Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #55 Smashing Pumpkins “Never let me down again”

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I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Depeche Mode, especially of their period spanning the late 1980s to the late 1990s. In fact, last year on these very pages, I did a series of three posts on the iconic synth pop band, each one focusing on my top five tunes of their three very distinct eras: the prolific 1980s, the popular 1990s, and everything that followed, in a more experimental but still very relevant vein.

Near the end of that middle and very popular period in the 90s, a tribute album was put together by the artists and management team behind the industrial rock group, God Lives Underwater. Titled “For the masses”, it featured reimaginings by said band, but also by The Cure, Veruca Salt, Meat Beat Manifesto, and yes, Smashing Pumpkins. I bought the compilation on compact disc, of course, but was mostly disappointed with it and only ever listened to it a few times. And often those few times that it found itself in my player were because I had a hankering to listen to one of the disc’s meagre bright spots, that is, the track that we are focusing on today.

Smashing Pumpkins originally included their cover of “Never let me down again” as a B-side to the single, “Rocket”, released in 1994, just as they were breaking into the mainstream. The cover’s later inclusion on this compilation was the impetus for my buying the CD, after hearing it quite a bit on alternative radio. It is one of the few examples here that the covering artist really remakes the subject matter into their own thing. Where the original was robotic, dark, cold, and practically unemotional, Billy Corgan and gang inject a bit of warmth and yes, some increased sensuality to the proceedings. They take the convertible out for a ride in sunshine, still wearing sunglasses and cool, of course, the guitars are jangling and the drumming peppy, and Corgan is all snarls and whispery and just this side of screaming it out.

Yeah, it’s a great cover. Can I really say it’s better than Mode’s original synth pop evocation of drug euphoria? Nope.Do I think it’s still worth playing over and over? Oh yes.

Cover:

The original:

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

Categories
Randomness Tunes

“Sit down”

“I’ll sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour”

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve posted to these pages. And this is not like the last time I took a break from posting back in July, when I decided I needed a break and took a planned vacation. No, this break wasn’t planned at all. It just happened. The words weren’t coming so I didn’t force them.

Much like 2020, the year 2021 has been a hard one for me and I’m sure it’s been the same for many of you. It’s not just the pandemic though, there’s a lot of things, just as there always seem to be, but now they are exacerbated by our collective current situation. Thankfully, music has been a blessing through all of this. That’s the truth. And the blogging about music through all of this has also been a gift, but at the same time, it’s also been a hefty weight. And in stepping back from it for the second time this year, I’ve asked myself a number of times if I should continue on or simply pack it in.

“If I hadn’t seen such riches
I could live with being poor”

The answer came to me while spinning vinyl on the eve of my birthday this past weekend and one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands came up. Singing along to these words, as I have so many times, I decided that there’s no way I should pack this in. There’s still so much music to write about, and gush over, and over and over, if necessary. But I also decided that I don’t want to continue on in the same way. I don’t want this to be a weight. I don’t want to be posting words just because I feel obliged to do so.

So instead, I am going to post words when it feels right to do so. The posts may come less on a rigid schedule and less frequently, but hopefully, they will be even more worthy of your time and attention. I have a couple pieces in the pipe that should see the light of day soon but in the meantime, let’s have another listen to this great number that topped my list of tunes for 1991.

Yeah, sing it with me…

“Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me”

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love (revisited): Spirit of the West “Go figure”

(I started my Vinyl Love posts pretty much right after the launch of this blog to share photos of my growing vinyl collection. Over time, the photos have improved and the explanations have grown. And looking back at a handful of the original posts in this series, I found myself wanting to re-do some of them so that the posts are more worthy of those great albums. So that’s what I’ll be doing every once in a while, including today…)

Artist: Spirit Of The West
Album Title: Go figure
Year released: 1991
Details: Original German pressing, signed, numbered, includes a signed certificate from the band, band photo from their final show (also signed)

The skinny: Spirit of the West is one of my all-time favourite bands and one that has a special place in my heart, given that my wife and I got together at one of their concerts. 1991’s “Go figure” was my first introduction to the Canadian folk rock group and the CD copy I had of it followed me from high school into university and beyond. After carving out a celtic folk rock niche in the 1980s, John Mann, Geoffrey Kelly, Hugh McMillan, and Linda McRae ventured into alt-rock territory with “Go figure”, enlisting drummer Vince Ditrich to fill out their sound. I had been dying to track down any of their albums for my shelves ever since I began collecting vinyl again, so snapping up a copy of this album from the band’s website when they put it up for sale back in December 2017 was a no-brainer. It’s an original pressing that they found a few copies of left over from long past tours. The band all signed the cover, included with it a ‘certificate of authenticity’, as well as a signed photo taken at the band’s last ever concert in 2016. This is a treasure indeed.

Standout track: “D for Democracy”