Thursday, August 11, 2016

Everybody Up! 17 - Covers (And Pete Burns) Up The Wazoo

15. ADAM AND THE ANTS "Antmusic"

When one speaks of acts whose music provides a lift to the stoniest of hearts, Adam And The Ants need to be in that conversation.  At present I am taking solace with "Prince Charming" in my darkest times, and whilst that's all well and good for my current situation, this one's a bit more of an upbeat toe-tapper.

This song is a spiritual UK number one, much like Ultravox's aforementioned "Vienna", except that instead of Joe Dolci being the target of our ire, "Antmusic" was kept off the top spot by one John Lennon, whose massively hypocritical, hateful and nauseatingly crass "Imagine" was fired to number one around that time.

This is a fact which, much like the song, makes me want to vomit blood out of sheer rage, but can easily be explained by the timing due to it being just post-Mark Chapman.  Having had the misfortune to want to have a life during the fallout of Princess Diana's death, I know the public loves mawkish sentiment just after the death of a treasured icon, so I can at least recognise the pattern of behaviour.

Er...  Hm, I've got a bit off topic there.  Apologies.  Before I subject everyone to my usual "Republic Now!  Royals Out!" rant, I'll swing back by Mr. Ant and his music.

So this song's bloody good, and like much of their output at the time, should probably be prescribed instead of/alongside Prozac for its sheer feelgood factor.  There is the palpable sense of challenge and danger that I seem to have mentioned quite a lot in recent posts, which definitely helps things along in terms of its personal relatability for me, but overall it's the sheer joy and glee that overarches everything that really marks out this period of Antmusic as a go-to for good times.

16. DEPARTMENT S. "Solid Gold Easy Action"

We'll be closing out disk four with three covers, the first two of which directly hail back to the days of glam, starting with this song originally popularised by T.Rex back in 1972.

This version was released in December 1980 as the B-side to Department S.'s debut single, "Is Vic There?"  I must admit to having had to do some reading about the band as frankly they weren't ringing any bells - in my defence, I would have been six months old when this was released, so I think I can be forgiven for that one - and have discovered a fascinating tale of a 'fake' band got out of hand, the legendary Guns For Hire, and how they segued into this group.  Well worth a read, but I won't nick it for this entry: find it instead here if you'd like.

It's a serviceable cover, close to but not entirely overlapping the original.  I also now want to watch "Department S", the late sixties ITC series from which the band took its name; it looks pretty good, and the episode synopses call "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" to mind, though from the little I have read I'm not sure if the earlier series was meant to be a spoof; in fact it would probably be funnier if it wasn't!

17. BAUHAUS "Ziggy Stardust"

And as night follows day, we seamlessly transition from Bolan to Bowie, and a cover of the (nearly) title track from what is arguably Bowie's most famous album by a classic 4AD goth band.  Dry ice very much akimbo in their usual work, then - and interestingly, it appears that in December 1980 (when Department S.'s "Solid Gold Easy Action" was about, remember?) they released a version of T.Rex's "Telegram Sam" as a single!  Small world, huh?

But we get this one instead, which brought them their highest charting single (number 15 UK, number 13 Ireland, pop-pickers!  Wait...  Has he been Yewtree'd yet?  I may have to withdraw that throwaway catchphrase).  I think the main accusation you can level at this effort is that it's entirely unnecessary; whereas Department S. did put a little of themselves into their effort, it seems like the opposite has happened here, and an attempt has been made to pitch the sound, vocal inflections and playing as close as possible to the original.

Which is, of course, a perfectly valid way of putting a cover version together, and you'll never find me saying otherwise - at worst it just leads to utter disposability, as has unfortunately happened here.  There is no reason for this song to exist outside of its existence itself; you can judge for yourself whether it therefore negates itself, or stands as a worthwhile artefact in its own stead.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure I can decide.

18. DEAD OR ALIVE "That's The Way (I Like It)"

And bringing proceedings to a fittingly perverse ending is this lot with a KC And The Sunshine Band cover because of course it is, why wouldn't it be?

If you've heard Dead Or Alive's most famous offering, the utter classic "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", you know what to expect.  It is, in essence, Pete Burns informing you in no uncertain terms that he's about to have sex with you and that there is little to nothing you can do about it, set to an extremely competent electronic backing with synth horn stabs a-go go.

And there will be horn stabs a-go go, as Pete has already made very clear.  I'm pretty sure the release of these songs counts as a form of foreplay for everyone in the world, and it's the best you're going to get; so just know that he's coming for you at some stage and it's not going to be a relaxing night.  Best just lie back and think of England; it'll at least be one to tell the grandchildren about.

I can't really get tired of Dead Or Alive doing what Dead Or Alive do, so this one gets a thumbs-up from me.  And this disk?  Pretty damn good.  A real tonic after a third disk that was a bit of a struggle, despite having some definite gems on there.  Join us next time for what should be an interesting one for me, and hopefully you - disk five, which drives us through the rest of the eighties in short order into the only bits I can offer any personal historical perspective on - the nineties, perhaps predictably followed by the early 2000s.

I'm pretty hyped for it - I hope you are too!

Join us next time for...  Hang on a minute, the non-italic guy's nicked my usual bit!  Well I shan't go quietly.  How best to respond to this?...  Ah.  Of course.  It's all so obvious.

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