We love good cover versions and adore Brighton band The Miserable Rich, who we recently touted as a One to Watch in 2011. So when we heard that their covers EP was getting a welcome European release this month we slapped our wrists for missing last year’s UK release and decided to belatedly delve in and see what they made of some well known ’80s tracks by among others The Stranglers and The Eurythmics.
The Stranglers’ ‘Golden Brown’ kicks off the four track EP and the band’s string section take to it well, creating something that retains its oddball new wave charm and makes it sound somehow more Eastern European.
It’s next track ‘Gigantic’, originally by The Pixies that really grabbed me though. The trick to a good cover is make it your own and respect the original. With ‘Gigantic’ retaining Kim Deal and co’s goosebump inducing moments is key. I’ve seen grown men weep at a Pixies performance of Gigantic in the early 1990s and believe The Miserable Rich can easily do the same with their take, as lead singer James de Malplaquet’s stunning vocals grab at your heartstrings and pluck them for dear life. Remarkable stuff.
Third track ‘Shades’ is less effective for me. Mainly because I’m less familiar by this Iggy Pop number. Final track ‘Sweet Dreams’ really impresses though. It’s a tricky song to cover as it is remarkably simple musically. Apart from the austere early 80s bleakness of The Eurythmics original there’s little to play with outside of its simple synth riff. The Miserable Rich are hard workers though and find nuances in the melody that the original didn’t know it had. They also take that 80s bleakness and make it warmer through their use of more traditional instruments. They actually make it a better song – the Holy Grail of the cover version and a feat that very few can manage.
by Joe Lepper