5.8.06

Cover me. I'm going in...


(Photo by stephanie librarian)

Sometimes covers can be great. Sometimes even better than the original, although these are few and far between. Today's songs aren't really better than their peerless originals, but are worth a listen all the same.

Right now, Low are one of my absolute favourite bands. They thrilled me at their show last week, and the more of their music I listen to, the better it gets. They've done a number of covers: The Smith's Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me, the Bee Gees I Started A Joke, Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind, even the Beach Boys' Surfer Girl. But it was their version of Pink Floyd's Fearless that really piqued my interest. For a start, it's one of my favourite Floyd songs - the original features the Kop on backing vocals, for a start, alongside a beautiful and hypnotic acoustic riff. And although I still come back to Floyd's later canon (The Wall, Wish You Were Here) more than I do their earlier, it's from a great record - Meddle is pre-Dark Side..., and has some of it's clarity and scope in awesome space-rock epics like Echoes, but retains the childlike pop sensibilities in St Tropez, for example. And Low's is a great version, very faithful certainly, but definitely pretty cool.

Pink Floyd - Fearless
Low - Fearless

Covers come broadly in two fashions - the faithful, and the unfaithful. Low's comes under the first bracket, this second really doesn't. You'll know Harry Nilsson if nothing else for Without You - no, Mariah Carey didn't write it, idiot, and Nilsson's version is still the definitive. Here (from Said The Gramophone, originally) is his version of Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, one of my absolute favourites, a real classic from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come. I think I still prefer Cliff's heart-rendingly powerful voice and the original's reggae/gospel backing, but this more raucous rendition certainly has it's own power and interest.

Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross
Harry Nilsson - Many Rivers To Cross

Buy Pink Floyd/Low/Jimmy Cliff/Harry Nilsson

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2 comments:

Lou said...

"Without You" was written by Tom Evans and Pete Ham of Badfinger and originally appeared on their LP No Dice.

Oh Simone said...

OK, but Nilsson's is the definitive version right? I don't think anyone else has topped it.