If there is one thing that my regular readers will have figured out about me, it is that I am passionate about music. I like many different kinds of music, many genres and sub-genres, in fact you can name any style of music and I will immediately name a song from that style that I like. But I, and I am sure many of you, feel that there are certain songs that are so perfect, so completely brilliant in their original form, that to cover them would be a crime. Certain songs are brilliant any way you do them, but others do not deserve to be covered by anyone for any reason. Is this leading up to a rant? You bet it is.
I am sure the more perceptive among you will remember The Corrs? That bunch of 'talented' women who annoyed the bejeezus out of us all a few years back by imploring us to "go-ooh on, go-ooh on!! Leave me breathless!!", which sounds like an invite to strangle them, really, when you think about it. And I wanted to, every time that damn song came on. We-eeeelll... Andrea Corr, of said band, has gone and committed a crime against music. Not her first offence (she recently attempted John Lennon's #9 Dream). But she has done the unthinkable by recording a cover version of The Blue Nile's Tinseltown in the Rain, a song I love, a song which should not be performed by anyone other than The Blue Nile. She's taken a pristine classic from my halcyon days and raped it in a sharing-a-prison-cell-with-a-big-guy-called-Butch-McDick kind of way. She has turned it into such a generic Top 40-sounding steaming pile of sonic dung, it would be like Jimmy Cricket covering Thin Lizzy, or Lady Gaga attempting a Black Sabbath tune. Let me attempt to show you what I mean. Here's the original...
And, if you can bear to put yourself through the following nauseous agony that is this bastardised version, here's the silly Irish bint (not being anti-Irish, you understand. Just anti-silly bints that believe they can do justice to a song of such magnitude, whatever their ancestry).
See? It's this sort of self-deluded belief that you can sing absolutely any song handed to you and make it your own, this sort of X-Factor/American Idol-fueled blind-leading-the-blind I'm-an-artiste nonsense that leads people to do silly things. Like for example, the other day I was sitting in Costa coffee and I nearly lost it. I am sure I am not alone in being a person that picks up on whatever muzak is being played in restaurants and shops, and I simply do not know how other people manage to tune it out. Sometimes it's OK, I hear it and enjoy it if it's a good song, and sometimes I sing along. Other times I hear it and it is inoffensive and so I ignore it. But just occasionally what comes over the speakers make me splutter into my flat white and say "What the???"
Here's what I heard.
YOU DO NOT MESS WITH THIS SONG. It comes as no surprise to learn that Nouvelle Vague have also covered some other classics that should not suffer treatment like this, such as Road To Nowhere, Ca Plane Pour Moi and Blister In The Sun. This sort of stuff makes me want to attack singers with a potato masher.
Just this evening I came home and was told to listen to something, with the vague suggestion that I would perhaps like it. Now, I'm always cautious and wary when this scenario occurs, because all too often I am unmoved, but this was it. This was a cover of a song that should also remain un-messed about with.
Why, Mark, why? You are usually brilliant. You did such a good production job on the new DD album. Why this? Yes, we'd like to stop you.
Some cover versions are good, some are just OK. An example of this is Metallica's cover of Thin Lizzy's "Whisky In The Jar". It's alright, but the Thin Lizzy version (itself a cover of an old folk tune) is the best. It was unnecessary at best for Metallica to cover it. But it was the video, playing on TV the other day, that made me mad. It turned me into my Grandad, when he witnessed the video for Bad Manners' Walking In The Sunshine during which the drummer plus drum kit floating on a raft in the sea tip over to be engulfed by the crashing waves. Oooh, he was so mad. "That's a perfectly good drum kit! What a waste! Bah!etc."
The Metallica video shows the band playing in a small room in what appears to be some sort of student bedsit surrounded by scantily clad metalchick hoes, and eventually trashing the room, including the instruments. Trashing a room is one thing, but musical instruments is quite another. Firstly, musical instruments are expensive. "So what?" you say. "Metallica gots loadsa money. They can afford it, dude (or words to that effect). 'Tallica kicks assss!!"
That is scarcely the point. There are many struggling musicians out there who can barely afford to buy a new set of strings for their cheap-ass knockoff Strat copy or a new pair of sticks for their drumming who would have appreciated using those instruments. Besides which, smashing up your gear was cool in 1965 when Pete Townshend and Keith Moon did it. But that was because they (and this is the key point here) did it first! A band such as Metallica who are well-established and have been knocking around near 30 years do not need to increase their coolness quotient by smashing a drum kit or chucking a guitar through a window. Puh-leeze, guys, are you that devoid of new ideas? What's that you say? You are? Well, may as well give it up then. Call the record company and let them know - "Listen dudes, Hetfield here. Uh, we won't be in today - or ever." I tell ya what, if I'd made the piles of money you lot have made and couldn't think of an original idea, I'd make myself a pina colada and go sit out by the pool and play mahjongg. Sounds like a good idea to me. Think about it. Just sayin'. Hey Lars, James, dudes! Here's an original idea... why don't you cover a Lady Gaga tune. It'd sure as heck be better than Gaga herself singing.