Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Camel and some Wolfmen

I'm a bit of a student of the cover song. I've collected about 40 CDs' worth of covers I "just have to have for that perfect moment" (which may be in 5-10 years). What makes a cover version so compelling I must add it to my library? Some possibilities:

1. It reinvents the original in a new and interesting way. Good examples are Devo's rendition of the Rolling Stones "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)" or Nouvelle Vague's peppy version of the Violent Femmes "Blister In The Sun."

2. It offers a sonic upgrade on the original. Def Leppard did an admirable job of this with the T. Rex classic "20th Century Boy" recently.

3. It reveals emotional depths of a song, possibly untapped before. Like what Grant-Lee Phillips did with the Psychedelic Furs "Love My Way."

Today's happy find touches on all three, to some degree. Here's the original weirdly humurous and somewhat mystical Brian Eno song from his 1974 album Here Come The Warm Jets (with amusing camel photo to ponder while you listen to the lyrics).

And here's the propulsively played cover by UK's The Wolfmen (featuring two members of the late 70's Siouxsie & The Banshees[!]) from 2008:

The latter one certainly doesn't replace the original. Eno was (and is) brilliant and this song is clear evidence of that. But the cover, as I recently came across it in Little Steven's "Coolest Songs In The World" series (at Vol. 8 and counting)brought it back into my awareness. And for that, I'm grateful.

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