14 August 2013

Placebo - Covers

Well as sort of a brucey bonus to the Placebo blog I have decided to review an album which you cannot really get unless you either find a copy of the deluxe version of 'Sleeping With Ghosts', you can hunt down the individual songs or you can pay over the odds for it on Amazon.  I got this by accident by purchasing the first method when the seller accidently sold me the wrong copy - not that I complained or said anything. So, thank you random person from the interlink.  The meaning behind the record is in the title - this is a complication of covers that Placebo have done during their career and released in one neat package.  Most bands do covers for radio shows, b-sides, that sort of thing - it is easy and throwaway.  But sometimes covers can be a little bit special if done correctly - the main thing I find with covers is if it is a re-imagination of the original, I tend to fall in love with it.  So how have Placebo done on this one then?

Before this was released, all of these songs bar one had been released as the afforementioned easy b-side to various singles during the band's existence. With most of these songs I know what the originals sound like, but for the most part I would not have to as almost all of the album is straight covers which could have been the original band with Mr Moloko coming on to do a guest vocal. For example, the covers of "20th Century Boy" (originally by T-Rex), "Where Is My Mind" (originally by Pixies), Bigmouth Strikes Again (originally by The Smiths), "I Feel You" (originally by Depeche Mode) and "Holocaust" (originally by Big Starr) are bog standard straight laced covers which could have been done by anyone.  Not saying they are not done well, they are just a little bit too straight to the point to make any difference - and as much as I love some of the above covers they just stay too safe. 

What is more interesting is when they try something different with the material on hand.  Granted they never stray too far from the originals, but there are some gems to be dug from this.  Their cover of Sinead O'Connor's "Jackie" which not being as heavy or powerful as the original (and who would have ever thought that sentence would be wrote) goes for a much more softer approach which is an equal to the original and their version of "The Ballad Of Melody Nelson ('Ballade De Melody Nelson')" by
Serge Gainsbourg; likewise the absolute perfect cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" is just so good that it has been used on everything from teen TV dramas, wrestling and adverts to great effect and it is down to the delivery where taking the familiar and making it their own.  Some versions just don't work though to be honest, even with a change - "Daddy Cool" (originally by Boney M) is best left to the live shows when everyone is pissed (yes it is that bad) and the cover of Robert Palmer's "Johnny And Mary" is just dull as the dish water what the original was made of. 

Overall this is ultimately a throwaway release which was tagged onto an album as an extra then given a limited release as an afterthought.  As a fan of the band I found it a little bit disappointing to be honest, when I was reading the list I could not remember the original times listening to the tracks and I think there is a reason for that. This is a fan base release at best apart from the covers of "Jackie", "Running Up That Hill" and "The Ballad Of Melody Nelson" which can all be found for legal downloads - the rest is up to you, but not worth looking for to be honest.

2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

The album is out of print, but you can purchase it here

You can visit the Placebo website here

Now the album is not on Spotify, but there is a few of the tracks on it so check them out

Here is a promo which was made for the Undertaker Vs Shawn Michaels using the Placebo song to great effect

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