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Just over a week ago, on May 2, an album that many consider one of the greatest, if not the greatest debut album ever, The Stone Roses’ self-titled album, celebrated its 30th anniversary. The final track on the original UK release of that album was this dance floor freak out, encapsulated in an epic, eight plus minutes called, “I am the resurrection”. It was steady and funky drumming by Reni, a muscular bass line by Mani, John Squire’s beautiful guitar wankery, and a young Ian Brown brashly invoking New Testament messiah imagery to talk about relationships and the breakups thereof. And then, halfway through the song, Squire takes over and leads the rest of the players through a four minute guitar outro. The album and this song was the template for the psych rock and acid house fusion that was the baggy/Madchester scene.
Almost twenty years later, Jon Lawler decided he needed a creative change from his full-time gig as frontman for The Fratellis. Thus, he formed a side-project with vocalist/keyboard player Lou Hickey called Codeine Velvet Club and put out one self-titled album of retro sixties leaning indie pop before breaking up a couple years later. There was a bonus track on that one album and it was a lounge-flavoured cover of The Stone Roses’ “I am the resurrection” that we never knew we needed.
Where The Stone Roses are still very much revered 30 years later around the world, I feel that Codeine Velvet Club (and possibly The Fratellis) are largely forgotten or ignored outside of England only ten years later. And yet, I do love both versions of this song. I mean, you can’t touch the original for its sheer majesty and near perfection but the gall and cheek of the cover make it a worthwhile go as well.
How do you improve upon a perfect song? More horns and Mike Flowers!
For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.
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Handsome Furs were the duo of Dan Boeckner and then wife and poet Alexei Perry. Formed in Montreal in 2006, it was meant as a side-project for the ever musically active and tireless rocker in Boeckner and for a short time, became his main creative outlet when Wolf Parade went on hiatus in 2011.
Boeckner and Perry released three full-length albums in a six year span under the Handsome Furs name before the duo split musically and otherwise. I remember being super disappointed because they had been slated to the 2012 rendition of Ottawa’s Bluesfest and I noticed one day, on one of the many instances of checking the lineup for new additions, that their name was subtracted without an explanation. It’s a shame, really, that I never got to see them. All three of their albums are quite excellent. This little regret is only slightly tempered given that I’ve since seen another of Boeckner’s projects, Operators, as well as Wolf Parade perform at Bluesfest.
“Sound kapital” is Handsome Fur’s third and final album and Boeckner’s first ever written completely on keyboards, rather than guitars. The album was inspired by Eastern European industrial and electronic music from the 1980s but if you think that will mean an album of austere and frigid numbers, think again. This is Dan Boeckner, the embodiment of Canadian indie rock. There’s plenty of guitars and his raw, Bruce Springsteen-like vocals breathes life into the genre.
“Dogs in the capital howling at dawn
Someone’s driving by with the radio on
Someone making noise from the center of town
You kick em in the head and you kick em when they’re down
and you don’t serve the people”
“Serve the people” starts off with the lines above in a croon, sounding like it’s coming from a different age through broken speakers, and then, it changes with the introduction of synthesizers and an electronic beat. There’s steam and factory sounds and weird washes and wah-wahs and plenty of other noise muddying the stomp of dance floor rhythm. And somehow it all turns into a fist pumping anthem with Boeckner leading the charge, a guerrilla revolutionary with dishevelled hair and a cigarillo dangling from his lips. Yeah, serve the people, Dan.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.