Archive for May, 2011

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #47: Running Up That Hill by Placebo

May 28th, 2011 by Reinder

I'm winding down these series by finally featuring the Kate Bush covers that were big successes in their own right, because I want to spend less time YouTube-surfing and more time working on my art. Which is what I did today, and I almost forgot to actually write a blog post featuring Placebo's version of 'Running Up That Hill'. So, here it is, and now I'm going back to working on art.

OK... OK, I'll actually say something about it. It sounds like a Placebo song. It's neither a slavish imitation of Kate's sound nor a generic solo cover with acoustic guitar or piano. It's good if you're into this sort of thing; I'm not, but I have to commend this group for making this, the most-covered Kate Bush song, their own.

Curious Photoshop/Mac/WiFi behaviour

May 27th, 2011 by Reinder

One for the Mac-heads in the audience.

I've been trying to cut distractions while working on comics, which means that I turn off the WiFi on my Macbook now. However, this doesn't work as well as it should, because the following behaviour occurs:

  • If I switch off WiFi (AirPort) and then fire up Photoshop CS 4/Mac, Photoshop takes forever to start, and so does Adobe Bridge for that matter. In fact, both apps become unresponsive and have to be killed using the Force Stop feature.
  • If I fire up Photoshop while WiFi is on and then turn off WiFi, I have no problems until I try to save a file. Then Photoshop becomes unresponsive for minutes on end, and I can either try to wait it out or switch on WiFi again, after which Photoshop becomes active again and finishes saving the file quickly. I don't think I've ever succesfully waited it out since I started noticing the problem - I have stuff to do, after all.
  • If I reboot the Macbook while WiFi is off, I have no problems, everything works as it should, and I get a few hours of distraction-free Photoshopping.

Actions taken: I have checked my Photoshop preferences and turned off Version Cue, as that is no longer operational anyway and this would be an obvious cause of the problem if it tried to connect to the Version Cue server and failed to find it. This did not, however, make any immediate difference.

Later, I will look for causes of this phenomenon, and maybe write up a proper bug report and then figure out who to send it to. For now, though, I'm getting off the electronic boob again. I have stuff to do, after all.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #46: Hounds of Love by The Futureheads

May 27th, 2011 by Reinder

(Because I'm winding down this series of Kate Bush covers of the day, I am finally posting the ones that I believe everyone already knows.)

Now this one I know is famous! The Futureheads pretty much made this their breakthrough song, and their high energy treatment with added guitar chords is still one of my personal favourites. While sounding very different from the original with its cello drone and pounding beat, it still manages to convey the original's giddy excitement if not its claustrophobic anxiety. Yes, the original communicated those two emotions at the same time, and this one only communicates one. It's still plenty effective at that.

Live video from July 2006. The single was from February of 2005, which I'm using as its official date for tagging purposes.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #45: Wuthering Heights by The Puppini Sisters

May 26th, 2011 by Reinder

Like I wrote yesterday, I've started simply running the "famous" Kate Bush cover versions that everyone knows, because I need to cut down on my YouTube surfing in search of Kate Bush covers. Actually, though, I'm not that sure if this qualifies as a famous cover. I thought everyone knew this one, but maybe I just heard it for the first time at a time when lotsa people I knew were pointing it out simultaneously.

The Puppini Sisters do "Wuthering Heights" in the style of the Andrews Sisters and... er, that's just about it. I love it, but there's not a lot more to say about it. There were some other YouTube videos showing them do the song live, complete with the dance routine including the windmilling gestures, but I picked this one with the studio recording because it had much better sound. If you like this recording, do seek out those live vids for yourself though.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #44: This Woman’s Work by Maxwell

May 25th, 2011 by Reinder

I've decided that the time has come to start winding down this series. I need to spend more of my time off the internet, so I can get more done, and the YouTube surfing that finding new Kate Bushs entails is one online activity I will be cutting. Besides, it's getting to be a bit of a chore as the subsets of songs that artists actually cover is not that large. So from here on, I'll start running some of the famous covers that I've been saving up, because they were featured elsewhere on other people's blogs.
To kick off this series of famous Kate Bush covers, the ones that the performers made their own, here's Maxwell.

