Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Best Cover Band You've Never Heard Of

I'm often prone to hyperbole, but these guys are probably my favourite cover discovery of the year. I know you've never heard of them because otherwise you would have told me about them already, eh? Somehow I came across this Russian group while looking for a cover of the Dire Straits' Money for Nothing and stumbled upon a treasure trove of brilliant cover songs ranging from Elvis to Bowie to Zeppelin.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the PoZitive Orchestra!

The self-described idea behind the PoZitive Orchestra is combining the classic string quartet sound with Latin guitar rhythms and "vocal hooliganism". Though most of their official site's Russian translation makes only slightly more sense than reading the back of a Chinese bootlegged DVD, this part was surprisingly clear:

"The result is a something that hardly falls under the definition of «a cover version», rather, it might be called: «resaykl version», and the team «PoZitive Orchestra» respectively: «resaykl group»."

Even though the key word "resaykl" didn't make it through the translator, try to pronouncing it phonetically and a lightbulb will go on in your head.... recycle, or something close to that. They consider themselves as recyclers rather than coverers, which is about the same semantically as Tim Burton's re-imaginings instead of remakes, but I understand the desire to escape the trappings of a "cover band" label. A "cover band" implies some sort of bar band or tribute act (of which there are countless) playing rote recreations of another's work, whereas these guys are definitely one of a kind. To each and every cover, the PoZitive Orchestra bring original guitar and string arrangements that consistently defy expectation combined with heavily accented lead vocals that occasionally veer into Elvis territory. They're so fun to listen to that I'm a fan of the cover songs I've never even heard of. Nine of these covers are freely available directly from their site and I came across three more in my google travels. A veritable covers feast! They have no CD that I know of, but the minute they do I'll be all over it.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond [originally by Pink Floyd]
This cover is absolutely brilliant, my favourite of the bunch. Reinvents this as a tango and makes it work, still capturing the bittersweet feelings of regret that permeate the original. Two-thirds of the way through it takes an unexpected yet somehow natural turn, transforming into something completely different. A must listen!

Money For Nothing [originally by Dire Straits]

The Girl From Ipanema [originally by Antonio Carlos Jobim]

Fragile [originally by Sting]

All Shook Up [originally by Elvis Presley]

Black Dog [originally by Led Zeppelin]
Is it my imagination or does he sing "one-legged woman ain't got no soul"? Not many bands would throw some Hava Nagila into a Zeppelin cover.

Venus [originally by The Shocking Blue]

How Insensitive [originally by Antonio Carlos Jobim]

The Man Who Sold the World [originally by David Bowie]

Corcovado [originally by Antonio Carlos Jobim]

I Concentrate on You [originally by Cole Porter]

Help! [originally by The Beatles]
Covering the Beatles is generally a recipe for disaster, but they've manage to produce one of those rare Beatles covers worth repeat listens. Love the string section shout-out to Cream near the end too.

If Google Translate is up to snuff, all band photos used here are by Michael Strizhevskim.

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in the US. Hope everyone has a fun and safe weekend. Up here it's business as usual, since we celebrated our Thanksgiving more than a month ago. Wikipedia has some interesting laptop reading about the hows and whys of our staggered holidays.


Casey said...

That was definitely cool. What a great find. Thanks for sharing!

DDay said...

Wow. Great find! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Nice find! Quite an unusual variety of songs

Anonymous said...

grande musique des frissons.bravo.

HowMarvellous said...

love 'em - thanks

HowMarvellous said...

Hi again, I found "I'm Bad" - Michael Jackson at

and "Smoke on the Water" - Deep Purple at

Fongolia said...

You are marvelous! That made my day, thanks!

HowMarvellous said...

aww thanks. There are two more out there, but only from a torrent of the whole 16

After Dark & the Show must go on..
on a Russian torrent site here

I did find what seems to bethe artwork for the album - the first four items in the gallery.

Fongolia said...

You're even more awesome now. I totally fumbled my way through registration at that Russian site and I'm downloading it right now. Gotta have that Queen cover!

HowMarvellous said...

ah good, I tried the torrent earlier after the same fumbling & got no seeds/peers at all; must say I didn't recognise the song titles.

It can't be the PoZitive orch who complained about the copyright on the Jobim song, surely? - or they'd a blitzed the others too, right?

Fongolia said...

I must have fluked out with timing. When I tried there were 3 seeds, now there are none.

I doubt it was the Poz-Or (I could be wrong), but possibly whatever company has the rights to that Ipanema song whether it was a cover song or not. My previous run-in with troubles was for an original song by an indie artist who is not on any label and he was pretty miffed they took down his song, so I haven't really seen any pattern to what gets the boot.

Anonymous said...

You can find the PoZitive Girl that makes men go Aaaahhh here.