Halloween’s upon us and you know what that means – a chance to throw up a highly contrived spook-em-up playlist, all in name of rocking goodness. This year’s theme?
Cover versions. Covers that dirge, haunt or creak in their overhauls of the originals. Covers that gone done a massive creep on your front step.
GET UR FREAK ON
Missy Elliott … not what you’d expect from this band but it’s brilliant. And falsetto funny. And the guitar-blowout ending packs more fuzz than a werewolf’s merkin. It’s Eels. Dance to the power E.
I’M NOT IN LOVE
The lushest hit of the 70s? Maybe. Always hated it. The worst air-con blow-dry pop you could imagine – until you grow up a bit, hear how they made it and acknowledge 10CC’s vision and especially Godley & Creme’s experimentalism. You might never love the song but at least you object to it less. Then Tori Amos slides over and … turns it into a stalker’s kill song. It’s a good job she kept the vocal melody because without the safety of that familiar hook, we’d be crying like abandoned pups.
It’s already a bit creepy, and not just because it’s David Essex – check that production and bass, it’s fucking amazing – so perhaps Tortoise don’t have much to do. But we know them better than that. What they do is take Rock On’s already-too-close vibe and pull it even nearer. Add a seedier intro, drop the second-half strings, feel the smoke-stained ghost of Pre-Millennial Tricky.
THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON TV
A-ha. Literally. Top of the pops with perfect cheekbones, who’d want to murder this? Nadja, that’s who. Except they don’t murder it. They unleash their tidal drone and bulldoze the pop out of it, revelling instead in subterranean effluence and dark earth tremors. For something more metal – and half a day longer – sign up to their slowed and stretched Slayer homage, Dead Skin Mask.
We can’t have Halloween without Brooklyn’s gothic sons Type O Negative leering over us (Dead Again fills the ears while writing this). But we’ve already featured Paranoid as the best reworked metal cover of all time in a previous post (link below), so this year let’s have a Type O party with a bitter twist of Hendrix.
Low have a reputation for slow-core intensity and atmos, and Monkey definitely falls into one of their darker holes. How can you up the tension while staying on the original’s underlit road? Get the guy who can interpret a song better than anyone. Get Robert Plant to do it. His Band of Joy collective amplify its seductive burn and yes, it tops the source.
FORWARD TO DEATH
Not a household hit, granted, but this is just too hyperactively oddball not to include. Dead Kennedys music is well suited to this time of year and here, Nomeansno sink their wild prog hardcore chops into it. Except they don’t. Voices only, a cappella. Vaguely unsettling.
Great tune, goes without saying, and there’s something of a shadowy hush about it already. But if you need a beefed-out dragged-down version spooked up with a hypnotic string bend and a damp Louder Than Love vibe … Soundgarden.
THE GREEN MANALISHI
Nothing radical in this arrangement because it’s already slow, voodoo-heavy and verging on a breakdown. Who does it heavy justice? Not Judas Priest. MELVINS. Smell the glue. Then stick around for the last minute of beast-howl disintegration. That’s your Halloween bonus right there.
HURDY GURDY MAN
Let’s finish with a video – because it’s as wrong as any horror you’ll see this week. Nice one, buttholes.
For a few more Hallo-weeny playlists, try sticking these in your bag of tricks. Or treats…
And for extra good measure, Type O Negative’s October Rust. Happy-ish?