52 albums – week 29

  1. The Man Who Sold the World: Nirvana – (David Bowie)
  2. Distant Sun: Brooke Fraser – (Neil Finn)
  3. Wagon Wheel: Old Crow Medicine Show – (Bob Dylan & OCMS)
  4. Cracklin’ Rosie: Shane McGowan – (Neil Diamond)
  5. Deuce: Lenny Kravitz – (Kiss)
  6. If I Only Knew: Tom Jones – (Rise Robot Rise)
  7. Romeo & Juliet: Indigo Girls – (Dire Straits)
  8. Weight: Michelle Shocked – (The Band)
  9. Into Temptation: Renee Geyer – (Neil Finn)
  10. Tomorrow Wendy: Andy Prieboy – (Andy Prieboy/Concrete Blonde)
  11. Not The Girl You Think You Are: Holly Throsby – (Neil Finn)
  12. He Got Game: Public Enemy (Buffalo Springfield sampled)
  13. Darkness, Darkness: Cowboy Junkies – (The Youngbloods)
  14. Stood Up: James Reyne – (John Hiatt)
  15. The Cross: Died Pretty – (Prince)
  16. Search & Destroy: E.M.F – (Iggy Pop)
  17. Seventeen Seconds: Cowboy Junkies – (The Cure)

There was always going to be an album of cover songs in here somewhere. I’d even picked a name for it way back at the start of the year;
I Wrote This
But as you can see that idea has morphed into an entire month of compilations as I was quickly seduced by the ease of banging songs together in little 800mb grab-bags.
Wanting other people’s voices in here too, I cajoled first the kids and then my wife into adding their voice choice to the archives.
This weeks selection however is what I’ve chosen.
Michael has well and truly trumped me by sending down all six volumes of Triple JJJ’s
Like A Version
but there is a subtle difference between the two concepts.
Like A Version is simply great. Triple J invites a guest(s) into the studio and they put down a cover of something close to their heart. The songs have been predominately acoustic, some faithful to the originals, some startlingly reworked but all i think a little bare (and that’s not a criticism) and a little stripped back. This is an unavoidable restraint of having to record in one take in a small studio as part of a radio program.
The songs on this weeks disc however have been lifted from commercially released records. This gives them the luxury of unlimited studio time, multi-tracking, multiple takes, a room full of band members (if required) or a live audience in the case of the Unplugged performance by Nirvana.
This could easily have been a double or even triple compilation but Sharon’s already bookmarked a few of my choices and really, I wouldn’t know when to stop if the computer didn’t tell me the disc was full.
If you wanted you could circumvent this restraint by dumping everything into iTunes,
all Thirty odd albums so far and just put your own mixed-up collection together.

The Man Who Sold The World.
Fifteen years old and it was all David Bowie. I did a “book review” for Mr Kim Allen on Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album (he was an indulgent English teacher).
Called my dog Bewlay after the song of the same name; so different to the rest of Hunky Dory. I’ve read that the song was an oblique reference to his brother, Terry but maybe not. I suspect after so long Mr Bowie doesn’t even know. I wondered too, if Kurt Cobain’s penchant for wearing dresses on stage was referenced from Bowie who was all over ‘drag’ around about this time? Anyway it’s a pretty standout version.
Distant Sun.

Just a lovely take on a beautiful song. She doesn’t try to change it or shape or bend it to any fashion. She just sings and lets it own light shine through.
Wagon Wheel.

According to myth (Wikipedia), this is a fragment of a tune discarded by Bob Dylan (an aside of an out-take of a bootleg, stolen from who knows where). The gaps were filled in by Ketch Secor of OCMS and it became a small hit. I like songs that take you from one place to another. Traveling songs that have a geography you can plot out on a map. We lived in British Columbia when I was a teenager. The provinces official flower was the Dogwood Blossom and I think “a bouquet of Dogwood Flowers” would be a fine gift to receive.
Cracklin’ Rosie.

was one of the earliest songs I remember liking as a child.
Then Hot August Night was released and it was just about the biggest album of the 70’s. You can still find vinyl copies in the Op-Shops which goes to show how many were sold. I like the name “Rosie”, Jackson Browne sings about her on Running On Empty, maybe it’s the same girl.

