Usually on Mostly Covers I fixate, sorry focus, on one great song and some of the more interesting interpretations of that song by artists; some great and some not so great. This time I am changing the format. This time I am looking at one artist and focusing on five of her better known songs. That artists is Kate Bush and those songs are; Wuthering Heights, Running Up That Hill, Cloudbusting, Babooshka and Hounds of Love.
Why, you may well ask, the change in format? Well in honest truth it is because I am greedy and yearn to share.I could, it is true, have focused solely on Wuthering Heights, which has generated the most cover versions (take a gander on YouTube if you like, there are hundreds and the majority are at best karaoke or, if you’re a little less kind, just plain old godawful), but I just couldn’t resist sharing a few other favourites that I felt were worthy of your attention. So here I am indulging myself, and I hope you, by providing you with a schmorgasboard of my favourites, with a couple of “special” curiosities as well – after all Mostly Covers wouldn’t be Mostly Covers without them.
The Puppini Sisters – Wuthering Heights
I quite often feature the Puppinis because, well because their covers are always fresh, inventive and perfectly arranged in order that their vocal talents might best be displayed. This three piece of female loveliness are a terribly talented trio of musicians and vocalists and I recommend buying at the very least their first album “betcha bottom dollar” which includes other marvellous cover versions including Blondie’s Heart of Glass and the Smiths classic Panic. If you don’t know the Puppinis at all imagine the Andrew’s Sisters singing Wuthering heights and you’ll be close. Sadly no video for this version.
Placebo – Running Up That Hill
This is the cover you are most likely to have heard. It is my belief that almost every tween drama featuring vampires or something that goes bump in the night has used this wonderful cover. Placebo clearly have a soft spot for interpreting other artists’ songs. Perhaps it is because on occasion their lead vocalist likes to sing something where he doesn’t repeat the same verse three times? Anyway, the video to this is, well it’s a little boring really (upside down, ohhhh), but it is a great cover and my recommendation would be to download it and add it to your music collection right away.
Futureheads – Hounds of Love
This is the other cover that the more discerning amongst you will, I am sure, have heard before. They have done what all great cover versions should do, taken a well-loved song and made it entirely their own. This young foursome have combined some wonderfully simplistic guitar work with a fresh take on the barber quartet to create something really rather unique and special. This is a live version, so a little less guitar and raw energy than the album version, but I rather like it, so on the basis that you really ought to have heard the album/single version already here it is:
The Sweptaways – Wuthering Heights
I promised you a few “special” cover versions and it would be hard to find a version quite as special as this one. Female Swedish choir adapt Wuthering Heights and create a video of their efforts. Naturally the video features a gentleman in his underpants, women in spandex carrying him around a gymnasium and some very very special hair dos that I am sure were quite cutting edge at the time.
MPHO – Running Up That Hill
One of the aspects of cover versions that I enjoy is the way that you can stumble across artists that you may otherwise never have heard of. MPHO falls within this category. Here’s a lady with a seriously great set of pipes creating a soulful urban version of the song that I can’t help but feel Kate Bush herself would be proud of. I have no idea why the drummer hasn’t taken his back-pack off though. Maybe it was studio security’s day off?
The Divine Comedy – Wuthering Heights
Not Mr Hannon’s finest hour, there are some rather dodgy high notes at the end of this (either that or he’s been on the helium balloons again) but it is a great curiosity and Mostly Covers is nothing if not about curios. So here you are, enjoy, or hate, I wouldn’t blame you either way.
Gemma Hayes – Cloudbusting
Cloudbusting is one of my favourite Kate Bush songs, even if it was slightly ruined for me thanks to Utah Saints sampling of it (don’t remember that one? Too young or too old?). I honestly didn’t think it was possible any other artist could do this song justice, and after listening to numerous cover versions of it it seemed I was right in my assumptions and then I heard Gemma Hayes. Hayes is another artist I wouldn’t have come across if I hadn’t been cover hunting. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Paper Crows – Cloudbusting
It is only fitting that after a sweeping criticism of cover versions of Cloudbusting I should run two concurrently. Gemma Hayes’ version is rather lovely, Paper Crows’ is more of a curiosity. It’s basically Bjork meets Bush and if that isn’t worth sharing with you dear reader I don’t know what is.
The Ukulele Orchestra – Wuthering Heights
You may not be a fan of the humble uke but I am and I just adore this combination of lounge lizard, ukulele and cheese. I am also struggling to listen to this song now without singing ho ho ho. This may not endear you to the song, so let me entreat you – please give this one a go, I promise you will have a smile on your face before it ends.
Mauro Pawlowski – Babooshka
Were you aware that Belgium had a charismatic male vocalist with a penchant for covers? No, well neither did I until recently, he’s a new favourite discovery. If you like his stripped down acoustic version of Babooshka, all husky drama, I recommend you look up some of his other performances on YouTube.
I am coming to the end of this cover journey now, which is a shame because I had a shortlist of 24 favourites and I would love to share them all. Will Young’s Running Up That Hill for instance. Pat Benetar’s Wuthering Heights or perhaps Jah Wurzel’s West Country-inspired yokel version of Wuthering Heights is more your cup of tea? However this is my selection so I can choose the closing note. I hope you enjoyed this little journey and if you have why not volunteer some of your own favourites or peruse previous installments?
Wolfmother – Wuthering Heights
Yes you read that correctly, Wolfmother the Australian rock band. Here they are getting soulful and acoustic as they connect with their feminine side. Personally I think he emphasises “my only master” rather well. See what you think.