Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The covers issue II

Maureen Dowd is on Midmorning right now, so in order to stop listening to it and impotently yelling at the radio (FEMINISM IS NOT ALL ABOUT UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS HETEROSEXUAL DATING. STOP IMPLYING THAT IT IS) I'ma just write about the musics instead. Lots of new tunes passing through the Pogo office lately, including a comp. of post-punk 45s (Martha & the Muffins! Snap!) and the Army of Me remixes and covers record, which consists entirely of--wait for it--20 remixes and covers of "Army of Me" by Bjork. That's 69+ minutes of the same song, kittens. And you know what? It's totally effing Great. There's more representation of the industrial genre here than is perhaps, er, appreciated by yr average non-dustry listener, but otherwise it's a tasty chocolate box assortment of bossa nova, electro, country, acapella, accordion, Nintendo, and Klaus Nomi, who surely, surely deserves his own genre.

Other cuddly cocoa covers filtering in:

Peter Schilling -- Major Tom (Leaving Home)
Like Patti Smith's Gloria, not so much a cover as a structural overhaul. You can do a mean down-tempo skank move to it that the Bowie original just doesn't allow. Plus it has one of the most subtly moving, bittersweet choruses ever wrangled, in this or any galaxy. You're sniffling into yr sleeve before you've even finished mocking the synth lines. Dude, could this be any more 1983? (Sobs, wipes eyes). "This is my home/I'm coming home!"

Siouxsie & the Banshees -- Strange Fruit
Don't get me wrong, Through the Looking Gass is the shit, because yes, "Trust in Me" was originally sung by a cartoon snake. And the Sparks and Iggy Pop do-overs rock out. But covering "Strange Fruit" when you're a white British lady, albeit a sensitive and careful one, is inevitably going to bring up questions of ventriloquy and erasure. Does Siouxsie's performance elide or displace Billie Holiday, with whom the original is so associated as to be taken autobiographically, and whose vocal presence haunts the cover specifically because it is so absent? How is it different for Holiday to sing about "black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze" through the instrument of her own black body/voice than it is for Siouxsie to do it with her white one?

Still more queries than answers. Covers issue I available here.

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