Folk, Rock

Covers Week: Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower

This one is a bit of a cheat. Bob Dylan “gave”this song to Jimi after seeing what he did to the song. It’s unreal. It’s genius. I really cannot say anything else.

Just listen to the guitar work. Orgasmic

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CSNY, Folk

Covers Week: Joni Mitchell/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock

The one song that epitomised Woodstock was just inspired by the festival and was not based on a first hand account. Back in those days, they didn’t even have cell phones so it wasn’t even possible for Graham Nash, then boyfriend of Joni Mitchell, to call her and scream “Yaaaaaaaaa! Woodstock!” and then send her a video of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” which would actually be a video of a guy videoing Jimi with his iPad. Yes, festivals were different in those days…

The story goes that Joni’s manager thought that appearing on the The Dick Cavett Show  on 19 August 1969 (a day after Woodstock) would be better for her career than to perform at the festival. Oddly enough, David Crosby and Stephen Stills came straight from the festival to the show for the recording. Her manager did have a bit of a point as Jimi Hendrix  was scheduled to appear on the show but couldn’t due to the delay of his set. Anyway, because of some major FOMO, she penned the song based on the images broadcast on TV and descriptions retold by Graham Nash presumably whilst they were lying in bed after he had five showers to get rid of the stench. Speaking of which, many of the audience members on the show came straight from Woodstock. Man, that set must have had a rather pungent odour!

Maybe its just my imagination or bias but in this acoustic rendition (which is how she first envisaged the song) you can hear that she really hated that she missed the concert. How beautiful is her voice? Seriously?

On 31 October 1970, the song hit #1 in the UK and stayed there for three weeks until Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child” kicked it off. But this time it was done by the band Matthews Southern Comfort. This was their only real big hit. It does sound like a stoner hippy song. The video is a pretty cool vignette of shots from Woodstock. Think of this as a bonus video for the day.

Anyway, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) took the song and made it into the modern classic that we all know and love. Starting with the heroic guitar riff of Stephen Stills into the melodic intertwining that they excelled at. Its a song that makes you feel you went to Woodstock. You feel the peace and love. It’s all so beautiful. I personally think its one of the greatest songs ever sung.

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Female Vocal, Folk, Pop

Covers Week: Fleetwood Mac/The Corrs – Dreams

I really like Fleetwood Mac. They’re not the most palatable classic band with many equating them to pop groups that existed with them but there is just something extraordinary about them. Their album Rumours is hauntingly beautiful. The album was written and recorded during breakups (even within the group itself.) A few months ago, I was lucky enough to come across the album in a second hand vinyl store. The album was unopened. I don’t think you understand how excited I was at that moment in time. Their recorded version  of :”Dreams” is amazing. Heartfelt, honest and filled to the brim with their musical genius.

The Corrs are one of my favourite bands (to watch on TV!) I remember coming across them when the UK were going gaga over them. So much so that there was a point when the album Talk on Corners  charted at #1 while their older album, Forgiven not Forgotten was at #2.

This success started with this video, I mean this song. The band was invited by Fleetwood Mac to cover “Dreams” for a tribute album to the band. In 1998, the song and video came to prominence and charted at #6. The song is a total rework with the soothing violins, Andrea’s extraordinary voice and an understanding by The Corrs that they were taking ownership of the song.  The Todd Terry remix added that subtle electronic vibe which propelled the song into something just amazing. I remember being completely in love with this song from the first time I heard it. It never did heavy rotation on MTV but it was played a lot on VH1 especially during the Album Chart Show (seeing that Talk on Corners stayed on it FOREVER!) As much as I love Fleetwood Mac, I really believe The Corrs do a better version.

As much as The Corrs will be remembered as a pop band (after all, can you really call “Breathless” a great piece of music? If you say yes, I will judge you severely) but Talk on Corners was really a milestone album. If you feel like broadening your discerning music taste, take a listen to it with an open mind and see what you think. Even though their later albums are forgetable, I am really glad they released this album – the world is a better place because of it.

The imagery in the video is stunning and really worth watching. However, you are going to watch the video because they are SO hot! You shouldn’t lie to yourself that you’re watching it for any other reason.

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Female Vocal, Folk, The Beatles

Covers Week: The Beatles/Sarah McLachlan – Blackbird

So a few weeks ago, I heard a song butchered. That’s actually a bad way to put it. I have been to a butcher and I know with what precision he cuts the meat so that you deem it palatable. Rather, its like you gave a three year old a cleaver and a block of meat. Disturbing.

