Friday, August 31, 2007

Dark Side of La Lune

For the record, the lunar eclipse was not the spectacular astronomical event I was hoping for. Determined to make the most of it, I stuffed my pockets with munchies, grabbed a blanket, sat back in a lawn chair, plugged in my iPod, and cranked up some Pink Floyd. Spoiled by Mel Gibson and Tintin (Prisoners of the Sun!), I was under the false impression that this eclipse would be over in a few minutes and I could quickly go back inside for some hot chocolate. The folly of my plan soon became apparent when by the end of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the Earth's shadow had barely started to cover the moon's surface yet the moon itself had moved completely out of view behind the neighbour's house. So I was forced to pack up the lawn chair and go stand across the street for the better part of an hour. It's a VERY slow process. Every 5 minutes I'd look up, squint, and think to myself "Mmmm, the shadow's covering a little more...". Let me tell you, standing in the park across the street at 3 in the morning with Roger Waters singing "the lunatic is on the grass" brings new unintended meaning to Brain Damage. I had a pair of mid-grade binoculars and the night was clear, so at the very least I had an good view (if it had been more impressive). By the time the moon had been almost completely covered, I had to admit there was a slightly reddish hue.

But judging from reaction to the lunar eclipse, I just happened to be in the wrong part of the world. I've seen some incredible pictures and I was wondering "What?!? Were we even witnessing the same event?"

Here are a bunch of Pink Floyd covers that were on the playlist that night:

Easy Star All-Stars - Brain Damage
From a whole reggae-themed cover album called Dub Side of the Moon.

Velvet Revolver - Money
Put up your hands if you predicted Velvet Revolver would still be intact after 5 years... yeah, I didn't think so either.

The Shins - Breathe (live in Amsterdam)
Ever since I heard the Shins had performed this cover live, I've been looking for a version that wasn't a truncated youTube clip. But there was seemingly nothing until a couple weeks ago I found this from an Amsterdam concert. The sound quality is stellar and sounds professionally recorded. In fact, I thought it was an elaborate hoax by a Pink Floyd tribute band (the ID tag was also mislabeled live in Los Angeles). As if to allay my fears, the song ends with a band member yelling "Hey Amsterdam! So, we're the Shins!". Their acoustic version of Breathe appears on the BBC compilation album The Saturday Sessions, which features several other covers too.

Open Door - Breathe
The Shins cover may be making the blog rounds lately, but this groovy electro-jazz cover from 2002 by the band Open Door is more daring... and funky.

Michael Armstrong - Speak to Me/Breathe
From the Rockabye Baby! series of classic rock lullaby albums... gee, why did it not surprise me to learn that this is released by the same people who put out the Pickin' On albums? Or that they're literally churning these out "one or two albums every three weeks". Even the brains behind the whole concept does not seem entirely convinced of the value of the albums. But that doesn't mean they're all out terrible. In fact, I've been listening to the Led Zeppelin one lately and you have to at least admire their atypical song choices. And who wouldn't want to brainwash their young 'uns with classic rock?

Foo Fighters featuring Brian May - Have a Cigar
Was anyone else blown away to learn Brian May finished his PhD this summer with a thesis entitled "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud"?!? Thank god he abandoned his astrophysics studies 30 years ago or else we would have never had the greatness that was Queen. The less we say about post-Mercury Queen the better... but otherwise have a cigar, Dr. May!

Sarah Slean - Us and Them
Whenever I post Pink Floyd covers, I'm compelled to grab one from the Pink Floyd Redux album, which features Canadian female artists covering Pink Floyd. There's only one scathing review on ("If I were to poop on a Floyd cd and try to play it, this would be the sound it makes.") and I think that's unfairly harsh. I saw Sarah Slean at the Calgary Folk Fest and this cover of an underrated Pink Floyd number is a departure from her cabaret influenced pop songs.

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