Vinyl love: Various Artists “Caught beneath the landslide”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Various Artists
Album Title: Caught beneath the landslide
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, ‘Indies only’, double LP, clear

The skinny: Not counting film soundtracks, I only have three compilations on my record shelves* and that’s already three more than I ever thought I’d ever have when I first starting collecting vinyl. This particular compilation didn’t jump out at me when I first started seeing it pop up in my mailing lists from the various record vendors I’ve frequented over the years… that is, until I happened upon the track listing. And then, the salivation started in earnest. You see, I’ve always had a soft spot for Britpop and those years in the mid-90s when everything coming out of England was golden (or fool’s golden). “Caught beneath the landslide” was put together as companion piece to a photobook by former NME photographer Kevin Cummins that shared some of his iconic snaps from the era. The tracklist features a who’s who of those artists associated with the Britpop term but instead of the obvious picks by each, it collects together alternate versions, remixes, b-sides, covers, and rarites. I opted for the ‘Indie only’ version in clear vinyl because… clear vinyl. And this particular sucker for Britpop, loves everything about it.

Standout track: “Ciao!” by Lush with Jarvis Cocker

*The other two are the Frightened Rabbit tribute compilation “Tiny changes” and the very excellent, “Warchild – Help album”, another Britpop heavy record.


100 best covers: #53 Suede “Shipbuilding”

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I’ve already written bits about the Help Warchild album a couple of times for this series. Songs from this, my favourite ever compilation, have already appeared at number 100 and number 74 on this list and here we are again, this time with Suede’s cover of Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding”.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea this was a cover. Given how quickly the Help album was recorded and released*, the CD copy of the compilation that I purchased used from Penguin Music the year after its release had almost nothing in the way of liner and production notes. I was also still something of a newbie when it came to Suede. I had obviously heard of them, their eponymously titled glam rock debut, and had fallen hard for “My insatiable one” off the “So I married an axe murderer” soundtrack, as well as the “We are the pigs” single off their sophomore release “Dog man star”. Still, I was a few months shy of the full on love affair with their third record, “Coming up”.

I only discovered the original when I finally decided it was time to explore the work of Elvis Costello a decade or so later. It appeared on a Best Of compilation that I tracked down and recognized it immediately as track eight from Warchild. The music was originally written by Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt but unhappy with his own lyrics, he approached Costello to refine them. The song was a reaction to the Falklands war and played on the irony that shipbuilding towns would see a modicum of resurgence while its fighting age sons would be sent off to fight and perhaps die.

Costello’s original is a hip and jazzy number, emboldened by a trumpet solo by Chet Baker. The musicianship is tremendous and you can’t argue with those phenomenal lyrics** but there is something just a bit more suave and swank about Brett Anderson, no? In his and Suede’s hands, it’s a bit more of a rock ballad, heavy on the bass and the piano, and though the trumpet still appears, it’s more muted.

Yeah, I dig Elvis Costello. But I love Suede. I’m going with the cover here.


The original:

*All within eight days!!!

**Elvis Costello himself has said that these were some of the best lyrics he had ever written

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


100 best covers: #54 Gene “Town called Malice”

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During my fourth year at York University, there was a professor’s strike that stretched from March until May, putting a number of students’ academic years and graduation plans at risk. I was on a five year plan in a four year program, so it was no issue to me in that sense. Really, it just lengthened my year some. However, it did have the added benefit of lulling me into boredom in early spring and got me out searching for a summer job earlier than I would’ve done otherwise. I ended up finding a position in a tool rental shop, a job that I surprisingly fell in love with, that kept me gainfully employed for the remainder of my university studies, and turned into my first post-graduation full-time job.

I was trained by a guy named Angelo that was probably a few years older than myself but spending quite a bit of time together in the store, we grew into a sort of friendship. He also really liked music and though he favoured what I considered to be classic rock, he was always very open to different sounds and exploring new bands. In fact, he always open to all sorts of new ideas and new experiences and we had a lot of great conversations. We have obviously lost touch, since I left the tool rental company and Toronto over two decades ago, but I still have the copy of “The very best of The Jam” CD he purchased for my birthday on behalf of him and our other co-worker, Marco.

We must’ve talked about the British punk-rock trio at some point during that summer of 1997 but I’m sure I wasn’t able to contribute much at the time, perhaps just that Paul Weller was their lead singer and that my friend Andrew Rodriguez was a big fan. The gift* was super appreciated, though, and I spent quite a bit of time with the disc that fall, becoming a convert of the group in the process. So a couple of years later when a tribute album called “Fire & skill” was released, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it featured covers by a bunch of Britpop survivors, like Reef, Heavy Stereo, a song by each of Oasis’s Gallagher brothers (Liam working with Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock), and Gene.

Long time fans and influenced by The Jam, Gene chose for their entry on this compilation a faithful cover of “Town called malice”, which, incidentally, was one of the few songs I knew of The Jam before hearing the aforementioned compilation. The original appeared on The Jam’s sixth and final studio album, “The gift”, and is three minute northern soul groove wrapped around Paul Weller’s teenaged kicks around his hometown and man, does that rhythm section get you dancing. The cover is slightly fuller sounding, with raunchier guitars, and it’s fun, Martin Rossiter’s vocals always sounding a bit on the side of Morrissey and has you wondering what The Smiths might have done with this song. And though with the extended moments and cleaner production, it doesn’t quite feel as immediate and as honest as the original, it’s still great.

Indeed, I like both versions a lot (and don’t get me wrong, I do love me some Gene) but I’m going with The Jam on this battle.


The original:

*Pardon the pun

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