeing to, via the retrospectroscope. I fully confess I had never listened to Thank You until researching this piece. So I got me a copy sent through, all of £3 plus p&p, which currently equates to about $3. Money well spent? Well, you know, actually, yes, it isn’t half as bad as I had been led to believe, and some of the tracks are really rather good. Of course, it is dated, but, by imagining myself back all those 27 years, I find myself heartily disagreeing with those snarky scribes from Q.

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Sep 012021
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.

the reflex covers

“The Reflex” was Duran Duran’s first single to top the American charts, in 1984, and remains one of their most-streamed tracks on Spotify. Despite all that, though, it hasn’t generated as many covers as you’d think. Covers database SecondHandSongs lists almost three times as many covers of “Hungry Like the Wolf.” And “Ordinary World.” And “A View to a Kill.” Continue reading »

Feb 062020
 
bad omens come undone

“Come Undone” wasn’t even supposed to be a Duran Duran song. Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and keyboardist Nick Rhodes were creating it for a potential outside project when singer Simon LeBon heard the song and started to write lyrics to the song pretty much immediately. The band were nearly done with their next album, but the song happened so quickly that they were able to squeeze it on to the release. It their last truly global hit to date. Continue reading »