Friday, June 03, 2016

Everybody Up! 7 - Of The Can, And How To Can It

6. DANA GILLESPIE "Andy Warhol"

Jesus.  I came back for this?

Now, you may think I'm calling automatic Bowie Blasphemy on this one.  It's not the case that I criticise Bowie covers without prejudice - I've just had my head blown off by Girl In A Coma's version of "As The World Falls Down", for instance, and I don't even like that song when Bowie does it - but this one adds many, many bells and whistles, which only serve to take away from the beautiful simplicity of the original. 

In other words, the very worst kind of cover version.  Mind you, Bowie himself is producing and Mick Ronson (more on him very soon) is playing guitar, so they must have approved on some level.  Perhaps the contrast between the two versions would be found interesting and admirable, but... 

Ah, I just don't get it.  That's probably the kindest way to put it.  I think knowing that the song was in some way an expression of Bowie's disappointment at meeting someone he admired very much and having a poor experience means that dressing this in the gaudy baubles of pop just leaves me a bit cold.

7. SUZI QUATRO "Can The Can"

Not to be confused with the 1980's mixed fruit flavoured carbonated drink of (half) the same name - yes, we all enjoyed a tin of Suzi back in the day oh my God did I really just crack that joke that was utterly pathetic - this is arguably Ms Fruit-Flavoured Carbonated Drink's best remembered offering.  Well, this or "Devil Gate Drive".

Leaving aside for a minute whether the song is good or not, it does raise the question of how one cans a can, and whether it is, in fact, advantageous to do so.  "Canning" foods in a metal vessel that, in the UK anyway, is usually made of tin, helps to preserve the freshness and edibility of the contents.  So we have two possible interpretations here:

1) that to "can the can", one must place a tin can inside another tin can;
2) that to "can the can", one must place a tin can full of food inside another tin can.

I think option 2 is more is more plausible, given that there's little point in preserving an empty tin can - unless goats took over the Earth, and wanted to keep the metal that they would be eating fresh by encasing it in other metal.  Though being goats, they'd probably just eat both.  And anyway, goats haven't taken over the Earth.  Goats taking over the Earth?  We're trying to have an intellectual conversation here.  Stop being silly.

Now, what would the motivation behind double-canning an already-canned foodstuff be?  One has to think that there could only be two of these as well:

1) a boost in preservation power;
2) increased security.

Again, we can rule one of these out immediately.  Anybody that can get into one can possesses the technology to get into two; unless someone's invented some kind of super security can, with lasers or something.  And that's a stupid idea.  Why did you come up with that idea, idiot?  We're having a serious conversation here about canning cans, and you're bogging me down with some nonsense about security cans?  Just...  Just drop it, OK?

So there you have it: by a process of elimination, canning the can involves boosting the preservative power of a tin can of food by placing it into another can.  Perfectly sensible; no goats, no security cans (security cans - pah!), nothing but the very sensible idea of canning canned food.  And by a scientific process of elimination, that's what this song must be all about!

Oh yeah, it's quite good as well.  But "Devil Gate Drive" is better, so they should have put that one on instead.  Then we wouldn't have had to have that whole business about what canning the can is.

8. THE NEW YORK DOLLS "Looking For A Kiss"

Unlike my excoriations of Lou Reed, my criticisms of The New York Dolls are underpinned with a certain melancholy.  I should like this band - why don't I?  When I heard their reputation and read of their antics, I felt certain I would like them; I feel like I've failed myself in some way by not doing so.

I like plenty of image-over-music, ramshackle, arguably tone deaf, confrontational and heavily made-up bands.  If I didn't like those qualities, I'd be unable to appreciate such of my heroes as These Animal Men, Billy Childish, Guitar Wolf, S*M*A*S*H or Manic Street Preachers - and that's clearly not the case.

Maybe it's because I know what came next - that they were about to be beaten at their own game of spectacle and establishment-baiting by the original UK punk scene, and even some of their US counterparts.  For whatever reason though, they have failed to get under my skin.

Which means the only question I can really answer is: where does this stand in the huge category of The Three Songs I Know By The New York Dolls?  And the answer is: second.  Worse than "Trash", better than "Jet Boy".

9. NAZARETH "This Flight Tonight"

Scottish band Nazareth may not be quintessentially glam, but you can't deny there are sections of this offering that definitely show the hallmarks thereof; the chugging, insistent rhythm, the breakdown with handclaps, the talk of falling stars and starlight and whatnot.

Therefore what we have here is not so much a glam artefact per se, then, but a driving piece of classic rock, and one which fits in surprisingly well.  It's also a Joni Mitchell cover, which is a bit of a surprise, as it's certainly up to rockin' speed here.  My only complaint?  It's a bit anonymous in this company, suffering by association with better suited and realised pieces nearby. 

Which brings us nicely up to...

10. SWEET "Ballroom Blitz"

Or Tia Carrere's best song from "Wayne's World", for people of my ever advancing age...  On a slight tangent, a recent rewatch of said film showed me that the band The Jolly Green Giants can be spotted leaving the stage at the club, actually dressed as the outsized sweetcorn-shilling mascot.

See, who needs new things?  Old things are best.

Anyway: what a tune.  Approaching - but not matching, for what could - the sheer mania of "Crazy Horses" with its tale of a concert audience turning horrendously savage, it has a great combination of shoutability and a feeling of it being very barely controlled itself, making the music a great match for the message.

And what of Tia Carrere?  She managed to piggyback on Lara Croft-mania by playing a suspiciously familiar stereotype of a female action archaeologist in a show called "Relic Hunter", which if you were jobless in the early 2000s you may have seen far too much of on Sky.  If you take anything away from this review let it be this: it's really frustrating when you enjoy a song but have little or nothing to say about it.

So far, nearly all good for disk two so far then; much cause for optimism which I'm sure is well founded.  Goodnight, America!  Great to be back!

Join us next time for...  What?...  Who?...  (sigh).  This won't be a good one.  I don't mind if you skip it.  The one after's got Alvin Stardust though, so don't miss that!

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