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100 best covers: #59 Placebo “Bigmouth strikes again”

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One Sunday night in January, very shortly after New Year’s day in 1997, I ventured downtown Toronto to meet up with my friend Darrell from my Prose fiction workshop. I’m pretty sure the place was called Lion’s Bar and I am reasonably sure it was on College street somewhere near Kensington market but I now couldn’t tell you for sure. I remember the bar being in a basement and that it was a relatively small space but what I remember the most was that the music was awesome. Of course, that was why we were there.

The DJ that night was a friend of Darrell’s and I knew him, but only as a nodding acquaintance, mostly from a couple years of seeing him and requesting songs while he manned the decks on Saturday nights at one of York University’s college pubs. It was this same DJ that drove both Darrell and me back up to North York afterwards, long after last call, rather than subject us to the joys of the night bus. Once at his car, he handed us both promo copies of Catherine Wheel’s “Like cats and dogs” from his trunk and then played for us an advance copy James’s upcoming album “Whiplash” on his car stereo on the way home. But I am digressing here…

At some point that evening, I was on the dance floor taking a swig from my bottle of Labatt 50 just as whatever song it was that I was dancing to came to an end. It was replaced by a familiar guitar strum intro but one that was slightly edgier. Still, I placed it as “Bigmouth strikes again” and got back into dancing mode. By the time the vocals kicked in and instead of Morrissey’s plaintive warble, a Richard O’Brien-like sinister sneer chimed in, I knew that this was more than a different mix or take of the original Smiths track. And this brought a smile to my face, a smile that only widened and broke into outright laughter when the “hearing aid” lyric was modernized to “Walkman” and “Discman” for a bit of brazen hipness. This version was harder, noisier, and most definitely more glammed up than the original and that extra thirty seconds in length and increased tempo had this particular dancer slightly sweatier by the end. At its closing notes, I hurried over to the DJ to ask after the artist, which I repeated to myself over a number of times and even procured a pen to scrawl it on the inside of my cigarette pack because I no longer trusted my drunken brain to retain it.

Just over a year later, my ears pricked up when I heard the same band announced over the radio with a brand new song called “Pure morning”, which I loved immediately and this song ended up being a big hit for Placebo. I later came across the “Bigmouth strikes again” cover on the bonus disc that came with the deluxe edition of their 2003 album, “Sleeping with ghosts”, and I was immediately transported back to that very fun evening. And I experience the same sort of joy every time I hear this song now.

Is the Placebo cover better than The Smiths’ original? I can’t say that it is. But it’s probably just as fun to dance to.

Cover:

The original:

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

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Lowest of the Low “Hallucigenia”

(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.)

Lowest of the Low 'Hallucigenia' on vinyl

Artist: Lowest of the Low
Album Title: Hallucigenia
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2018
Details: Black vinyl, 2 x LP, part of five album box set, autographed and limited to 300 copies, (box set includes booklet, lyrics sheets, poster, and stickers)

'Hallucigenia' pronunciation

Box booklet 'Hallucigenia' blurb

Box 'Hallucigenia' stuff

Box lyric sheet reproduction Bit

Box booklet 'Hallucigenia' paraphenalia

Box booklet 'Hallucigenia' lyric sheet

'Hallucigenia' Black Monday lyrics

'Hallucigenia' insert 1

'Hallucigenia' insert 2

'Hallucigenia' inside gatefold

'Hallucigenia' back cover

'Hallucigenia' on the turntable

The skinny: Last weekend, I took the opportunity to do a Vinyl Love revisit of Lowest of the Low’s “Shakespeare my butt…” (my favourite album of 1991) and it also served as an introduction to the next four weeks of Vinyl Love posts. I finally broke down and purchased the “Shakespeare my box” vinyl box set just after Christmas this year using money received as gifts. The box includes the group’s first four records, as well as a bonus disc of rarities and b-sides, not to mention a 24-page full colour booklet and various other goodies. No regrets at all. The only reason I had put it off so long was because I already had the debut and hoped that the other albums would be released individually. “Hallucigenia” was a big part of why I finally bit the “Bullet”*. Interestingly, I was originally disappointed with Lowest of the Low’s sophomore album when it was released in 1994 but I grew to love it over time and many of these tunes became personal favourites in their catalogue. This first ever pressing to vinyl is done over two discs and side four, includes 3 B-sides that weren’t on the original release.

Standout track: “Black Monday”

*The pun was not intended but appreciated after re-reading what I wrote.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love (revisited): Lowest of the Low “Shakespeare my butt…”

(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…)

Lowest of the Low 'Shakespeare my butt' on vinyl

Artist: Lowest of the Low
Album Title: Shakespeare my butt…
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2018
Details: Black vinyl, 2 x LP, part of a five album box set, autographed and limited to 300 copies (box set includes booklet, lyrics sheets, poster, and stickers)

Box set cover

Box set inside cover autographs

Box set 'Shakespeare my butt' stuff

'Shakespeare my butt' Rosy &amp; grey lyrics sheet

Box set booklet Sneaky's

Box set booklet band story

Box set booklet 'Shakespeare my butt' memorabilia

Box set booklet 'Shakespeare my butt' lyrics page

'Shakespeare my butt' Henry lyrics

'Shakespeare my butt' inside gatefold

'Shakespeare my butt' insert 2

'Shakespeare my butt' insert band members

'Shakespeare my butt' insert 1

'Shakespeare my butt' back cover

'Shakespeare my butt' on the turntable

The skinny: Just two days ago, I wrapped up a countdown of my ten favourite albums of 1991 with this very album landing at the number one spot. I feel that this gives me an opportunity to do one of these Vinyl Love revisits for “Shakespeare my butt…”, something I’ve been looking forward to doing for a while. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I started doing these revisits to do a better job with some of my favourite albums that I did early on but in the case of this one, it’s more because I actually updated the vinyl version I had in my collection. I finally decided to pull the trigger on the “Shakespeare my box” vinyl box set with some money that I received for Christmas but this meant I had an extra copy of the Low’s debut record. I shipped my old one to my younger brother and this here’s my new one, the first album in a five album set (the other four will follow in the coming weeks). And yeah, they really did a great job with this box set. The fact that each one was signed and included stickers and reproductions of handwritten lyric sheets is really just a bonus tacked on to the 24-page booklet, the band’s first four albums, and a bonus disc of rarities.

Standout track: “Henry needs a new pair of shoes”