Steve Reich In The Afternoon 13

Is That All There Is?

A selection of sublime cover versions that shit all over the originals. By David Griffiths aka Lightspeed Future Lullaby.

Gwrando/listen – Youtube , Spotify

Françoise HardySuzanne
A super-sweet version by my favourite French chanteuse. Whilst still plaintive, it’s a little lusher than the original Leonard Cohen version and is a perfect vehicle for Hardy’s crystal voice. Apparently Leonard loved it (and was rather fond of her too – like most chaps of a certain age to be fair). It was on one of her best albums “Comment Te Dire Adieu?” – also worth checking out.

Laibach – Across The Universe
Incredibly, my favourite version of the song – considering the rivals – David Bowie’s (No2) and the original Beatles’ (No3). This may sound like sacrilege but do have a listen – it’s quite something and not what many would expect from Laibach. A splendid official video exists also.

Devo – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Not as sexy as the Stones but floats my boat a tad more – must be the way I dance.

Cristina – Is That All There Is
The wonderful and beautiful Cristina (who tragically died this year from covid) took an already blackly-humorous song (a Lieber & Stoller number made famous by Peggy Lee) to even darker corners. Never has nihilism tasted so bleakly sweet. Unfortunately, at the time, the songwriters objected to Cristina’s twist and the record was withdrawn.

A personal side-note: back in 1980 the NME ran a competition to win a (then new) Sony Walkman by posing the question – “Which songs would you play – in space; in bed; in heaven; in love?” I won the competition by nominating this for all the scenarios! What a droll teenager I was!

This Mortal Coil – You And Your Sister
This Mortal Coil’s cover-version prowess is well known for their version of “Song to the Siren” (by Tim Buckley and featuring Liz Fraser) which is surely one of the greatest covers ever. But for me it is equalled by this version of “You and Your Sister” (written by Big Star’s Chris Bell and featuring the vocals of Kim Deal and Tanya Donnelly).

It’s a beautiful and plaintive love-song, here rendered with a simple finger-picked arrangement slowly adorned by strings as the song builds – I find it hard not to cry when listening to it – it is so emotionally resonant.

The Associates – Gloomy Sunday
Not strictly a cover I suppose – but one of the many versions of a song that, in translation from the 1933 Hungarian original (on the despair of living through war) became the “Hungarian suicide song” – “Gloomy Sunday”, an intensely powerful contemplation on “ending it all”. I love this version by the Associates. I love the Associates full stop!. The fact that Billy MacKenzie later took his own life adds a tragic poignancy to it.

Momus – See A Friend In Tears
Momus (AKA Nick Curry) was one of my favourite artists in the 80s to 90s and (mainly due to Scott Walker’s interpretations) I also became quite a Jaques Brel fan. So a Momus EP of Brel covers was a tantalising prospect. I’d never heard this song before Momus released this version and it feels astonishingly fragile, like its barely hanging in air – the sparse heavily-reverbed piano/guitar motif and Momus’s tremulous “just there” vocals emphasise the sense of sad reflection on life that the song depicts.

Ecclectic playlists and mixes curated by Ffrancon, Lazy Player and occasional random guests. Rhestrau gwrando a cymysgiadau eclectig wedi’u curadu gan Ffrancon, Lazy Player a gwestai eraill o bryd i bryd.