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Tunes

100 best covers: #66 Lenny Kravitz “American woman”

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Music quiz aficionados would do well to check out the Sunday posts on fellow blogger Geoff’s blog, “1001 albums in 10 years”. As its title suggests, the blog’s normal programming involves its intrepid author sharing thoughts on the albums in the book, “1001 albums you must hear before you die”, as he tries to listen to each one within a ten year span. Over the past few years, he has added a fun, additional component in the form a quiz with five hints and chances to guess the artist of the week. Last week, said artist of the week was iconic Canadian rockers, The Guess Who, which I thought a bit fortuitous because it gave me a chance to plug his excellent work and at the same time, provide me a  lead into my next ‘100 best covers’ post.

“American woman” is one of the few tracks by The Guess Who whose songwriting credits are attributed to all of its members rather than just its principal songwriters, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings. This is because the song was the result of an improvised jam during a soundcheck one night in Ontario, the original lyrics ad-libbed by Cummings and later edited, which the group was really ‘feeling’. It was seen by many at the time as an anti-Vietnam war song and an outsider’s view of the American approach to it but Cummings has maintained on many occasions that it is really about his preference for Canadian woman over those from our southern neighbours, a sentiment most likely a result of touring fatigue.

American musician, Lenny Kravitz covered this tune almost 30 years later, right at the height of his popularity, originally for the soundtrack of the second installment in the Austin Powers film series. His version was softer, slower, and mostly because of who he was, innately sexier than the original. I haven’t really been a fan of much of his work but this cover is an exception for me. A faithful homage to a classic, one that doesn’t try to outdo the original and knows its own limitations in its shadow. Both versions rock, sport incredible, though very different styles of vocals, and throw hammer down with guitars.

Thoughts or preferences? Always game to hear ’em.

Cover:

The original:

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

Categories
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Hopped and Confused festival 2019

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

The Hopped and Confused stage

Artists: Nobro, Alexandria Maillot, Weaves, July Talk, Taylor Knox, Cleopatrick, Born Ruffians, …
When: August 23rd and 24th, 2019
Where: Mill Street Brewery, Ottawa
Some words: If you’ve scrolled through any of my feeds on the various social media sites and apps out there, you may have noticed that, as well as being a fool for music (and vinyl collecting), I am also a card carrying Beer Enthusiast. So when you pair the two and call it a festival, as the good folks at Mill Street Brewery have done, you can bet that I would be interested. In fact, it is only by mere chance, and by chance I mean bad luck*, that it took until its fourth year running that I would finally get out to experience the Hopped and Confused festival.

With two excellent headliners this year, I took advantage of the two-day pass for an affordable $65 and was treated to an almost flawlessly run festival, mostly sunny skies, delicious beers, between set entertainment provided by local alternative radio station Live 88.5, and eight excellent and varied Canadian indie rock acts.

It all kicked off with Nobro, a Montreal-based four-piece punk rock act, or as frontwoman Kathryn McCaughey called them, “chicks who like to shred”. They were followed by a lovely set by singer/songwriter Alexandria Maillot and then, art-popsters, Weaves. The first evening was capped by the push/pull, he said/she said, Toronto rockers, July Talk, and the crowed they drew was quite eye-opening to me. Good for them indeed.

Day two started off with the power pop indie rock of Taylor Knox. Coburg, Ontario’s Cleopatrick then knocked everyone’s socks off with a blistering set that seemed way more gigantic than two people should be able to produce. Then, well, Born Ruffians were once again so excellent live, I had myself wondering why I didn’t have more of their albums.

I’m stopping there but if you’ve been counting, you might have noticed that there’s one act missing. I’m saving that one for tomorrow… Oh, and apologies for the blurriness of some of the photos but it was also a beer festival after all.

Point of reference song:Paper girl” by July Talk

Kathryn McCaughey, Sarah Dion, and Lisandre Bourdages of Nobro
Karolane Carbonneau of Nobro
Alexandria Maillot
Jasmyn Burke and Spencer Cole of Weaves
DJ Noel of Live 88.5 keeping the crowd pumped between sets
The Mills Street Brewpub on day two, before all the crowds descended
Taylor Knox
Luke Gruntz and Ian Fraser of Cleopatrick
Born Ruffians
Steve Hamelin of Born Ruffians
Luke Lalonde and Mitch Derosier of Born Ruffians
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay of July Talk
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay of July Talk
July Talk

* I even had tickets to last year’s event but came down with a wicked case of the man cold the day of the event.