This is the studio recording from 2001, I think, but Maxwell first showcased the song on his MTV Unplugged set in 1997. By then, as far as I was concerned, MTV Unplugged was old news, and as I was not a fan of R&B, I never actually heard that version, or this one until today. I did, however know this version by reputation: I have heard, over and over again, that quite a few people think of it as a Maxwell song rather than a Kate Bush song. So what do I think of it, now that I've finally heard it?

It's actually pretty good. I found Maxwell's falsetto unappealing at first (though better than Angra's), but by the end of the song, he had won me over enough that I didn't mind it and simply sat back and enjoyed his interpretation. Then when YouTube decided to play it again, I listened to it again and enjoyed it more.

What struck me, though, was the sound. Listen to it on headphones. Then, listen to the new version, from Director's Cut. Use this Spotify link: This Woman's Work 2011 on Spotify or if that doesn't work for you, go to This Woman's Work 2011 on YouTube. As you can hear, both Maxwell's version and Kate's own re-recording have this chimey reverb shifting between the left and right channels, creating a disorienting beat. The original has more conventional reverb, some of which (I think) is a studio effect, but which blends in with the pedal echo from the piano and does not draw attention to itself. It seems, then, that Maxwell's version may have influenced Kate's own new version at least a little bit, which is a first as far as this series is concerned.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #43: Wuthering Heights by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

May 24th, 2011 by Reinder

I've had a crappy day, so I need some ukelele music to cheer me up. And so do you.

Commercial release of this was actually pre-empted by EMI in 2003 or thereabouts, because they were expecting a new Kate Bush album really, really soon. Don't see why they bothered.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #42: The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Hue and Cry

May 23rd, 2011 by Reinder

So I was looking for a cover of 'The Man With The Child In His Eyes' by a proggy trio from the Netherlands that I'd seen at around the time I featured Danni Green's version, and I found this live recording from 1989, by a bona fide hitmaking pop group from the era, Hue and Cry from Scotland. It's soulful, though I don't like the sound of the piano much.

This could well be the earliest cover with a male singer, so these guys were breaking new ground.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #41: Running Up That Hill by John Forté

May 22nd, 2011 by Reinder

In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Kate Bush was asked what she thought about the influence she has on a number of top hiphop artists. Her answer was that she's aware of it, and that she is very pleased with it.

As for me, I was less aware of it, because I don't normally listen to hiphop. I guess the time has come for me to learn — I like this version by John Forté quite a bit, especially because it's such a free treatment of the original, new rapped lyrics and all. It also has a good beat that reminds me of old Eddy Grant singles from the 1980s.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #40: Wuthering Heights by Josh Pyke

May 21st, 2011 by Reinder

Before starting on this series, I thought it would be much easier for a male singer to do interesting things with a Kate Bush song than for a female singer. Since then, I've been repeatedly proven wrong by several female singers, and by Angra. But this is the sort of thing I was thinking about: without needing to try very hard, Josh Pyke's subdued reading transforms 'Wuthering Heights' into a completely different song.

Kate Bush Cover of the Day #39: Babooshka by Jeanne Cherhal and J.P. Nataf

May 20th, 2011 by Reinder

Ooh, I like this a lot. It's a bit rough in places, but what do you expect? You're not supposed to perform 'Babooshka' as a duo of a bass guitarist and an electric guitarist, swapping lead vocals between a male and a female singer, and with both singers having a French accent. But that's what I like about it. It's spirited, raw and different. And you can't go wrong with a beard like that. You just can't.

I'm not 100% sure about the date, but it seems that Cherhal and Nataf were touring as a duo in 2005 and 2006, so that's a good guess.

Yesterday, I wrote that I was probably going to break down and do the famous covers that people had probably been expecting from the start of this series more than a month ago. But there are just so many covers available, and the range of performing styles is so great, I'm just having too much fun finding new versions. I'll be quite happy if I can delay Placebo, the Futureheads, Maxwell and so on till past the fiftieth episode of this series.

J.P. Nataf's website has a bunch of video's on its front page. Check out his version of 'You Can Call Me Al'.
Jeanne Cherhal's website is prettier and gives a good impression of her music, but it's all in Flash and plays automatically on load, so beware.