I never really liked Kiss. I found the music banal and the costumes ludicrous. The songs were trite and even as kitsch value I just never found it entertaining.
But Lenny Kravitz conjures up some magic and brings the Deuce to life. It came from a cover album called Kiss My Ass, which is a clever play on words but the title and this song is the only thing of value on it.
If I Only Knew.
What a start to a song. A short sharp scream, then Mister Jones throws his head back and unleashes this caterwaul that seems to run on forever. The combination of a powerful voice, a driving bass line and an infectious hook; “I think I’m going to dance now!”
Romeo & Juliet.

There are only two concerts I’ve fallen asleep at. The first was America at The Balmain Town Hall and the second was Dire Straits at The Entertainment Center. Now if it had been The Indigo Girls on stage, doing this version of Romeo and Juliet I would most definitely have stayed awake. Ain’t it grand! Emily and Amy seem to have a keen understanding of the angst of Teenage Love. It’s desperate stuff, this tragic tale and the Girls seem to grasp that intuitively.

She’s a perennial favorite Michelle Shocked. Always done things her way, shunning a commercial success that would have been hers merely for the asking. I was lucky enough to see her at the Enmore Theater backed by Paul Kelly’s Messengers. There was a real affinity and a mutual respect up there on that stage. A magical night and a consummate performance.
Into Temptation.

Another track lifted from She Will Have Her Way which is a superb compilation of Neil Finn covers, unique in that it is an entirely female revue. Renee Geyer is the very embodiment of the Blues Chanteuse. I’m sure most men never stray because they are never tested and boy am I glad that Renee’s life and mine will never cross paths.
Tomorrow Wendy.

I’ve bent the rules a little for this selection. Andy Prieboy wrote the song and it can be found in his Upon My Wicked Son album, Johnette Napolitano providing the additional vocals. She then covered it with his blessing for her band, Concrete Blonde (the Bloodletting album). Both renditions I like but probably sway a little towards Mr Prieboys so I’m including the original but with a nod to Johnette; His word play is just so clever:
… I told the priest, don’t count on any second coming.
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming.
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us.
No, I don’t wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us …
and this, further into the song, this just has me tipping the brim of my hat;
… Only God says jump,
So I set the time
‘Cause if he ever saw her
It was through these eyes of mine!
And if he ever suffered it was me who did his crying …

It’s a strange dichotomy isn’t it; an omnipotent god that can’t see, can’t feel, by extension can’t exist outside of this parasitic, co-dependence with us.
Not too far a concept from that in J.M.Barrie’s, famous children’s book:
“Do you believe in fairies? … If you believe,” he [Peter] shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.”.
Not The Girl You Think You Are.

I’m a sucker for a bit of an Australian accent in a song. Again this is from She Will Have Her Way. Maybe I just need to send the whole Album up.
He Got Game.

Public Enemy were hugely important. Albums like In Fear Of  A Black Planet and It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back were all persuasive when we were living in Chicago. What happened? I don’t know. It’s not my fight, not my skin. But their individual directions after disbanding the group are a long way from what you hear here. Strictly speaking this song is not a cover as they are only sampling a portion of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth but the riff is integral to the songs meter. The politically charged commentary that runs over the top of it, is in keeping with what was the quintessential 60’s protest song.
Darkness, Darkness.
If this was all the Cowboy Junkies had ever done it would be enough. Quite possibly their best.
Stood Up.

John Hiatt is telling much the same story as on the Katie Cruel track from week 24.
James Reyne gives us this version that I imagine John would approve of. I can picture this song as a familiar old friend in his live set.
The Cross.

I really should find out what the original sounds like. Though I’m pretty sure I would have Ron Peno’s voice in my ear as I listened to Prince. This is a big song but Died Pretty are up to it. You could close Madison Square Gardens with a number like this.
Search & Destroy.

E.M.F is apparently an acronym for “Epsom Mad Funkers” which according to Google were a New Order fan club. Hmm? I’d read somewhere that it was an abbreviation for Ecstasy Mother Fu…ers, well I’ll let you fill in the dots. The single that I have, comes with a little sticker that read “This Song fu…ing Rocks! – Iggy Pop” High praise indeed and you know what, it’s right. This song is a Runaway Train.
Seventeen Seconds.
Not long after David Bowie I was living and breathing The Cure. This song was the title track from their second album. The album that followed this was called Faith and it was the soundtrack of my life for 6 months. There have been a few covers of this song, not too many but The Cowboy Junkies version is my favorite. Margo Timmins understated vocals are as much about creating atmosphere as about the words and her brother Michael’s guitar work is everything else.
I think of it as a song for cold rooms.;
disquietening, unsettling, jarring.

I’m ‘On a roll, back soon.

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