The song in question was Mumford and Sons “The Boxer” which leaves out the iconic “dssssh” part and sounds bad, just bad. The inner hipster in me (which supposed to tell me to love it) still hates this song. I almost cried when I first heard it. It really was so bad. You probably think differently. You’re wrong.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been on a quest to find songs that are BETTER than the original. I did put in some clauses such as the song had to be recorded and included on a normal album (not a greatest hits) and live versions don’t really count.

That being said, I probably broke this rule already for this cover. As it is Monday, it is Beatles Day so I set myself the task of finding a song that was covered and sounds better than the Beatles. A few years ago, this would be quite easy seeing as though I never truly understood the beauty of the Beatles singing. Their songs lack the slick production of modern music but once you understand it, you cannot get anything better.

Enter the 2001 movie I am Sam starring Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer. Remember how hot she was in the 90s? The movie features a host of songs by The Beatles with the idea that the original recordings would be included. Getting rights to these are a bit of a pain so instead, he recruited some amazing singers to cover these songs. Seeing as the movie was developed using The Beatles songs, the timing and tempo of these songs had to follow the original. Which is a great thing. If you listen to the soundtrack, you can pick out how great some singers are. Even though they were constrained by how they could interpret the song, some of them excelled and still made the song their own.

McCartney does the song beautifully (obviously) n this deep, thoughtful way. The simple acoustic nature heightens the message and makes the song so stunning.

Sarah does the same except she does more. You feel the raw emotion that the song is alluding to. It feels so right. It feels like a down-tempo protest song meant to give people hope after they’ve suffered continuous defeat from their oppressors. Hope still remains. It’s SO hard to admit this but I do believe she may have done a better job with this song…

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EDM, Uncategorized

Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – Loops & Tings

I want to kick myself for missing this duo this past weekend as they played a set at Nicci Beach next to Wild Waters in Boksburg. The Prodigy gig on Saturday night destroyed my body although this was the best type of destruction you could ask for.

These two artists have come a long way in a rather short time. They’ve done the theme tune to Tomorrowland and well, go search on YouTube for videos from some of their parties – unbelievable.

I am kicking myself for missing out but I’m sure I will see them somewhere around the world. Anyway, this song actually is a bit of a cover version of a song by Jens from 1998. This is significant as this is a nice introduction to Covers Week which starts on Monday. You WILL enjoy it. In the meantime, get ready for the weekend with this tune.

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Jazz

Dave Brubeck – Take Five

Back when I was at the University of KwaZulu Natal, they regularly held these jazz concerts. Getting to these was virtually impossible as every week, these would get sold out. At the head was one Darius Brubeck. Not knowing much about jazz, I schemed he was just a really well locally trained jazz artist.

I recall attending one jazz show which was totally out of this world. I cannot explain how great this concert was. I can’t truly remember the concert itself but I remember that experience as if its embalmed into the essence of my body. Does jazz do this to you?

It’s probably because it was from the school of Dave Brubeck. I’ve only recently discovered the sweet music that he’s gifted us. Darius is his son.

Dave passed away at the age of 92 of 5 December 2012. The world has lost something so special.

Time magazine and The Guardian should run some great obituaries for him soon. Do get hold of these. Till then, just listen to his most famous composition…

RIP Dave

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Female Vocal, Pop, Uncategorized

The Sundays – Summertime

It’s December 🙂

That’s thoroughly fantastic. It really is my favourite time of the year. As a kid, as much as school was fun, the joy, love and togetherness of the endless December held something really special. I’ve always savoured and enjoyed my Decembers. It really is such a happy time.

I think this is the happiest song to welcome in this incredible month. This song was released in 1997 and reached an honourable #15 in the UK. It’s completely happy and fun and smiley and captures the essence of summer better than probably any other song I’ve heard.

The album Static and Silence was much acclaimed as an album to listen to when you want to enjoy the greatness of love. The album has also been described as the epitome of pop music. December is a month of love after all.

For me, this is an introduction to one of my greatest loves – female vocal. Harriet Wheeler is one of the first voices I truly fell in love with. We shall explore this in the coming months. In the meantime, just enjoy this song. Play it a couple of times – you’ll thank me later.

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