…and to what degree said songs were welcomed is lost to posterity. Although there was probably some element of reciprocation, what with something entitled Five Wow Songs Addressed To Boys scheduled to be posted just as soon as I get round to it…
The Mission / Fabienne
Pompous, overblown, bedecked in chiffon scarves – onstage the band often resembled a pennant-festooned liner gliding into port during heavy fog – yup, I’m guessing that it’s easy to mock The Mission and their brand of patchouli-scented pseudo-goth rock. Think early Aerosmith uprooted to a Leeds cellar or Liverpool batcave, then forced to improvise the soundtrack to a hobbit movie (tangential fact: The Mission covered Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’ on their Children album).
So obviously I’m a fan – at least of sorts, tendrils of nostalgia reminding me of what I was listening to when fourteen or fifteen. This track, some kind of florid declaration – again from Children– it caught my ear particularly firmly at the time; the usual flowery motifs, the expectedly earnest sentiment, riffs culled from a tributary of rock music far harder than the other elements would suggest. I would very much imagine that I got drunk – alone, natch – to this record all those years ago, passionately subscribing to a degree of lyrical intensity as filtered through adolescent imaginings (and I’ll leave it to others to point out that maybe not so much has changed).
Siouxsie And The Banshees / Dear Prudence
As tawdry and unimaginative as Fab Four covers exclusively are, there’s something exotic to the execution of this. The all-embracing sweep of the guitars. Synth cadences subtle, playful. Siouxsie all sultry and enigmatic – there are times you can’t be sure of her plans; is this a statement of sisterly solidarity or a statement of intent, the soliloquy prior to her fucking Prudence, even eating Prudence?
This is a trippier record than the original, but it‘s also warmer, thankfully devoid of the slight edge of causticity with which Lennon couldn’t but help smear across even his tender-most songs. Like dropping a pebble in a pool, the concentric rings from this keep enticing you towards some central point – symptomatic of a band at the top of their game, confident enough to interpret something so well known and yet demurely position it in a different light.
Julian Cope / Charlotte Anne
And whilst this blog grows far too predictable, pinioned against the back-cat of the same old artists, Julian Cope’s porcelain-rimmed 1988 single still stands out from any residual hubbub. It‘s a song that‘s statuesque, almost stately in structure. Eyes that follow you around a room – it‘s very much demonstrative of Cope‘s wily approach to composition. I actually purchased this (on lovely 7” vinyl, obviously) upon release, such were the persuasive sweeps of empathy, and a duplicitous feint either ever-so-subtle or simply unintended (one line in particular always grabbed my attention – My splendid art I will betray you. Insert a comma after the third word, and the meaning changes significantly).
And you know what – I’d still vehemently argue for this track. There’s a mesmerizing element, just beneath the surface… only don’t get me started on his more recent output.
When it comes to all things Elvis, Jorge over at Every -ist and Every- ism is far more lucid, engaging and downright knowledgeable than me – yet even a recently-outed Mission devotee can appreciate the sharpness of songcraft that underpins the Costello canon. Where-as the vast majority of boy-to-girl tracks have at their centre at least some kind of romantic statement, ‘Veronica‘ is instead a poignant and bitter-sweet record, directing the spotlight on some as-was version of the protagonist as much as focusing upon present tense.
This is a song primarily about Alzheimer’s. In lesser hands this could have so easily drifted towards the syrup of sentimentality; that this songs works so well in entirely due to the how the tone of both tempo and instrumentation perfectly segue with the lyrical nuances. A track much more enticing than a first impression would indicate, despite a certain P McCartney on co-writer duties.
A Perfect Circle / Judith
And then a very different genus of “love song” – if that‘s the correct classification for this abrasive slab of blasphemous US heavy rock. But don‘t dismiss out of hand; APC, an occasionally-resurrected side-project with guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan at its hub, have always propagated a multi-textured approach, as if re-evaluating conventional metal inflexions. Listen to any Tool record and you can almost visualise the band straining to subvert the confines of heavy rock – so much so that it‘s often difficult to listen to the song behind the posturing. A Perfect Circle however, by way of being an iota more commercial in execution, retain an intelligent sound that sidesteps Tool‘s more esoteric compulsions. Having also caught them live – accidentally, of all things – I can certainly vouch for the elegant power behind their sound.
‘Judith‘ is the band’s 2000 début single. In theory, very much not the type of record to get my home fires burning – but that’s only theory.