There’s something about seeing an act in concert that, (if they’re good that is), makes you a fan forever. One of the first concerts I ever attended was by The Beatles. I know, I know, I’m showing my age! I had to get my Mum’s permission to go and, to be honest, we couldn’t hear a thing for all the screaming, much of which came from my best friend Helen. But we thought we were the ants pants and I’ve never forgotten that day.
So, it was fitting that SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND opened our show on CONCERTS. Check out this clip from the movie ‘The Beatles Yellow Submarine’ and you’ll have to agree it was a perfect kick off to this week’s program:
Every concert is unique of course, but LCD Soundsystem reckon that DAFT PUNK IS PLAYING AT MY HOUSE. Oh, if only it were true!
Now, that would be a hard gig to follow. For something completely different, look no further than Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band with THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE BY THE ‘BACHELORS’, a great piece of satire about performing on the English club circuit.
STAGE FRIGHT by The Band is a song that just may resonate with some of you. It tells the story of a performer who sings just like a bird but is terrified every time he has to get up in front of an audience. Here’s a clip from the film The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese in 1978. Rick Danko R.I.P.
Not shy at all are Dire Straits. SULTANS OF SWING is about a band blowing Dixie in double four time. A perfect concert song, if ever there was one. And here they are performing it live. Excellent. It’s the seminal concert at which they recorded the album ‘Alchemy: Dire Straits Live’. The album cover, btw, was taken from a painting by Australian artist Brett Whitely.
Wild Cherry’s PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical. The group were a rock band, but in 1975 were competing with Disco for their loyal followers attention. So they wrote a song to suit the times and it’s probably the most recognised funk song there is.
The lyrics of SMOKE ON THE WATER, by Deep Purple, tell a true story too. It was December 1971 and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were performing in concert at the Montreux Casino Theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s King Kong synthesizer solo the place suddenly caught alight. Deep Purple were staying on the other side of the lake and witnessed the fire and the smoke on the water and the rest, as they say, is history.
Arguably, the most famous outdoor concert is Woodstock. And one of the most famous songs about that concert is Joni Mitchell’s WOODSTOCK. She wrote the song after being told about it by her then boyfriend Graham Nash. She wasn’t actually there herself. I prefer Matthews Southern Comfort’s version, which is probably heresy to all you Joni fans. But take a listen. I think its got a really relaxed tone to it that suits the material well. Some cool images of the Woodstock concert in this clip too.
David Bowie’s ZIGGY STARDUST is from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars . A concert film of the same name was directed by D.A. Pennebaker in 1973. Here’s Bowie singing the song on the Jonathan Ross show in 2002. Is it just me, or does the Dude just get better and better?
Sadly all the soul legends referred to in Arthur Conley’s classic SWEET SOUL MUSIC are no longer with us. How good it would have been to see them all in concert. Arthur Conley passed away himself in 2003. Here he is, on the way to the Go-Go in 1966:
I do like to play a little country music now and again, and Johnny Cash’s song about THE NIGHT HANK WILLIAMS CAME TO TOWN fitted the playlist to a tee. As did Camera Obscura’s brilliant version of Abba’s SUPERTROUPER. But the finale of the show had to go to Jackson Browne’s ode to the hard-working roadie. THE LOAD OUT was a perfect finish to a show dedicated to concerts.
Next week’s show will be on SECRET VICES/GUILTY PLEASURES. I’ve been glued to the tele watching the Eurovision Song Contest this past weekend, so that’s my guilty pleasure at the moment. What’s yours? And have they written a song about it? Let me know!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem
The Bride Stripped Bare By ‘Bachelors’ – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Stage Fright – The Band
Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Woodstock – Matthews’ Southern Comfort
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley
The Night Hank Williams Came To Town – Johnny Cash
Super Trouper – Camera Obscura
The Load-Out – Jackson Browne
Next week: SECRET VICES
A while back I did a show on ‘Covers That Are Better Than The Originals’ and I had so much fun with that. So this week it was UNLIKELY COVERS. Anything in the previous show was excluded, just to keep me on my toes. But have no fear, there were plenty more, and even quirkier versions, to choose from.
We opened the show with Peter Sellers’ hilarious version of the Beatles A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, in the style of Lawrence Olivier’s Richard 111. Thanks to Andrew for this request.
Andrew also requested the next track on our list: Hellsongs’ version of THUNDERSTRUCK. Hellsongs is an acoustic three-piece that plays what is best described as Lounge Metal. That means metal classics performed with surprisingly clear female vocals, soft guitars, an organ and two male choir-boys. They do a brilliant job of this AC/DC cover.
Stevie Wonder’s version of the Beatles classic WE CAN WORK IT OUT is a good example of what I think defines an UNLIKELEY COVER. Not only does he switch genre, he also reinterprets the emotions that underpin the track, taking it from melancholia to pure elation. So, here’s a treat: A clip from the recent 2010 Glastonbury Festival where Stevie sings both Master Blastin’ and We Can Work It Out. Enjoy.
I’LL BE MISSING YOU by P. Diddy, Faith Evans and 112, borrows the melody and arrangement of Police’s EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE to create a song that was recorded in memory of rap artist Notorious B.I.G., murdered in 1997. Thanks to Robyn for that suggestion.
