Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Elvis Presley V's Link Wray V's The Residents


This post is from the May 2006 issue of Mojo magazine which looks at the life of Elvis Aaron Presley and also has a CD which provides a mix of 15 cover versions of Elvis tracks, plus I've added a bonus track here not included on the Mojo CD.

Elvis was a hero to most.

"Link Wray is The King!" proclaimed The Who's Pete Townshend in 1974. "If it wasn't for Rumble, I would never have picked up a guitar." And, just as the likes of Townshend, Jeff Beck and Neil Young idolised Wray, so too Link worshipped Presley, who invited him to dinner at Graceland. Wray's ultimate compliment - other than this faithful cover - consisted of naming one of his sons Link Elvis Wray. He sings pretty good for a guy who contracted tuberculosis while serving in the Korean War and had his left lung removed. Sadly, Link Wray passed away on November 5th, 2005.

The Residents are an avant garde music and visual arts group. They formed in the early 1970s and released their first record in 1972, a double-disc 45 RPM recording entitled Santa Dog. They have released nearly sixty albums, created numerous musical films, designed three CD-ROM projects, and undertaken six major world tours. They are still active and will be releasing a new CD in May 2006, entitled "The River Of Crime" and said to be modeled after the radio dramas of the 1940s (from wikipedia). They also released an album full of Elvis covers with 1993's "The King & Eye".

Monday, April 17, 2006

John's Children

John's Children

This post is from the April 2006 issue of the Mojo magazine CD which provides a compilation of 15 bands from the psychedelic scene in London which spawned Pink Floyd (and a couple of years later the prog rock scene). The track I have posted here is from John's Children.

"Please. I-I'm losing my mind. Help me now before it's too late..." pleads John's Children's frontman Andy Ellison on this debut 1966 single by Surrey's acid advocates. An appearance alongside Pink Floyd, The Move, The Pretty Things et al at the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream at Alexandra Palace followed a year later, but Smashed Blocked remains John's Children at their most unhinged.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

PJ Harvey Vs Fluf

Polly Jean Harvey

Polly Jean Harvey has to be one of the sexiest and most talented guitar player / singer / songwriters and strongest female role models in all of indie-dom.

Roaring out of Yeovil, England in 1991 with her 3 piece band, PJ Harvey released the single "Sheela Na Gig" to highly acclaimed reviews in the London music press and released her debut album "Dry" in 1992, which was also well received.

1993's Steve Albini produced "Rid Of Me" was a major critical success and expanded Harvey's cult greatly. I remember playing this album repeatedly and very loudly when it was first released as it reflected quite well a brief, yet disastrous, personal relationship.

But it was 1995's "To Bring You My Love", her first solo album, which became Polly's mainstream critical breakthrough.

Her star has shone so brightly ever since, with not only 9 album releases, but a starring performance as (Mary) Magdalena in Hal Hartley's 1998 French-produced film "The Book of Life ", a comedy about the Second Coming of Christ.

PJ was also the first woman to win the Mercury Prize (in 2001) and has collaborated with musicians including Nick Cave, Josh Homme and Gordon Gano, amongst others.

What a woman!

Fluf formed in San Diego in 1992 and play "happenin' melodies with friggin' raw, heavy guitar" much in the vein of Dinosaur Jr and Sugar.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Carpenters V's Shonen Knife

The Carpenters

Thanks to AM radio, the music of The Carpenters became a part of the lexicon of my early musical youth. That and those dodgey TV specials. I also recognised the uniqueness of Karen Carpenter - the only female singer/drummer I was aware of in those days. Dig the pedal steel guitar in their version of "Top Of The World".

In another lifetime, when commencing a three month back packing holiday through Indonesia with my then new girlfriend (and now lovely wife), we found a cassette copy of the wonderful cover album "I Wish I Was A Carpenter". We were to play the album over and over while travelling some of the remote islands of Indonesia, including the area which used to be known as the Spice Islands. Great memories, but I digress. This is what I love about cover versions, where songs can be given a completely different treatment, and often improve upon the original. This album is full of excellent reworkings of the songs of The Carpenters by such excellent bands as Sonic Youth, Matthew Sweet, Grant Lee Buffalo, Redd Kross, Bettie Serveert and heaps of other indie bands. This is a rare compilation of cover versions where most of the performances actually improve on or add an interesting new dimension to the original version.

But my favourite cover version on this album is "Top Of The World" but the very cute girls of Shonen Knife. It takes the original version and turns it into a Jap-Pop mini-anthem. Very cool!