Not having posted for four weeks, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'd dropped off the face of the earth, but I was just having an extended Christmas holiday and settling back into work again. I didn't feel inclined to do a retrospective of the year gone by and I've a horrible feeling that next Christmas I may not feel like doing a retrospective then. In short, I'm somewhat lacking in global optimism just now.

That as may be, things here are going along as normal.

Back to work again. The only thing that happened this week - apart from my usual teaching and colleagues suffering from colds, flu and sprained ankles - was a short intermediate show by the Level 5 BA Jewellery and Related Products students, where they had to make work out of really  non-traditional materials.

Mateur and Colourials - 5

Mateur and Colourials - 4
Work by Xiao Yang. Eggshell, spices, wool.

Mateur and Colourials - 3
Work by Effy Ma. Bread, sugar, plaster, pigment.

Mateur and Colourials - 2
Work by Tilly Wright.

This weekend I was back at The Herbert on what seems to have been the first day of winter as I had to scrape snow and ice off the car for the first time. It warmed up to a wet, cold day:

I was teaching a workshop on precious-jewellery making and in a mere six hours (well, six and a half: we over-ran a bit), the participants made silver rings set with moss-agate. Everyone finished them but most still had to polish them up at home.

There is another next week on using found objects.

This workshop was part of the Craftspace "Made in the Middle" show which is currently at The Herbert and you will recall that I wrote about the opening of this show before, here.

As part of the show, I've put a piece into the handling collection:

Run of the Mill - Handling Collection

Rather amusingly, this was returned to me this week for reconstruction as someone felt that the nail element was too sharp to be handled safely!

'Elf and safety, innit?!


Songs used to be just "songs" and anyone could perform them. Over the holiday, Dingo pointed out that at some point the concept of "covers" came along but we couldn't work out when this happened. It may have been at the point when performers started to write and be identified with their own material but it isn't really clear. When Thelonious Monk "performs" Duke Ellington's 'Mood Indigo', we don't think less of him; when Chrissie Hynde "covers" Radiohead's 'Creep', there it is viewed as something second-rate, inauthentic, unoriginal. It seems to me that the important thing is that the "cover" brings something new to the material, exactly as musicians always have.

A minor digression to introduce a fantastic performance of a fantastic original! Nostalgia 77's soul version of White Stripe's 'Seven Nation Army'.

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Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 26, 2017 at 3:06am

Well, on a Mexican theme, here is the Mariachi version of The Smiths' "Big Mouth Strikes again"...

My absolute favourite Smiths' cover is by The Ukranians:

Two for the price of one!

Comment by 2Roses on January 25, 2017 at 5:36pm

Just to keep it going with something completely different, here is a taste of "El Parche" (Steve Jordan) who has been called the Jimi Hendrix of the TexMex Accordion. This is his cover of the classic El Cascabel. 

Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 25, 2017 at 1:39am

I particularly like Nirvana's version of "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam" but I'm biased as it was written by a friend of mine from Glasgow! 

Comment by Seana Higgins on January 24, 2017 at 9:31pm

I've been thinking about covers so much since I first saw Brigitte's post on Instagram. I can't post all the videos because it would be insane, but I'll make a list of my favorites.

Ryan Adams covering Wonderwall by Oasis
Nirvana covering In the Pines by Lead Belly
Sturgill Simpson covering In Bloom by Nirvana (see what I did there?)
Local H covering Toxic by Britney Spears (yes, another one)
the Civil Wars covering I Want you Back by The Jackson 5
Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins covering Black Star by Radiohead
A Perfect Circle covering Imagine by John Lennon

I'm realizing as I compile the list that I mostly enjoy what artists of a completely different genre do with a song out of their usual range. Taking this on seems to force them to consider how to adapt the song to not only pay homage to the original artist but also to make it sound like it fits with their particular style.

I think I could probably add to this endlessly, but I'll add these two videos (1) Because I saw them perform this last summer at a festival I attended by myself and it moved me so much that I cried.
(2) Because our political climate is (in my opinion) quite bleak, and this cover seems to capture that feeling.

Thanks for bringing up this subject, I enjoyed thinking about it for a bit.

Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 21, 2017 at 11:15am

My favourite audience shot is at 1'58", where the lady in the typing-pool glasses freaks out and her friend to the left completely fails to understand. There is more than a whiff of Max Wall about that dancing, though!

What an utterly joyful performance. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Brigitte Martin on January 21, 2017 at 7:38am

O - M - G !! At first look I thought, hey that's Bruno Mars' daddy, only with more umph. Hahaha.

Thank you John, you made my day. This is incredible. I also love the stunned looks from some people in the audience, and the cut to the two white men at the end who just don't know what to make of this - fricking hilarious. Must practice those awesome dance moves. Splits, I am sorry to say, are totally out of the question, but that one-legged shimmy (or whatever you call it) I am going to go for. In a well-carpeted area of my house. Thanks!!!!!!!

Comment by 2Roses on January 21, 2017 at 1:22am

Here's early James Brown doing a cover of Night Train. Nobody had ever seen anything remotely like James Brown before.  

Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 20, 2017 at 1:42am

Neither had I until this came on the radio one evening and I got absolutely obsessed with it, listening to it on repeat for ages. There is something quite unworldly about it. 

Comment by 2Roses on January 19, 2017 at 4:23pm

Ohhhh, that's a good one Dauvit. I had not heard Veron Green and the Phantoms before. 

Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 19, 2017 at 2:42pm

Thank you! I knew about "Hound Dog" and had heard it before but it was great to be reminded of it. WAY better than Elvis' version. 

Just while we're on such niche music, here is one of my favourites from the era, "Sweet Breeze" by Vernon Green which is not a cover and I don't know that it has been covered, but it is like a 1956 song by Portishead!

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