100 best covers: #78 Codeine Velvet Club “I am the resurrection”

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Just over a week ago, on May 2, an album that many consider one of the greatest, if not the greatest debut album ever, The Stone Roses’ self-titled album, celebrated its 30th anniversary. The final track on the original UK release of that album was this dance floor freak out, encapsulated in an epic, eight plus minutes called, “I am the resurrection”. It was steady and funky drumming by Reni, a muscular bass line by Mani, John Squire’s beautiful guitar wankery, and a young Ian Brown brashly invoking New Testament messiah imagery to talk about relationships and the breakups thereof. And then, halfway through the song, Squire takes over and leads the rest of the players through a four minute guitar outro. The album and this song was the template for the psych rock and acid house fusion that was the baggy/Madchester scene.

Almost twenty years later, Jon Lawler decided he needed a creative change from his full-time gig as frontman for The Fratellis. Thus, he formed a side-project with vocalist/keyboard player Lou Hickey called Codeine Velvet Club and put out one self-titled album of retro sixties leaning indie pop before breaking up a couple years later. There was a bonus track on that one album and it was a lounge-flavoured cover of The Stone Roses’ “I am the resurrection” that we never knew we needed.

Where The Stone Roses are still very much revered 30 years later around the world, I feel that Codeine Velvet Club (and possibly The Fratellis) are largely forgotten or ignored outside of England only ten years later. And yet, I do love both versions of this song. I mean, you can’t touch the original for its sheer majesty and near perfection but the gall and cheek of the cover make it a worthwhile go as well.

How do you improve upon a perfect song? More horns and Mike Flowers!

(Haha. Sorry.)


The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Best tunes of 2011: #14 Elbow “With love”

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As a long time fan of British rock, I’ve always known there was a difference between the music scenes of Scotland, Ireland, and England and those here in North America. I had long imagined and romanticized that everyone over there listened to the same music I loved and other stuff I hadn’t yet heard because I knew that my favourite bands that I saw in tiny clubs in Toronto played to much larger crowds in much larger venues all over their native countries. However, my friends Tim and Mark, after spending a few years living and working in London shortly after the BritPop explosion, returned to Canada with news that most of the people they encountered listened to the same pop music consumed in North America. Still, they conceded, the radio played a lot of stuff that wasn’t played here and as we already knew, the press was very much different and more involved in exploring indie music.

I’ve gotten to learn more of these differences and similarities since starting in on this blogging gig almost eight years ago and in conversing with fellow bloggers from out that way. What hadn’t occurred to me but probably should have is that some of the bands I listen to that get little to no air play in Canada are so overplayed and overblown in England and as hated or ridiculed as Nickelback might be in some circles here.

And so it apparently is with Elbow, whom I love and have done since I happened upon them since the early 2000s. They’ve graced these pages a few times in the past couple years and comments have been decidedly mixed but leaning more towards the negative. I’ve had to forewarn a certain blogging colleague (I’m looking at you Vinyl Daft Dad) that another Elbow post was coming. But I think I can safely say this might be their last appearance for the foreseeable future.

“With love” is track three off the English rock band’s fifth album, “Build a rocket, boys!”. The album was less melancholy than its predecessors, mining the happier memories of youth for subject matter, but this one has frontman Guy Garvey pleading his case for a friend to join him on a night out for drinks. “I give my liver to see you, abide and ride shotgun. A Bacchian scandal awaits me, just can’t do it alone. Your sweetheart probably hates me, but I’ll send you home your dome filled up – with love.” To help Garvey in this Herculean effort, he’s got his bandmates chiming in with a heavy beat and bass accompaniment, ringing guitars and twinkling piano flourishes and encouraging handclaps. The devil has even enlisted the Hallé youth choir to add a big oomph at the chorus, an exclamation mark on the love!

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.

100 best covers: #79 Mumford And Sons “The boxer”

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Here’s one that might incite comments. Or maybe it’ll just incite vitriol. I usually finish these posts with the question of which you prefer, the cover or the original, but I’m pretty I sure I know the answer to this one already.

Mumford and Sons brought back the banjo in a big way in the late 2000s. It feels like the centre around which their platinum-selling debut album, “Sigh no more”, crowded, but really, they used a lot of non-traditional rock instruments to build their sound. I really liked the debut when I first heard it (still do, really) and because I don’t often listen to commercial radio, didn’t realize that it made them a household name until I saw a part of their set at Osheaga in 2013. Already by this time, though, the typical backlash that accompanies a meteoric rise had begun to set in. There really is a lot of hate out there for them. I’m not sure I completely understand it. However, I will say that with each successive album I’ve become more and more ambivalent, especially after they dispensed with their trademark sound on their third record and started to head down the vanilla pop road, hot on the trails of Coldplay.

They covered Simon & Garfunkel’s classic folk pop tune, “The boxer”, just before they remade themselves, and released it as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of their 2012 sophomore release, “Babel”. This is a tune I have known and loved since high school and can remember singing the words along with my classmates on the bus trip back from a particular weekend winter retreat. Though Simon & Garfunkel were usually on the quieter side of folk, this was a jauntier number and when I saw that Mumford had covered it, I thought I would enjoy it even before I had heard it.

The instrumentation is different but the feel is very much in the same vein, the banjo, resonator guitar, and even Marcus Mumford’s vocals lending the tune some uplifting sadness. And it is just as easy to sing along with on that “la la lie” chorus.

So though I won’t bother asking the question, I will say that at least Paul Simon must have approved of this cover, given that he appeared on it, along with resonator guitar legend Jerry Douglas.

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.