Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Soon is Now?

Fong Songs, now reporting to you live from sunny Vancouver, British Columbia. That's right, sunny. Notoriously known for its "rainy day depression" in the winter months, it's been surprisingly nice the past few days. I moved in Sunday and have been settling in nicely, thank you.

At the behest of a friend in the UK, I am to do an all-Smiths cover post. This poses a bit of a problem since the only Smiths song I know is How Soon is Now?. But I'm open to a challenge, especially when there's Led Zeppelin bribery involved. Instead of running out and searching for covers of songs I don't know, I figured I'd scour my own iTunes collection and see if I happened to have Smiths covers unbeknownst to me. Surprisingly, I had a few so here they are, plus the inevitable glut of How Soon is Now? covers.

Death Cab for Cutie - This Charming Man [originally by The Smiths]
I always feel that there's pressure within the blogosphere that I'm supposed to actually like Death Cab for Cutie. Or I often come across Ben Gibbard covers that are supposedly amazing. I do like a couple of their songs, but I'm generally hit by a mighty wave of indifference when faced with their music. I've listened to them, seen them live, and remain open to convincing.

Puppini Sisters - Panic [originally by Morrissey]
I have never heard the original, so Morrissey fans will have to weigh in themselves on this cover. The Puppini Sisters are Andrews Sisters revival cover band, sort of. They take the doo-be-doo harmonized singing of the 30's/40's and revamp modern songs, plus throw in a few originals. According to their official website, founding member Marcella Puppini was inspired to create the group after seeing the Triplets of Belleville (nice!). I first heard of them via a particularly swinging cover of Heart of Glass from last year's Betcha Bottom Dollar. Their latest album The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo just came out in the last month or two, depending where you live. Both albums are available on Amazon and are worth a pick-up. While the arrangements and music are great, my only beef with them is that several of their cover choices are borderline cover clichés: I Will Survive, Spooky, Walk Like an Egyptian, Heart of Glass, and even their "offbeat" selection of Beyoncé's Crazy in Love. Dear god, I'm becoming a cover snob! That said, there's nothing wrong with the covers themselves and I really look forward to future releases from the Puppini Sisters.

Nouvelle Vague - Sweet & Tender Hooligan [originally by The Smiths]
Nouvelle Vague and the Puppini Sisters have a similar approach to cover songs: take a distinct musical style (in this case, bossa nova) and apply to a vastly dissimilar genre. As evident by their name, which is New Wave en français, they tackle new wave songs including Heart of Glass. See? Cover cliché. Again, I know not the original.

The Killers - Why Don't You Find Out for Yourself [originally by Morrissey]
I think this is a good cover... but I've never heard any Morrissey in my life so I can't rightly say.

t.A.T.u. - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
In a March 2007 issue of Uncut, Johnny Marr said "t.A.T.u.'s version was just silly. Plastic music." That basically sums it up. It's practically the exact same song, but with dual female lead vocals. Not terrible but kinda pointless, as far as covers go.

Everclear - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
A rock version, fairly standard. Everclear has a couple songs that I really like, but their cover songs are generally pretty blah (Santa Baby excepted).

Quicksand - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
Hard rock version.

Love Spit Love - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
If you listen to 5 versions of How Soon is Now? in a row they all start to sound the same, adhering pretty closely to the original and this one is no exception. Though apparently this may be the most well known cover having been the theme song to the TV show Charmed (shiver.).

Snake River Conspiracy - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
This band is the only one to actually do something interesting with the song. As it starts I'm thinking "Here we go again, carbon copy cover", then a strange thing happens at the 47-second mark: as the chorus begins, all the instruments cut out leaving the female lead and a decidedly euphoric string arrangement. I dig it. The next time 'round, it ups the ante with a heavenly choir accompanying "Oh shut your mouth, how can you say I go about things the wrong way?" This one wins the cover challenge hands down.

Noel Gallagher & Johnny Marr - Tomorrow Never Knows (live) [originally by the Beatles]
And we end with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joining Noel Gallagher for a John Lennon tribute night.

Dear UK friend, I hope this is to your liking.


Tanner said...

Treepeople did a good cover of Big Mouth Strikes Again

boyhowdy said...

I have a Decemberist's cover of Morrisey's "I've Changed my Plea To Guilty" and a pretty cool Mojo Nixon cover of Girlfriend in a Coma (my absolutely favorite Smiths song). And TWO versions of Last Night I Dreamt somebody loved me -- both Ether Aura (loud and rockin') and The Thrills (mellow and piano-laden).

Need 'em? Want me to write a follow-up post for 'em?

boyhowdy said...

Oh! And a live-on-radio version of Tony Hawk doing "Girlfriend in a coma" to the tune of Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

Where the heck do I get all this stuff?

Fongolia said...

Well, like I said I don't know any Morrissey or Smiths songs in the first place. But that Tony Hawk "Girl in a Coma"/Tiptoe Through the Tulips sounds way too crazy NOT to be heard. If you want to do a sequel post, that sounds good to me and I'm sure my friend would appreciate it. Plus, I'm sure you'd be more qualified to actually talk about The Smiths or Morrissey themselves. :)

earthgoesaround said...

More Smith covers here