Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Faith Healer

A searing, suitably vicious cover of the old Alex Harvey humdinger "The Faith Healer" can be found on Recoil's third album from 1992, "Bloodline". While the original is a traditional, straight-ahead rock number about the dangers of trusting unquestioningly in false prophets and religious charlatans, Alan Wilder's remake is a fearsome techno-industrial monster that incorporates more than a quotient of additional menace, with the appearance of Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy on vocals. Check out the theatrical, fire-and-brimstone natured promo, with McCarthy doing his best Peter Murphy impersonation.

Exit Music (For a Film)

One of the more innovative reinterpretations of a rock song ever made has to be Brad Mehldau's piano-jazz version of Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)". While the original is a desolate, Gothic-inspired crawl through a dark, dank basement, Mehldau reinvents the minor-key lamentation into an impressionistic, Bill Evans-influenced set piece for piano trio. Check out the stylish black-and-white performance video here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spartacus Love Theme

Bill Evans's version of Alex North's love theme for the Stanley Kubrick gladiator classic "Spartacus", originally found on his remarkable overdubbed solo-piano showcase from 1963, "Conversations With Myself", is a soaring, impressionistic rendition that harks back to the Romantic era-influenced exercises of his seminal Village Vanguard recordings. Starting out with a controlled flurry of related arpeggios, before settling into an unabashedly quixotic groove of carefully measured chords, Evans's take on the "Spartacus Love Theme" displays the legendary harmonic-jazz pianist at his syncopated, polyrhythmic best. Treat yourself to this historic, wonderful recording here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sailing on the Seven Seas

One of the most distinctive commercial numbers in synth-pop veterans OMD's oeuvre, the most recognisable trademark of 1991's "Sailing on the Seven Seas" is its glam-isnpired galumphing cadence, which is overlaid with a smart sprinkling of measured piano arpeggios. While diehard OMD aficionados might not rank it on the same level as confirmed standards like "Enola Gay" and "Souvenir", "Sailing on the Seven Seas" remains an important track in the band's catalogue, serving to firmly condone Andy McCluskey's decision to carry on with the OMD name, after the rest of the band decided to leave the ship in 1988. Check out the surreal but light-hearted video clip for the song.

Monday, August 13, 2007


A wildly hilarious video clip that is built around thematic imagery (car chases, explosions and natty dressing) from cheesy 1970s cop shows, the promo for the Beatie Boys' seminal thrash-rap number "Sabotage" was a huge success for the hip-hop veterans back in 1994. Relying on old school-styled rhyme schemes and traditional word battles, "Sabotage" can be deemed as one of the purer incarnations of the B-Boys' aesthetic, and a genuine highlight of their controversial career.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Barry Williams Show

A scathing rebuke of Jerry Springer-style American talk shows, Peter Gabriel's "The Barry Williams Show" is a guttural, shuffling and rhythmic affair whose musical make-up effectively conveys its vicious, mean-spirited lyrics. While the song might not come close to matching the confirmed-classic status of "In Your Eyes", "Sledgehammer" or "Solsbury Hill", its video clip, directed by a certain Sean Penn, is one of the most striking visual set pieces in Gabriel's oeuvre. Comprising a day in the life of the titular character and the machinations behind his show, the promo gleefully troops out all manner of freaks, and castigates the cynical ways in which certain US TV networks make use of their proclivities for mass-media consumption. Brilliant to no end.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Take Me to the River

Talking Heads in 1978 did an appropriately stiff white-funk version of the Al Green classic "Take Me to the River", which arguably became even more well-known than the original, by virtue of its wide acceptance as a new-wave standard by hipsters and chart watchers alike. Check out this terrific extended live rendition of this monumental plastic-soul number, performed during Talking Heads' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2002.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying

Either truly revelatory or downright cringeworthy, depending on your viewpoint, Sting's 1996 country and western experiment "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" is nonetheless a solid pop song with a hummable melody. Even though it might lack the formidable qualities of earlier standards like "Fortress Around Your Heart" or "Englishman in New York", it still possesses a certain curious cachet that sets it apart from the identikit corporate-rock numbers that were all the rage back in that era. Check out the loopy video clip here, complete with translucent cattle, alien cowboys and a most peculiar Sting haircut.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

She's Lost Control

Constituting what is arguably the purest musical manifestation of the late, lamented Ian Curtis's troubled psyche, the harrowing "She's Lost Control" remains as compelling as ever, more than twenty years after its initial release. Everything about the chilling track is highly redolent of the Joy Division frontman's various afflictions: the brutal death-disco rhythm laid down by Stephen Morris, the jagged guitar riffs unleashed by Bernard Sumner, and most of all, the unearthly high-register bass pulse by Peter Hook. Check out a mind-blowing live performance here, featuring Curtis's infamous and frightening "fly dance".