Cover Versions, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

Led Zeppelin. Lionel Richie and Buddy Holly. My 6 Degrees of Separation.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Not only the words of the most famous golfer on the planet, also the words of me, the laziest blogger on the planet. It’s been over a month since my last post. I don’t really know where the time’s gone, but since that last post I’ve managed to turn 40, see the Trashcan Sinatras live 3 times (and it would’ve been 4 if I hadn’t been car shopping) and developed an unhealthy addiction to The Beatles Rockband on the Wii. So, time put to good use then. But I need to get back in the groove. I’ve got lots of blogging to do and seemingly not enough time to do it. So tonight I’m giving you 4 tracks – 3 obscurios and a Buddy Holly-related stone-cold rock n roll classic (more of that later).

First up, Alex Chilton‘s fantastic swing-jazz acoustic version of My Baby Just Cares For Me. If I was good enough on the guitar, this song would be my New Year party piece. Released in 1994, My Baby… found it’s way onto the record racks via Alex’s ‘Cliches‘ album, a vastly under-rated album of covers of standards that sold just less than zilch (Rod Stewart hit paydirt with a similar set of songs a few years later. Tssk.) As always, Chilton’s guitar playing on the album is to the fore. Soulful, jazzy and unpretentious, but flashy as fuck when he wants to be. Seek it out.

I’ve written a few bits ‘n pieces about Blondie before, but I don’t think I’ve posted this track. It’s the mega-rare French vocal version of Sunday Girl. Debbie Harry! Singing in French! Are you sitting down? It made me go weak at the knees. Beware!

Next up, a screamin’ and a hollerrin’ Little Richard pounding the Stones Brown Sugar into submission. High of pompadour and high of camp, I’m sure he sings ‘hear him screaming just about midnight’ at one point, making it more ambiguous and less about the black girls that Mick Jagger sang about. SuBO and your advisers take note, this is how a Rolling Stones cover should sound.

I’ve kept the best till last. I Fought The Law is better known in it’s incarnation as the all-out sonic assault on the ears by yer Clash, but you knew that already. You probably also know that the original was recorded in 1959 by a post-Buddy Holly Crickets, with Sonny Curtis on vocals. The Bobby Fuller Four recorded the best known of these early versions in 1965, and its this version that provided The Clash with the blueprint for their track. Listen out for the drum break at the ‘robbin’ people with a six gun’ bit if you don’t believe me. Apparently it’s none other then Barry White in pre Walrus Of Love days providing that very drum break, even if he didn’t make the group shot for the album sleeve above. Alex James from Blur said it on Radio 6 a few months ago and it’s a fact (?) that’s stuck with me since.

The reason I’ve included the Bobby Fuller track is purely for the crass excuse to name drop. After one of those Trashcan’s shows I mentioned, I was introduced to their new bass player, Frank Divanna. A fantastic musician who plays the bass like he’s wrestling a 12 foot long python, he regailed me with tales of session work with Lionel Richie, who had made for him a customised set of on stage ear pieces, presumably so that when Lionel sang ‘Hello…’, Frank could actually hear him say those words. (Laugh now.) He told me about the session work he does with any number of established musicians (Pearl Jam) as well as up and coming artists. And he told me about the project he’s working on with Tracy Bonham, daughter of Led Zep sticksman John Bonham. Apparently her house is full of original Zeppelin equipment, artifacts and the likes, but Frank seemed quite blase about this fact. Not so the next part. Recording a track, Tracy said that the song needed some dobro guitar on it and handed him this exquisite old instrument. “Be careful with that,” she said. “It was my dad’s…..and it belonged to Buddy Holly before him.” (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I’ve shook the hand of someone who’s held Buddy Holly’s guitar. That makes me part of rock ‘n roll’s true bloodline, surely?


5 thoughts on “Led Zeppelin. Lionel Richie and Buddy Holly. My 6 Degrees of Separation.”

  1. Very Cool!! I felt the same way when I shook the hands of Victor Spinetti and John Junkin (Shake in Hard Day’s Night).. I shook the hands that shook the hands and were friends of the Beatles!!

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