100 best covers: #62 Kula Shaker “Hush”

<< #63    |    #61 >>

When I sat down to write this post, I was framing it as cover of a song by Deep Purple but then, I quickly learned that theirs was a cover as well. Indeed, the song was originally written by Joe South and was performed by his friend Billy Joe Royal in 1967, though Joe South himself recorded and released a version of it the following year. It is obviously a great tune. Royal’s original, as well as a cover the same year by Australian band, Somebody’s Image, the famed Deep Purple cover in 1968, and our feature today, the one by Kula Shaker in 1996, were all hits for their respective artists. You can’t argue with that.

You also can’t argue with that ear worm hook. The nonsensical lyrical line would be instantly recognizable to anyone: “Na na-na nah, na-na nah, na-na naaaah!” (If that doesn’t ring any bells, just press play on either of the embedded YouTube videos below.)

Billy Joe Royal’s original (as I just recently discovered) is a classic, soulful, rock tune, indicative of its time. It’s got plenty of layers – rumbling bass, horns, tambourines, dancing guitars, backing vocals – and yet, it feels quite insular due to its production. In fact, if you listen to the stereo version available on Spotify, the weird mix puts the tambourine at a higher level than the guitar at times. And at just under two and a half minutes in length, it pales in all ways to the heavy psychedelics in the four plus minute cover by Deep Purple, all whirling hammond organs and bongo drums and fun.

Even though theirs is shorter, you kind of feel that Kula Shaker was aiming for more of the same feel of the Deep Purple cover than that of the Billy Joe Royal original. Recorded as a stop gap single between their wildly successful debut album “K” at the end of the Britpop blaze of glory and their sophomore album that unfortunately came too late, Kula Shaker’s “Hush” was a rage of 60s psych rock that incorporated within it, a decidedly 90s alternative guitar rock sound. It didn’t mine the Indian spirituality and traditional eastern folk that was the band’s hallmark in the late 1990s, instead going for the jugular with straight ahead rock. It’s a driving drum beat, screaming organs, raging guitars, and Crispian Mills letting his voice breathe right out there with the best of them that have covered this song.

This may be an unpopular take but given how taken I was with Kula Shaker at the time, how could I not love this cover better than all the other versions I have heard? (The Deep Purple cover is a close second though…)

Cover:

The original:

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

Vinyl love: Venus Furs “Venus Furs”

(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: Venus Furs
Album Title: Venus Furs
Year released: 2020
Details: standard black vinyl, hand written note from the artist

The skinny: A week and a half ago, when I started my annual series counting down my favourite albums of the year, I told the story of how I learned about a new act out of Montreal while perusing one of my favourite sources of all things indie music, Under the Radar. The self-titled debut by this very same act, Venus Furs, captured my imagination and drew me in while listening to it on Spotify through my iPod ear phones. It may have been during my second time through that I went on the hunt for it on vinyl, thinking that something this expansive required owning it in a better format. I ordered a copy of it from frontman Paul Kasner’s own label, Silk Screaming records, and received it within a couple of days, complete with a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from the man himself. Always a nice touch. “Venus Furs” ended up squeezing its way into the number 9 spot in my top ten for the year and if you enjoy noisy psych rock in the vein of Spiritualized or My Bloody Valentine, this might just be for you too.

Standout track: “Chaos and confusion”

Vinyl love: Gateway Drugs “PSA”

(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: Gateway Drugs
Album Title: PSA
Year released: 2020
Details: standard black vinyl, booklet included

]

The skinny: In a couple of weeks time, I plan to start counting down my favourite albums of 2020 and though I am still finalizing things up – crossing my Ts and dotting my Is – I know that there are a couple of albums that are definitely going to finish up just outside of my top ten that still bear special mention. And you guessed it, this might be one of them. In my opinion, it’s a travesty that Gateway Drugs’ sophomore album, “PSA”, aren’t likely to be on too many radars. I first met up with these indie rockers when I saw them open up for Swervedriver back in 2015 and was completely taken in by their sleek and sexy and pure rock and roll performance. The quartet is three siblings, Noa (guitar), Liv (bass), and Gabe (drums) Niles*, all of whom share and trade vocal duties between them, and a second guitarist in Blues Williams. This sophomore record picks up where the debut, “Magick spells”, left off, playing dirty poker for their very souls at the same table as Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Here, they’ve upped the ante, though, handing over the production to The Ravonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner. This pressing is bare bones black with a pretty sweet mini-booklet included but the sound is built for your best noise cancelling earphones.

Standout track: “Wait (medication)”

*They may be tired of us mentioning it by now but the father of these three siblings is Prescott Niles, bassist of The Knack. Rock and roll might just be second nature here.