She scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin
What a week, we've had great news about vaccines to combat Covid, Trump has lost the US election even though he and his rabid supporters don't think so and are calling for a recount, a senior adviser to Boris Johnson has quit overnight, and,... wait a minute,... I've got a sense of deja vu here. Didn't all that happen last week as well? Still, even if the news is repeating itself, it means we are one week closer to getting gigs going again, so keep yourselves germ-free until then, wash your hands ten times a day, and all that.
Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away
Who remembers the punk classic from 1978, "Germ Free Adolescents", by X-Ray Spex, nasally sung by the legendary Poly Styrene? They were a great band, and I like the original, but I also like this cover version by Charlie O'Connor, a singer from Cornwall who now lives in Brighton and organises gigs down there. During 2020, Charlie has been putting on online open mic nights.
The cryptic lyric in that song, "Scrub away, the SR way" refers to toothpaste. In September 1955, Gibbs SR toothpaste became the very first product to be advertised on British TV, and some of the black and white clips in Charlie's video are from that same advert. A later Gibbs advert included the slogan "Brush away, the SR way". And for those who really need to know, SR stands for Sodium Ricinoleate, a soapy chemical added to toothpaste to make it foam up in your mouth.
Why, why, why
I would always encourage upcoming bands and artists to include a cover or two in their repertoire, but make your version your own. Add your own style. Don't be a slave to the original. Here is a fantastic cover of the Tom Jones' ballad, "Delilah", performed by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, back in 1973 on The Old Grey Whistle Test. The theatre in this performance is just as important as the sound.
Arf, arf, arf
Here is a really good ukulele cover by Paulina Sinaha of "The only gay eskimo", a song originally by Corky and The Juice Pigs. This video is home made but so effective, clever use of costume and props, and most impressive is that she has done a very simple multi-tracking of her vocals which greatly enriches the sound. And I love the seal. That has to be the best seal ever in a music video.
And in thirty seconds time
Putting your own spin on a cover can make it really memorable, but sometimes it is memorable for the wrong reasons. Have you ever heard William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk), and his cover of Pulp's "Common People"? The performance was massively improved by Joe Jackson playing guitar for him and singing the counter vocal, but it was all turned into a something special by a nameless Spanish-speaking guy who made this hilarious lip-synch and visual parody of the Shatner soundtrack, complete with a masterclass in Captain Kirk-style overacting.
Quite for no reason
In that last video, William Shatner lethargically recited his way through a song, but it can work the other way around too, and you can sing your way through a piece of prose. That is exactly what The Divine Comedy did with Noel Coward's piece, "Marvellous Party". Here they are performing it to a sometimes bemused and possibly shell-shocked audience at an upmarket dinner to commemorate Noel Coward. You have to admire the half-hearted attempt at a standing ovation at the end.
You can buy anything except time
Well actually, that's just what we are doing now, we are buying time until the vaccine goes into the arm and we start returning to normal. We've come this far, Christmas is in the balance and the reindeer are on standby, so hold out just a little longer, take care of yourself, both mind and body, take care of your friends too, and as soon as we can get gigs going again we'll let you know. For sure when it happens it will be a marvellous party.