Just in case anyone was in any doubt, this is what Into the Valley is supposed to sound like. If you prefer it tweely tapped out on a glockenfuckingspiel, then that is up to you, but personally, it makes me want to shout incredibly loudly into the face of the marketing director of Halford's for about twenty minutes.
Why is the world now full of weedy covers? I am guessing it's the same trend that started at the turn of the century with the likes of Nouvelle Vague, and even the Mike Flowers Pops offering a fresh new take on the punk and electronica that had become our classics. It was an interesting diversion, and made us pause for a second to consider the inherent structures and melodies of the music we loved, and see that while, say, Teenage Kicks as performed by the Undertones was ours, the song itself was universal. It was a fleeting reflective moment in pop history. SO WHY IS IT STILL GOING ON? The weedy cover is actually starting to proliferate and choke anything original. We now have acts like Ed Sheeran whose entire ouvre sounds like a series of weedy covers of something much better.
Why are people making and buying this stuff? Is it spite? Is it possible that my generation had all the best tunes, and so modern artists have set out to ruin them? Is it subversion? Are the weedy coverists trashing the past like the Sex Pistols did when they thrashed Stepping Stone into noisy unrecognisability? Or is it simply the reduction of art to the lowest common denominator? One of the most terrifying examples of a weedy cover came in a recent car ad (as so many do), in which some wispy Euromodel was juxtaposed with a weedy cover (possibly Nouvelle Vague's, come to think of it) of the Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen in Love. At the end of the commercial, the model was shown on a stage with a full band playing their hearts out, sweatlessly punching the air and miming to this faint echo of a tune, AS IF THIS WAS THE MOST FUN POP MUSIC COULD EVER POSSIBLY BE.
I have been made aware, via Asda FM, of a cover version of Soft Cell's Say Hello Wave Goodbye (the internet is inconclusive, but the perpetrator is possibly David Gray) which not only scrubs the original up so brutally that all the beautiful patina is lost, but to add insult to injury changes the excellent noun "sleeparound" to "runaround", whatever that may mean. Is it really the case that modern listeners cannot cope with noisy instruments or faintly mucky words? Are we all now eight year old puritans constantly trying to take a nap? And why is the weedy cover synonymous with the car advert? (that's not a hard one actually - manufacturers are presumably keener to identify their product with soppy wistful young women than with screaming death metal, but even so...) One hopes and believes that this can all only be the lull before some incredibly noisy and impolite storm.
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
A Visitor's Guide to Coventry
(probably a poem but putting line breaks in is hard...)
Look up: they don't look up in this city any more. Up there is where the trouble started, where the burning bones came from, the splinters of fire, the drownbreath of bereavement. But that was old when Death was a baby, and still they fear it, even their granddaughters don't look up. Let's look up. There's another city in the canopy, hotels of hope and brave tower blocks. Aspirational Ikea. Well, it is round here - this isn't Birmingham you know. They pulled all the blue from the sky; we can see it every day now. No need to look up. But if you look up there are the spires. See, the roads aren't the only way out of the city. The saints are up there stained and waiting. Air ghosts. And peregrines, they lift tiny lives in pigeons to their exalted nest, like angels, like bombs. Look up and there's a plaque for rude heroes and a towering Godiva. Look up, an ancient and haunted kebab shop. Look up: a space where an elephant once was. Look up if you can, history holds down your eyes but still you can. Look up.
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