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100 best covers: #67 The Sundays “Wild horses”

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I’m not really a huge Rolling Stones fan. However…

However, there are some of their tunes that I really like, mostly from their very early days. I purchased a copy of their compilation “Hot rocks 1964-1971” on cassette tape back when I was in high school and listened to it quite a bit on my Walkman. So I definitely recognized this cover by The Sundays when I first heard it. I distinctly remember being in the car, not far from home in Bowmanville, the town in which I spent my formative years. I was listening to the new music preview on CFNY on the car stereo and they were having some sort of cover song special. I particularly remember this fact because they also played another great cover song, one that will figure in later on this list so I won’t mention it here.

This cover by The Sundays was actually my introduction to the band. I really enjoyed the sound, which I would much, much later identify as dream pop, and thus, made a point of remembering their name. Still, it was a while before I made the connection between them and their big single, “Here’s where the story ends”, which I’d heard many times on the radio and now easily count as favourite by them. To this day, The Sundays are one of those bands that make me smile every time I hear them, even despite their often sad melodies.

Interestingly, their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild horses” feels a bit more upbeat than the original, the acoustic strumming a bit more peppy than the sad lethargy and pining for home felt in Keith Richards’ electric accoutrements. Mick the balladeer was always enjoyable to me and on their original, he’s all very late night and tired, the mood slow burning and sobering, right to the bitter end, which closes up right around the six minute mark. The Sundays recorded their cover almost twenty years later and rather than a late night booze can, theirs evokes a vacuous chamber where all sound wavers and melts. All except for Harriet Wheeler’s vocals, which, instead, dance on a cloud, the quiet whispers and the plaintive and aching vocals, all call out into the wilderness, scream out to you for an embrace.

Do I prefer the cover or the original? Tough call, that one. Both are evocative of their time and place and energy. What do you think?

Cover:

The original:

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

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Tunes

Best tunes of 1990: #13 The Sundays “Here’s where the story ends”

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The Sundays’ “Here’s where the story ends” epitomizes for me the dog days of summer, something we have yet to really experience here in Ottawa, Canada this year. The song is jangly and full of sunshine, yet you don’t have to make a lot of movements to be able to dance to it. Instead, the peppy yet subdued guitar strumming backbone of the song, warms you up, bringing to mind some of the more upbeat tunes from The Smiths’ repertoire, and yet Harriet Wheeler’s vocals are completely different than those of Morrissey. Less affected and more natural and yes, actually cheerful.

The Sundays were formed by Wheeler and David Gavurin in 1988. While they added members to become a four piece by the time they recorded any material, the original duo were the main creative force behind this British alternative rock band. They released their debut album, “Reading, writing, and arithmetic”, in 1990 and it was a creative and commercial success, reaching number 4 on the UK charts and 39 in the US, mostly on the back of “Here’s where the story ends”. They released two more albums in the nineties, with each selling about the same amount of units as the debut. After that, silence. They have never officially broken up but it’s been almost twenty years since their last release. Apparently, Wheeler and Gavurin, after taking time away to raise their two children, have been working on new material, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will ever see the light of day. The couple are notorious for taking their time and are perfectionists when it comes to their own music.

Still, we have a pretty solid body of work from the band in the 1990s. “Here’s where the story ends” is a particularly lovely slice of joy. So bring on the sunshine.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.