We all love a good bizarre side project, and we all have our favourites. Grunge king Mark Lanegan’s team-up with Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell, or maybe Robert Plant going all bluegrass with Alison Kraus. How about Probot, Dave Grohl’s love letter to classic rock?
One man, though, likes to go above and beyond when it comes to new ventures. Mike Patton is best known for his work with Faith No More, but has had enough projects to fill a record label. The most well-known of the lot is Mr Bungle, but that’s doing a disservice to the likes of Fantômas, Tomahawk and Peeping Tom. My favourite of the lot, though, is Lovage.
Get this. Patton teams up with Jennifer Charles, singer of the goth-favourite dark-rock act Elysian Fields. Dan The Automator heads it all up and throws Kid Koala into the mix, and together they make one of the most delightfully sleazy albums ever made. Their only release, called Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, pairs up Patton’s low growl and Charles’ throaty breath-slurs, all over smooth beats and laid-back grooves, a neo-noir love-making story. Hell, it’s the only album I’ve ever heard that attempts to make truck stops into a sexual innuendo, and god damn it, it nearly pulls it off.
But it’s more than just a novelty. It’s a genuinely fantastic album. The backing tracks are excellent, sampling old recordings and films, giving Lovage an almost Portishead-esque vibe. It’s the kind of album you can just listen to and lose yourself in. Don’t believe me? Well, give this a listen – the frickin’ marvellous Stroker Ace:
Unfortunately it was just a one-off: Jennifer Charles went back to Elysian Fields, Mike Patton continued being bloody brilliant and most recently composed the soundtrack to The Place Beyond The Pines. But we’ll always have this one great moment, a tongue-in-cheek masterpiece, proving that great things can come out of unlikely musical team-ups.
I am an unashamed fan of cover versions. My old band used to play an awesome hard rock version of Something Kinda Ooh. In my current bands, we play Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Fight For Your Right, and are working on a cover of Baker Street. One of my favourite gig moments was seeing Nine Inch Nails play Cars with Gary Numan as a guest vocalist.
So, here’s ten amazing cover versions, in no particular order, that you may not have heard.
Number One: The Chauffeur (Duran Duran), covered by Sneaker Pimps.
I bloody love this song. The original is one of the most underrated songs of the 80s, and has, in my opinion, the best lyrics ever written. In spite of all that, I love the Sneaker Pimps version just as much. Atmospheric and layered, it suits Chris Corner perfectly and is a genuinely fantastic song.
Number Two: Hardly Wait (PJ Harvey), covered by Juliette Lewis.
This cover was released on the soundtrack for the oft-forgotten James Cameron-penned Strange Days, a marvellous cyberpunk film starring Ralph Fiennes. Juliette Lewis starts as a wannabe-star and performs two tracks in the movie, shown below. If you can, track down both the film and the soundtrack, as both are fantastic.
Number Three: School (Nirvana), covered by Fear Factory.
I’m not a big fan of Nirvana’s debut album, but School is one song that I absolutely love. So who better to give it a balls-to-the-wall metal cover than Fear Factory? Warning: may cause eardrums to burst through use of double pedal.
Number Four: The Wall Part II (Pink Floyd), covered by Class of ’99.
Another soundtrack song here, from the brilliant sci-fi horror flick The Faculty. Class of ’99 was a brief supergroup made up of Layne Staley, Tom Morello, Stephen Perkins, and Martyn LeNoble. This Pink Floyd cover is as awesome as it sounds.
Number Five: Digital Bath (Deftones), covered by The Mouth of Ghosts.
Love Deftones, and love this cover by London’s The Mouth of Ghosts. They’ve just released When The Sun Sets, a pay-what-you-want EP that I strongly recommend you listen to.
Number Six: Psycho Killer (Talking Heads), covered by Rico.
Rico is one of the hidden gems in my record collection. Two absolutely brilliant records were released by the Scot, who was once described as ‘the bastard child of Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain’, but unfortunately to not enough press and not enough critical acclaim for what they deserved. On his second, Violent Silences, there was this wondrous cover.
Number Seven: The Nurse Who Loved Me (Failure), covered by A Perfect Circle.
I suspect a fair few of you may have heard this – but this is just as much about promoting the original version as the cover. Space-rockers Failure released the it on their 1996 album Fantastic Planet, one of the best albums of that decade. A Perfect Circle then made their own unique version on Thirteenth Step, massively changing the sound. Both are great, though.
Number Eight: Is Your Love Strong Enough? (Bryan Ferry and David Gilmour), covered by How To Destroy Angels.
Two songs, both released for movie soundtracks. Bryan Ferry’s version was for the 80s fantasy epic Legend, whilst the cover recently featured in the David Fincher remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Unfortunately, the limelight was stolen by the equally-wonderful Immigrant Song cover by Karen O and Trent Reznor.
Number Nine: Wicked Game (Chris Isaac), covered by Bassboosa.
Oh hell to the yes. Chris Isaak made one of the most awesomely cool and sexy songs ever, and this cover more than does it justice. Wonderful instrumentation, chilled vibe, beautiful vocals; it’s got it all.
Number Ten: I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges), covered by Emilie Simon AND Space Oddity (David Bowie), covered by Emilie Simon.
Emilie Simon is frickin’ fantastic. I could find her burgling my house and I would give her a hand getting the flat-screen TV out. So, I couldn’t quite separate these two covers. They’re both amazing. So, here you go. It’s a two-fer.
Got any favourite covers? Any I missed out, or should hear? Let me know!