Vinyl love: Various artists “Tiny Changes: A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight'”

(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.)

Artist: Various artists
Album Title: Tiny Changes: A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
Year released: 2019
Details: Double LP, 24 page booklet

The skinny: Back in the middle of January, I went on a bit of a Frightened Rabbit kick, posting photos from the one time I saw them live in 2013, as well as ‘Vinyl love’ instalments for the albums “The midnight organ fight”, “Pedestrian verse”, and “Painting of a panic attack”, and all of this in the span of a week. However, I waited until today, what is widely-acknowledged as the second anniversary of frontman Scott Hutchison’s death, to post this, the only other Frightened Rabbit-related vinyl in my collection (for now). This tribute to “The midnight organ fight” was in the works before Hutchison’s suicide, the recording of the album’s tunes by friends of the band were already mostly recorded to celebrate the album’s 10th anniversary, but the remaining band members decided to refocus its release after the fact. They named it for the mental health charity launched in honour of Hutchison and donated a portion of the album’s sales to it as well. The album includes covers by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Canadian indie rockers Wintersleep, fellow Scots The Twilight Sad, dream-poppers Daughter, and the lovely one below by Julien Baker. This heavyweight double-LP pressing includes a 24-page booklet filled with words and memories supplied by other members of Frightened Rabbit and by the artists that performed the covers (a few of these are shown above). And reading these really hits you hard and you can’t escape the feeling that we’ve lost a great songwriter. We miss you Scott.

Standout track: “The modern leper” as covered by Julien Baker

100 best covers: #71 Pixies “I can’t forget”

<< #72    |    #70 >>

Leonard Cohen was a great songwriter. He was a poet that wrote poems and those poems became songs when he decided to sing them, instead of just read them aloud.

Of course, when you write excellent songs, you’ll have numerous other excellent bands and solo artists lining up to cover your work. And some of them might even transcend your original versions in popularity and commercial success. Such as it is with Leonard Cohen, who has been covered many times over, and even had just the one of his songs covered thousands of times (I’m sure you can guess of which song I speak). If you ask my wife, though, she’ll tell you that Mr. Cohen is tops on the list of artists that should never be covered and that no one can come close to touching his versions. Conversely, my friend Tim has said to me on more than one occasion that he likes Leonard Cohen’s songs, but only when someone else performs them.

And I’m pretty near certain that these words were first uttered by him whilst listening to the 1991 tribute album, “I’m your fan”. This excellent 18-song compilation was put together French music magazine, “Les Inrockuptibles”. The album’s title is a play on Cohen’s 1988 album, “I’m your man”, and its track listing included varied versions of Cohen tunes by artists such as Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, House of Love, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Lloyd Cole, John Cale, James, R.E.M., and of course, this excellent cover by the Pixies.

Recorded in the same year as “Trompe le monde”, their final album before dissolution, the Pixies’ version of “I can’t forget” was unsurprisingly more upbeat and hard-hitting than the original. Indeed, it could almost be mistaken for one of their own tunes, if it had only been a bit more weird and off-kilter. Cohen’s original was recorded a mere three years earlier for the aforementioned album, “I’m your man”, and while all of its songs were great – classics now – it took me a while to get over its production and instrumentation, which were synth heavy and definitely of their time and place.

Sorry Victoria. I think I’d take the heavy guitars, faster rhythm, and Frank Black’s yelp and Kim Deal’s chiming backup over the easier listening marimba synth-programmed hangover, even if it does include Cohen’s inimitable, rich sing-speak vocals.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

Cover:

The original:

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

100 best covers: #72 Cat Power “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again”

<< #73    |    #71 >>

Just over a couple of years ago, I participated in a collaborative blog posting extravaganza, for which a number of bloggers around the world all posted words on the same day on Bob Dylan, a theme decided upon in advance. It was a fun exercise, albeit somewhat outside of this particular blog’s normally scheduled programming, and it was interesting to see how all these different writer’s chose to treat the chosen theme. In my case, I opted to write about the 2007 film “I’m not there”, an unorthodox biopic on the iconic singer/songwriter that chose to portray him using four different actors and telling bits about his life using multiple story lines. Of course, given my blog’s music bent, I spoke at length about the soundtrack as well, which is a super long (perhaps too long) double LP made up of covers, rather than the originals, by various artists across the musical spectrum. And perhaps both of these, the film and soundtrack, were as contrarian and confounding as Bob Dylan can be himself.

One of the three tracks I pointed out as amongst my favourites on the soundtrack was this cover by Cat Power of “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again”. Though to be honest, it’s definitely less about the artist performing it than it is the song itself. I know next to nothing about the American singer/songwriter but she definitely stands up to the gauntlet laid down by Dylan on this track. Hers is just shy of the seven and half minute mark of Dylan’s original but her honey smooth vocals keep the energy and the feel true to the original. Both versions bounce and jive along and bring a smile to my face every time. I actually fell in love with Dylan’s original just shy a decade earlier when I heard it on another soundtrack, the one for the very excellent screen adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson classic, “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas”.

It’s just one of those songs that could go on for ever as far as I’m concerned, even if either singer just devolved into gibberish. And well, I can’t actually decide which version I like better on this one. Thoughts?

Cover:

The original:

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