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Under The Covers. Seductive sounds for a late, late night As heard on Overnights with Rod Quinn


Rod Quinn and I met as guests presenting a 702 Evenings ‘themed’ music segment after which he invited me to do a similar regular music spot on Overnights. Under The Covers is drawn from one of those segments and features acoustic performances of some of the finest popular songs written in the last few decades sung and played by the famous and infamous.

Musicians have re-interpreted each other’s work since the beginning of musical history. Under the Covers brings together an international roster of pop, jazz, classical and country artists making these songs their own, stamping them with their personalities. The performances are predominantly Australian, with women making a strong showing, mostly taking on material famously sung by men.

A secondary ‘late night’ theme recurs throughout with titles such as ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ and ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, with ‘Dream Brother’ and ‘Killing Moon’ adding a ‘witching hour’ atmosphere only heightened by the spooky ‘Strange Brew’. Seductive sounds, easy on the ear but not the soundtrack to a slow elevator ride; this is a musical journey into the wee hours, a magical mystery tour, unplugged for your listening pleasure… So get comfortable… under the covers.

Peter Timmerman (ABC Sound Librarian)

Track listing

1. Shelby Lynne - I Only Want To Be With You
2. Nouvelle Vague - The Killing Moon
3. Ryan Adams - Wonderwall
4. Claudia Brücken & Andrew Poppy - Running Up That Hill
5. Elixir - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
6. Taxiride - Helplessly Hoping
7. Julie O’Hara Sextet - Walking On The Moon
8. Ed Kuepper - If I Were A Carpenter
9. Saffire “The Australian Guitar Quartet”- Highway Star
10. Susanna And The Magical Orchestra - It’s A Long Way To The Top
11. Natalie D-Napoleon - You Shook Me All Night Long
12. The Flying Pickets - Who’s That Girl
13. Jose Feliciano - Light My Fire
14. Ingrid James - Strange Brew
15. Matt Tonks - Dream Brother
16. James Cruickshank - Pretty In Pink
17. Angie Hart - There’s A Light That Never Goes Out
18. Cat Power - (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
19. Darren Hanlon - Don’t Stop

The Songs

1. I Only Want To Be With You (Dusty Springfield) – Shelby Lynne
She sings confidently of love, having no need to shout it from the roof-tops, a far cry from Dusty’s powerhouse style. Beautifully produced by Phil Ramone with a warm and natural sound, Shelby could be Dusty reminiscing in middle-age, quietly content but with a fire still smoking in those husky overtones.

2. The Killing Moon (Echo & the Bunnymen) – Nouvelle Vague
French cover specialists Nouvelle Vague give a fey reading of Echo & the Bunnymen’s ‘Killing Moon’ performing it as a twisted but tantalising waltz. The fairground atmosphere it creates is unsettling, the dream-like quality of the vocals masking a potential nightmare. Accordion and vibraphone abound.

3. Wonderwall (Oasis) – Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams records for Lost Highway, seemingly from where this song originates. One can imagine it emanating from a car-radio at nightfall on a lonely Arizona byway or the interstate running through the wilds of Wyoming. The song fades in with a picked guitar, the treated vocals like the desolate cry of the coyote, and fades out with the jangle of a distant piano. Haunting…

4. Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush) – Claudia Brücken + Andrew Poppy
Turbulent piano opens the contribution of former Propaganda lead singer Claudia Brucken. Her heartfelt vocal fills the spaces left by Andrew Poppy’s occasionally angular ivories, coming together at points with a beautiful intensity, the dynamics outshining the Kate Bush original.

5. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John) – Elixir
One of Elton and Bernie’s finest moments caught here by the beguiling vocals and virtuosic guitars of Elixir. Katie Noonan coos opera, folk and jazz fused over a swinging but understated 5/4 rhythm. The boys let Katie hold focus but sneak in a tasteful solo while she catches her breath. A stand-out track.

6. Helplessly Hoping (Crosby Stills & Nash) – Taxiride
Taxiride take up their acoustic guitars and exploit a talent for 4-part harmony, one-upping the vocals of Crosby Stills & Nash. While it isn’t too far removed from the original, it takes the late 60s California sound a little south of the border with some tasteful Latin percussion.

