Wednesday, October 31

The delicate art of covers

First time I heard about Jonathan was when I was attending a John Cale concert in '75. Cale was covering "Pablo Picasso" and I thought "this is great, I have to find out about Jonathan Richman". Jon Cale, helped by Chris spedding on guitar, had delivered a great rendition of that song .

Covers are not an easy art, and I would say as for Jonathan it is even more "risqué", you have to be tuned to the man's mind to be able to cover his songs correctly. We all remember the embarrassing "Pablo Picasso" which Bowie did a couple of years ago.

The easiest way obviously is to emphasize the Velvet Underground component which is always present in Jonathan's influences. Look for instance at this cover of "She cracked" by a French band, the dum dum boys.

It is right to the point, though it is probably the most velvetish song from the Modern Lovers. Today the bass player is administrating a web group dedicated to the Flamin Groovies and happens to be a friend of mine.

Do you remember Ben from B for Brontosaurus (see interview #9 )? When interviewing him, I had the feeling this young chap had understood a lot about Jonathan. Now look at this cover of "I'm a little dinosaur", just pure Jonathan spirit, I love it.


There is the camp approach which can be quite interesting too, just watch this you will not believe it, a transvestite backed up by the Histrionics and covering "I'm straight". Jonathan visits cabaret, the drummer and the guitar player seem to really enjoy themselves and are the best part of the show.


I will conclude with "Pablo Picasso" performed unplugged by Iggy Pop, and this is a great set . Iggy cannot resist to move from Pablo to Paloma Picasso ... Again a winner cover.

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