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…..