7. Walking On the Moon (The Police) – Julie O’Hara Sextet
Julie O’Hara’s stark uninflected vocal has an almost child-like quality portraying love as a game while substituted chords evoke its uncertainty. Where Sting bounces reggae, Julie swings jazz with the help of her sextet who also produce lovely solos of trumpet and piano.

8. If I Was a Carpenter (Tim Hardin) – Ed Kuepper
Is it the tunings or just extra chords? Even this hoary old chestnut, old-fashioned and dated in sentiment is definitively Ed Kuepper, as he and trusty side-kick at the time, drummer Mark Dawson do little with it except play from the heart. What more could you ask? Sparse and atmospheric.

9. Highway Star (Deep Purple) – Saffire
A few songs on this album are among my favourites and so being sacred, command a worthy re-interpretation. One such entry is ‘Highway Star’, a quartet of driving guitars handling every bend with aplomb in an arrangement fitted with all the best parts. High performance.

10. Long Way To the Top (AC/DC) – Susanna and the Magical Orchestra
An unusually sombre addition, the dirge-like opening chords of a lone harpsichord create palpable tension with the listless but measured vocals, then blossom majestically into the chorus. The delivery belies the lyrical content though maybe it reflects the weary soul of the struggling musician, flipping the original’s bravado and determination. Susanna and Morten hail from Norway.

11. You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC) – Natalie D-Napoleon
Local girl making good in L.A. Natalie D-Napoleon revs up with part 2 of an AC/DC doubleplay, this time from the post-Bon era. Acoustic guitars with country-rock stylings topped off with a searing fiddle solo open the second half of the program.

12. Who’s That Girl (Eurythmics) – The Flying Pickets
The boys get their own back on this one but it takes a bunch of them as the Flying Pickets try to match the prowess of Annie Lennox. A cappella groups I love, and this one had a humorous edge that made them a joy to see in live performance. The origin of the human beat-box perhaps?

13. Light My Fire (The Doors) – Jose Feliciano
If describing a song as ‘burning with a smouldering passion’ is a cliché then this must be its origin. Recorded over 40 years ago when great songs were covered almost as soon as they hit the airwaves, its languid intensity has as much impact as the original and still resonates today.

14. Strange Brew (Cream) – Ingrid James & John Reeves
Possibly my top pick of this collection is another favourite song in Cream’s classic ‘Strange Brew’. Ingrid’s vocal caresses and cajoles over a sinister Radiohead-like piano arrangement interrupted only by Reeves’ solo which echoes Bill Evans and Monk. An intoxicating potion.

15. Dream Brother (Jeff Buckley) – Matt Tonks
The plucking of Matt Tonks’ dobro is even more evocative of the Middle East than the original. Perhaps it’s the percussive accompaniment of darabuka or something similar. Yet another favourite song done justice by Matt’s ‘creamy’ vocal almost channelling the late great Jeff.

16. Pretty in Pink (The Psychedelic Furs) – James Cruickshank
Since the demise of the Cruel Sea, James has been working with the likes of Gyan and the Kill Devil Hills and has released 3 solo albums. With his high register vocals and picked ukulele ‘Pretty in Pink’ is achingly poignant. The track has an interesting texture with cello and rhythmic accompaniment of mouth drum. James also pioneers the return of the whistling solo.

17. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths) – Angie Hart
Former Frente front-woman and current ABC label darling Angie Hart substitutes Morrissey’s Manc with Melbourne, and with an elegant piano and string quartet arrangement, she beautifully captures the pathos of the Smiths’ ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’. The sound quality is exemplary.

18. Satisfaction (Rolling Stones) – Cat Power
Cat Power has successfully de-constructed the famed Glimmer Twins composition, re-harmonising the verse and excising the chorus to create something almost unrecognisable. With her throwaway vocal lines it suggests more that she has had enough, even too much. The urgency is maintained by the perpetual cycling of the new chord progression. Re-interpretation at its most extreme.

19. Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac) – Darren Hanlon
Appropriately Darren Hanlon recommends we “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”, his quirky talents ending the album on an optimistic note. Taken from triple j’s Like a Version it is a spontaneous performance capped by the somewhat eccentric and yet perfect choice of banjo as accompaniment.

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