I hear Michael wouldn’t be seen dead hanging around with this lot…

I watched some sad git attempt­ing to do a cov­er of For­eign­ers’ “Cold as Ice” on that appalling INXS thing the oth­er night – or at least the bit I saw before I flicked the remote Poor old Michael Hutchens must be rotat­ing on his belt.

I met him twice, once in Syd­ney in the very ear­ly eight­ies when he was play­ing some pub with the then unknown INXS, and once in Cause Cele­bre when he asked me to remove the offend­ing Kylie (his girl­friend at the time I think) album cov­er on the wall behind the DJ booth with a nail thru her head. Mr Per­ry, in the booth at the time, sim­ply spun it on the nail and smiled…

Cov­er ver­sions are a fun­ny thing; total­ly point­less or intrigu­ing with no mid­dle ground. I dis­cov­ered Richard Hell’s live remake of Allen Tou­s­saint’s “Cru­el Way To Go Down”, a song I love uncon­di­tion­al­ly in its orig­i­nal form, quite by acci­dent when I was down­load­ing “Love Comes in Spurts” from Emu­sic and grabbed it. Big fan of Richard Hell’s work, in any media but I’d not heard his stab at this. It was on, the sur­face, an odd mix, the angu­lar punk vs. the deliri­ous big pro­duc­tion of the orig­i­nal but it worked. Angu­lar metal­lic funk would, cour­tesy of the likes of the mighty Gang Of 4 (been play­ing the Dam­aged Goods EP a lot recent­ly – fuck me, “Armalite Rifle” is such a killer song) become the sound­track of much of the late sev­en­ties and ear­ly eight­ies and Hell was such a torch­bear­er for those that head­ed in that direc­tion, it made sense. Anoth­er one I found this week, on the iPod by ran­dom, was the live ver­sion of Bar­rett Strong’s “Mon­ey” by The Bea­t­les. I guess it’s off an Anthol­o­gy or some­thing and I’ve heard it a dozen times or more with­out lis­ten­ing prop­er­ly, but the head­phones give the song a focus. The Motown orig­i­nal is a jaun­ty thing that helped estab­lish the label; the ver­sion on With The Bea­t­les (my favourite Bea­t­les album) takes it to anoth­er lev­el, gives it a mean­ing it nev­er had before. But the live take is some­thing else alto­geth­er. The threat in the Lennon vocal is just plain vicious and implies, with men­ace, griev­ous bod­i­ly harm if he or she doesn’t hand over the cash. The Rolling Stones for all their car­toon satan­ic majesty in their day nev­er sound­ed this threat­en­ing. Ever…

The oth­er one I found a few days back was a delight­ful cov­er by The Mighty Dia­monds of The Chi-lites “Stoned Out of My Mind” which gave the chi-soul clas­sic a pleas­ant, but less ethe­re­al, Caribbean sheen – dun­no where or when it came from (it was just on the hard dri­ve) but it worked for me.

Despite the per­ceived dis­tance between the two, punk and funk always had a link­age. I remem­ber talk­ing with Ker­ry Buchanan about the joys of George Clin­ton back in 77 and it was nev­er far from the sur­face. The disco’s dead thing was more about the trav­es­ties of “Do You Think I’m Sexy” and Olivia New­ton John than black music per se….

I’m try­ing to push this back in the direc­tion of the punk / funk thang so I can men­tion my favourite records right now. The Juan Maclean album Less than Human has been a long time com­ing, and indeed, one of the tracks, the killer white boy p-funk work­out “Give Me Every Lit­tle Thing” has been around for sev­er­al years – but, worth the wait? Yep indeed. I’ve been play­ing the mutha over and over for the past two weeks. It feels like Clin­ton meets Neu meets the first PiL album meets a scalpel. Far more ordered but from the same camp is the Lind­strom remix of the LCD’s “Tribu­la­tions” which is giv­en a Moroder-ish twist that suits it per­fect­ly, remov­ing the cut’n’paste dis­coid feel of the orig­i­nal some­what and tak­ing it some­where into some­where into the Euro­pean hin­ter­land in the ear­ly eight­ies. There’s a Tiga mix too which is more elec­tro-by-num­bers so I guess it will be big on George

The oth­er tune I real­ly like this week has no name. Tomor­row­peo­ple’s unnamed demo hit me with­out warn­ing – as did Andrew’s last two demos. Sharp with­out try­ing too hard and a love­ly sub­tle sway­ing feel, almost an elec­tro shuf­fle. Make a record, bro…..

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