Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Careless Whisper

Song: Careless Whisper
Artist: The Gossip
Album: Radio 1. Established 1967

BBC Radio 1 was launched in 1967 aimed at the under-thirty youth market in the U.K. and has for those forty years gave their listeners the most up to date acts of the day. I’ve never listened, but am familiar with Jo Whiley’s Radio 1 show in which acts of the day will perform their tunes live (mostly acoustic) or covers of recent pop hits. Last year saw the release of many of those recordings entitled “Radio 1’s Live Lounge” on two discs which included some fun left-field covers such as Franz Ferdinand’s take on Gwen Stefani’s “What Are You Waiting For?” Keane doing U2’s “With or Without You,” and The Futureheads Kate Bush cover “Hounds of Love,” which helped that band find their audience. Unfortunately excluded from the compilation was Scissor Sisters cabaret take on Franz’s “Take Me Out” and Nelly Furtado’s quiet lush acoustic version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

This month, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the station, they are releasing another two disc set entitled “Radio 1. Established 1967.” They have taken a song from each year the station has been in operation and had a current artist do a take on the song. Kaiser Chiefs start things off with The Move’s 1967 song “Flowers in the Rain” and the song cycle continues with various tracks performed by The Fratellis, Foo Fighters, Kylie Minogue, The Raconteurs, The Fray, and beyond. My favorites include:

Amy Winehouse covering the 1969 Johnny Nash track “Cupid” (made popular here by Sam Cooke)
Robbie Williams take on The Kinks 1970 classic “Lola”
Franz Ferdinand’s cool rock version of Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” from 1977
and Groove Armada’s groovy mix of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” from 1991.

There is actually a ton of fun stuff on the compilation and if you are fan of covers I think it might be the must have release of this year. My hands-down favorite is the Gossip’s take on the George Michael ballad “Careless Whisper” from 1984. The band start it off quiet, with lead Beth Ditto in effect whispering the start of the song only to break loose on the chorus and turn it into a punk rock all-out explosion. It’s amazing.

Actually, with this and their non-ironic take on the Aaliyah jam “Are You That Somebody,” I am advocating the band to do a covers record… I actually think it would be pretty great. Beyond that though, after a successful run on the “True Colors” tour with Cyndi Lauper, I think this band are set for something big. They are getting a ton of press attention, and have really built on their sound moving toward dance rock from straight up indie punk with some great results. They will be a band to watch in the future for sure.


A poor quality video of The Gossip performing the song in Amsterdam

Scissor Sisters performing “Filthy/Gorgeous” on the channel

The Killers doing “Mr. Brightside” acoustic

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