Scottish alternative pop band Camera Obscura do a great version of the Abba hit SUPERTROUPER, so that had to be included. As did Nick Cave, with the very unlikely cover of Louis Armstrong’s WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
Algerian musician Rachid Taha does an intriguing Arabic version of the Clash standard ROCK THE CASBAH. Check it out:
As someone who loves their Bluegrass and is a hardcore Queen fan, (what’s not to love?), Hayseed Dixie appealed with their cover of Queen’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Come on, you’ve got to get a chuckle out of this, surely:
We followed with a very gentle rendition of the Guns & Roses’ track SWEET CHILD OF MINE. It’s from Swedish singer Victoria Bergstrom, under her Taken By Trees moniker.
SWITCHED ON BACH is the name of an album by Walter (later to become Wendy) Carlos. Recorded in 1968, using the Moog synthesiser, it became the highest selling classical music recordings of its era. We played one of the best tracks from that album, SINFONIA 35. Carlos went on to make many more recordings, including scores for the Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.
Paul Kelly only needs his guitar, and his great voice, to create a knock-out acoustic version of the Amy Winehouse signature tune REHAB. I found this on one of the very excellent Triple J Like a Version albums.
One of my favourite films of all time is JUNO and one of the best songs on that soundtrack is Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenter’s SUPERSTAR. Karen would have been proud:
The phones ran hot when this next track was played: Legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings gave Procol Harum’s A WHITER SHADE OF PALE a country voice. And then the totally indiosyncratic William Shatner covered Pulp’s COMMON PEOPLE.
But if you thought that was crazy, how about Ani DiFranco and Jackie Chan (yes, that’s correct, Jackie Chan the Hong Kong actor). They contributed a bizarre duet of Nat King Cole’s UNFORGETTABLE. Ani’s voice is great, but methinks that Jacki should just stick to acting (or maybe not!).
We followed with The Clash’s version of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic POLICE & THIEVES. While a punk rock group covering reggae does seem a bit unusual, Joe Strummer makes this great track his own.
Gee, it was hard choosing one of Johnny Cash’s covers. His album American IV: The Man Comes Around is particularly good for UNLIKELY COVERS. My favourite is his version of the Nine Inch Nails song HURT but I have played that before, so I thought I’d bring you his cover of Depeche Mode’s PERSONAL JESUS instead. This album is especially moving as Cash died soon after its release.
Lesley Gore, (that’s right, she of IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO), gave us a great version of AD/DC’s DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP. Just to prove that she can sing anything she wants to!
R & B great Billy Preston does an interesting cover of pop band Duran Duran’s GIRLS ON FILM. As do the Ramones when they do a punk version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN?
Here’s a combination I really love: C.W. Stoneking, with another track from Triple J’s Like a Version compilation: the White Stripes SEVEN NATION ARMY. Two of my favourite artists, Stoneking and Jack White. I think what makes this so good is that Stoneking hadn’t even heard the song before it was suggested that he do a cover, so it has this incredible freshness to the interpretation. Here’s an interview and his performance live in the studio. So jealous of that presenter!
We followed that with a great pairing: Jim Morrison and The Doors with their version of Howlin Wolf’s BACK DOOR MAN and Patti Smith’s amazing cover of Prince’s WHEN DOVES CRY. Thanks again to Rob for suggesting that one.
How perfect is Sid Vicious’s punk version of MY WAY, made famous originally by Frank Sinatra? Let’s face it, he couldn’t sing, couldn’t play but gee he knew how to take the piss out of society. Miss that.
What to finish the show with? Well, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN seemed an obvious choice but which version? Rolf Harris came to mind, especially after his recent appearance at Glastonbury but I’m not a big fan. Instead, the honour went to one of the best musicians in rock history, Frank Zappa.
Next week the theme is a staple of pop music: SWEETS, all those yummy sugary foods that symbolise so much about personal relationships. Let me know if you have any good suggestions. Love having your input.
For now, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
A Hard Day’s Night (Beatles cover) – Time To Remember 1965, Peter Sellers
Thunderstruck (AC/DC cover) – Hymns In The Key Of 666, Hellsongs
We Can Work It Out (Beatles) – Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Stevie Wonder
I’ll Be Missing You (Police) – P. Diddy
Super Trouper (Abba cover) – Tears For Affairs, Camera Obscura
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong cover) – B-Sides & Rarities, Nick Cave/The Bad Seeds
Rock el Casbah (Clash cover) – Arabian 2000 & 1 Nights, Rachid Taha
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover) – Killer Grass, Hayseed Dixie
Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns & Roses cover) – Taken By Trees (Victoria Bergsman)
Sinfonia 35 – Switched on Bach, Walter (Wendy) Carlos
Rehab (Amy Winehouse cover) – Like A Version Four, Paul Kelly
Superstar (Carpenters Cover) – Juno Soundtrack, Sonic Youth
A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum cover) – Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
Common People (Pulp) – Triple J Hottest 100: Volume 12 William Shatner/Joe Jackson
Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)- When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Ani DiFranco & Jackie Chan
Police & Thieves (Junior Murvin) – The Clash, The Clash
Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC cover) – When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Lesley Gore
Girls on Film (Duran Duran cover) – When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Billy Preston
Have You Ever Seen the Rain (Creedence Clearwater) – The Ramones
Sinfonia 35 – Switched on Bach, Walter (Wendy) Carlos
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes cover) – Like A Version Four, C.W. Stoneking
Back Door Man (Howlin Wolf cover)- The Doors, Jim Morisson/The Doors
When Doves Cry (Prince cover) – When Doves Cry, Patti Smith
Surﬁn’ USA (Beach Boys) – The Jesus & Mary Chain
My Way (Frank Sinatra) – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, Sid Vicious
Stairway To Heaven (Led Zepelin Cover) – Frank Zappa
Next week: SWEETS (Yummy, yummy, yummy I’ve got love in my tummy!)
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time