Sunday, 22 February 2015

No. 18 Arcwelder - I Am The Walrus/Sign Of The Times

The cover version; so often a feature of the seven inch single, often as a b-side offering. They can be great, as we shall no doubt see as this project unfolds. But they can also be terrible (there's certain to be some of those in the mix too). I have spent many hours, often in the company of my good friend and fellow anorak @pomfob, trying to shortlist favourite cover versions and I wonder if there aren't certain ingredients for a good cover; don't sound too much like the original, don't think playing it faster is in itself entertaining, (though it might be) etc. It's probably also a good idea to avoid taking on songs that are broadly agreed to be classics, and therefore pretty hard to improve upon.

On that note, the next single is Arcwelder's brave double cover of The Beatles' I Am The Walrus and Prince's Sign Of The Times (I believe its actually Sign O' The Times, which always makes me think it's sung by pirates). Sadly, neither tune seems to exist on the interweb, so you'll have to take my word that the version of Beatles' tune is better than the Oasis one and that the version of Sign O' The Times (arrrr) is vastly preferable to the Muse one (but then, so is sticking rusty needles in your soft, fleshy parts).

Thursday, 12 February 2015

No. 17 Arcwelder - Favor

It hasn't been particularly apparent from the first sixteen selections, but I have an abiding fondness for US alternative rock. Basically, if it featured in Michael Azerrad's brilliant, essential Our Band Could Save Your Life, then I'll probably be willing to champion it. So don't be too surprised if there's a fair amount of tunes like this one in the posts that follow.

Arcwelder may need an introduction; they emerged from Minneapolis at the tail end of the 1980s (they were originally called Tilt-a-whirl until the company that makes the tilt-a-whirl sued them). They released a half-dozen albums between 1990 and 1999 (I have all but the hard-to-find first) and its fair to say they never achieved massive commercial success (though they never really sought it either).

Favor was their 'hit' - it attracted the attention on Stereolab's Duophonic label and they released it as a one-off single - both Favour and the equally fine b-side, Plastic are culled from the band's second album, Jacket Made In Canada. It also made it into the 1992 Festive 50, reaching number 32. It is a fine piece of post-Hüsker Dü noise-pop, clocking in at well under three minutes. Give it a listen, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 9 February 2015

No. 16 Arctic Monkeys - Matador/Da Frame 2R

My final Arctic Monkeys 7" single was a limited run (1,000 copies no less) white vinyl, with 2 tracks originally released in Japan but not in the UK, at around the time of Favourite Worst Nightmare. Neither track is exactly a classic; Da Frame 2R sounds like it may be an older song that wouldn't have made it on to Whatever People Say... and Matador is a largely forgettable, largely instrumental offering. Still, Domino did throw in a couple of stickers, which was nice.

I've never warmed to the Arctic Monkeys later offerings to be honest. There seems to have been a law of diminishing returns, that set in pretty rapidly. Perhaps it's hard to write authentically gritty songs about everyday life in South Yorkshire when your living in a Manhattan apartment with your model girlfriend. I'm aware that there is the case made that AM, the most recent album, is a return to form of sorts. but the whole tax avoidance thing has left me feeling distinctly unbothered.

Little known fact; the drummer's dad is a regular at my local Parkrun - I only worked this out because he wears an Arctic Monkeys hat in the colder months.