Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Day 124: Split an egg and war was born...

The Fall were once known for cover versions on their albums, sometimes the choices were obvious and sometimes silly (think Walk Like A Man, Ghost In My House, Victoria) but then now and again they can pull a track so wedged in strangeness, it has to be dragged out of the bag kicking and screaming, see stuff like nI'm Going To Spain for an immediate example.

Often tracks can pass you by, you presume there just isn't a cover on the particular record you are listening to, well here's one of them and I've found the original to be even more disturbing.


Track: War
Album: Middle Class Revolt
Year: 1994

Yeah so have a listen to The Fall version, it's certainly an odd-shaped track to fit in with the somewhat dreamy LP's tone, with lyrics about love and some whistful bits on there too. This track pulses with not only a relentless backing vocal that annoys as well as confuses, but the main vocal is seemingly endless, ragging on and on to devastating effect. Nigh-on inpenetrable, I'm always secretly glad it's all over as it's a challenging, acutely scary track.

The lyrics are delivered in a loud, but strangely distracted manner, and depict all sorts of messages about war itself. The interplay of ryhme and unpleasant subject manner combine to create a ghastly word poem: 'While war casts her gory locks/Over the deserted docks/She casts her gory locks/Over the deserted docks' just makes the idea of war all that more repugnant. One line that keeps coming up is 'War does what she has to' which is poignant yet deeply depressing at the same time.

I can see why this was chosen as a Fall cover, the lyrics are scrambled under horrible noise so as to distract from their grim reality, which is something I've mentioned within countless posts on this blog. What I cannot get my head around is the music that the original band Henry Cow play, it's like Captain Beefheart trying to break free of shackles, its wild, unruly and even more irritating than you first imagine it could be. Witness the original version here. A scale of dog barks, along with a demented circus-like beat and some circuit-bent sounding trumpet along with a rolling tongue rectiting the lyrics at speed could make most people turn for the off switch, but something makes you keep listening. Witness their free jazz nightmare that brings to mind Reeves and Mortimer's Mulligan and O'Hare, such is the unbridled expressionism on display. I'm no musical snob, I've watched the likes of Martin Archer several times, but some of it I find very hard to appreciate, this is on the cusp.

As it goes, The Fall version is more accessible, and how many times can you say that?

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