The last few years have been great for us, lovers of deconstructions, re-inventions and covers. Slow, atmospheric renderings of eighties classics like ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the world’ or ‘I started a joke’ were used to sell us movies through cleverly curated soundtracks. Mark Kozelek grabbed musicals, Modest Mouse, AC/DC and John Denver and rendered them asunder into bright new things. Ryan Adams took a perfect pop album and re-interpreted it with utmost panache (and love) into a thing of beauty. And now, Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan have decided to give a retro-spin to artists ranging from Gun Club to Misfits, creating an intimate affair with the lovely Take it, it’s yours.
Of the previous examples, I think the ones that could work best to describe Take it, it’s yours are Mark Kozelek and Ryan Adams. Their cover versions were diametrically opposed (in genre) to the original, but the lyrics, mostly untouched, still packed a punch. Who could’ve guessed AC/DC could be so romantic? Or that Taylor Swift described life’s vicissitudes so well?
Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan go even farther with arrangements straight from the sixties and the seventies, taking an intimate approach to fierce numbers like ‘Sex Beat’, a lust-inspired rager from The Gun Club or making Iggy Pop & The Stooges ‘I wanna be your dog’ an ethereal lush ditty, worthy as an opener to a British Spy thriller. Preferably one with Michael Caine.
Are these calm covers a declawing? I don’t think so. Well-sharpened words never lose their killing potential and they might even be louder when presented in a distortion free environment, wrapped in pitch perfect vocal harmonies warmer than any overdrive pedal. ‘Rebel Yell’, the hypnotic re-working of Billy Idol‘s furious classic lets the piano be the one howling into the night. Goodman & Morgan found a tremendous sensibility in Idol‘s anthem and stroke gold. Almost minimalistic, ‘Rebel Yell’ reflects now on the anger of youth. What happened to the energetic young man from the past? He reflects on the golden years, but never wallows, just lets the odd tear come out and accept that time waits for no one. ‘Rebel Yell’ is now a reflection of wild nights and that’s fine: we all live with our past. We are defined by it but we shouldn’t live there forever.
I think what I’m looking for is a way to introduce the term “dignity”. Make no mistake, these were all fine songs and Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan know it. They took the titanic effort of taking well-loved classics and paying tribute to them, imbuing them with their artistic sensibilities. ‘Bastards of young’, one of the best songs about identity crisis, now also speaks for the introverts who also want to raise their voice. The Replacements‘ justified anger is very present, but now another voice is heard, reassuring us what we knew: ‘Bastards of young’ is a song that speaks to all of us. And don’t you damn forget about this.
Cover versions. We make fun of them if they come from an over the hill singer, like Tom Jones or Rod Stewart, without understanding clearly that it’s a tribute, not a cash-in. We might roll our eyes if it’s a terrible song that we should celebrate because it’s “for charity, innit.” And then we find the cover versions that help us re-discover the songs we loved, the ones that define our lives, all over again. The delivery method changes, but the message stays the same. Take it, it’s yours celebrates so many great bands, all spread across the musical genre spectrum and manages to make them sound similar. Why is this good? Because it shows how universal some feelings are and that is the greatest trick that Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan achieve: to lift the veil, to make us watch the mirror and accept we are our past, we re-invent it and we move on.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.
Read our review of La Sera’s Music for Listening to Music To. (pretty please?)