Artist: Tortoise & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Title: The Brave & The Bold
Format: Single LP
Catalogue Number: WIGLP167
Year of Release: 2006
A1 Cravo É Canela (3:09)
A2 Thunder Road (6:28)
A3 It's Expected I'm Gone (3:21)
A4 Daniel (4:59)
A5 Love Is Love (3:31)
B1 Pancho (3:13)
B2 That's Pep! (2:41)
B3 Some Say (I Got Devil) (3:33)
B4 Cavalry Cross (5:08)
B5 On My Own (3:41)
As the Notorious BIG so very nearly said, mo' collaborations, mo' cover versions.
And I have a confession to make before we begin. I don't know how extraordinary this confession is, or how it affects any perceived musical credibility I like to believe I have, but here goes - until this week, when the review of this album came up, I had not heard a single one of the originals of the songs covered on this album.
Being unfamiliar with the works of Melanie Safka (B3) is probably no great crime, but to have such a complete lack of awareness of Devo, Bruce Springsteen or Elton John is surely hard to believe. How can I have gone through life, in a world where music of indifferent quality bombards you constantly, and not heard Elton's dewy-eyed cheese-fest Daniel?
The Boss's Thunder Road is apparently a great driving anthem, which might explain why I've missed it as I don't drive, but I would hazard a guess that 99% of his (or indeed each artists') back catalogue is a complete mystery to me. I remember as a child watching a black and white video for Streets of Philadelphia (I say child, I must have been 16) and I've got an mp3 of Ballboy's cover version of Born In The USA.
My dad had an Elton John cassette album that was on heavy rotation at home (along with Tina Turner's risible Foreign Affair and Paul Simon's Graceland) which I'm guessing was Sleeping With The Past, being roughly contiguous, but unlike the Paul Simon album (which is so deeply ingrained in my memory that I could probably do you a quick run-through if you have 43 minutes to spare) the only thing I can recall of the big bewigged Disney-whore's work is a few lines of Sacrifice.
And I've never got Devo. I now they're meant to be some great innovative and influential band, but what I've heard doesn't grab me, so I've just kind of ignored them. And Don Williams! I love a bit of cheesy country 'n' western, how come I haven't heard Pancho? It's a great song, and well covered here.
The unfortunate thing about this record is that it's hard to see its appeal beyond being a curio. As you'll see in the table below (and I hope this table comes out a bit better than the last one I attempted, in order to describe the lazy remix work of Jon Carter) not many of the songs bear resemblance to the past work of either artist. I tracked down the originals of each track in each case, except the first one, just to be sure. And like a good remix, a good cover should be reminiscent of the original, but with the artist's own stamp on it - in some instances bonus points were awarded for (perceived, if not actual) irony of choice.
|Track||Like Tortoise?||Like BPB?||Good Cover?|
Which, by my reckoning, makes Daniel the winner (were this Eurovision), followed by Pancho. From my notes Cravo É Canela got half a point for some vibraphone action at the end, It's Expected I'm Gone had some odd guitar solos that you just don't expect from Tortiose, and Pancho's unadorned vocal scored it the highest like-BPB rating. Highest Tortoise rating was because of the looped noises that were a bit like something off Millions Now Living Will Never Die. As stated, I was unable to find an original of A1, so cannot give score it in terms of being a good cover version or not.