Music blogging. It’s incredibly easy to write with a sneer permanently attached. Record X, Album X, Band X (but never Richard X) – well, these are the things we can enthuse over, basking in the rays of wow by assimilation.
But the rest, that flotsam and jetsam of the stereo’s tidal flux? Fuck it, I’ll just sow these words with lazy dismissal and vague contempt, because Record Y, Album Y, Band Y (and Richard X) don’t press my buttons, and you’re far more likely to read “witty” misanthropy than a one-dimensional appraisal such as “Coldplay, they’re okay I suppose”.
Cover versions intrinsically attract the sneer approach. Cover versions of explicitly well-known tracks virtually beg for snide-filled rhetoric, if for no other reason than the requirement to commit feeds off an artist’s over-confidence and a complete lack of imagination (for the latter in particular, see ‘I Am The Walrus’ by Oasis, or The Lemonheads’ version of ‘Mrs Robinson’).
Hence below the words, you can blame some unaccountable mellowing on my part for the lack of sneer. Even though the cover version in question taps into material iconic, overplayed, and far too familiar. It’s all to do with angles, I’d wager; regarding the source not as a means to an end, but as a starting point, a route in and around the original composition (regardless of how high this ranks in the soundtrack to our youth).
June Tabor and Oysterband have form when it comes to reinventing the songs of others; it’s all part of that fine folk tradition, where like open-source software, songs exist the be moulded by the subtle touches of each generation. I’ve been meaning to blog about their version of John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey’s haunting ‘That Was My Veil’ – but never got around to it because I’m lazy and like a drink (I’ll add this track to the below the words, too). But it’s their version of that Joy Division standard that’s been on the LGM playlist of late (as well as the listening hours of others, considering that the band played this on Jools Holland’s show earlier this week). It’s all about pace, about texture, subtly rich harmonies that lend an air of gravitas, drawing you inwards towards the song’s bitter-sweet embrace.
Have yourself a listen… after which we can reattach our sneers for all to see, like the über-modern ladies and gents we truly are.
June Tabor And Oysterband / Love Will Tear Us Apart
June Tabor And Oysterband / That Was My Veil