What? No, Cover Wars doesn’t come out on Tuesdays, you guys are all crazy. Yeah, what can I say, I’m a day late. I enjoyed the return to using just one song so much last week that I’m going to do it again. Let’s take a look at nine renditions of the 1977 single by Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill.
In what I consider true slacker-blogger format, why write when you can just copy and paste? Here’s what the folks over at solsburyhill.org have to say…
The first and last Peter Gabriel hit for quite a while, many critics have considered Solsbury Hill to be Peter’s finest moment. While this view clearly fails to take into account many subsequent successes in the catalogue, it does indicate the unusual and extraordinary appeal of this track. Built around a 7/4 time signature in a sprightly B major, the song’s sunny disposition is largely thanks to the acoustic guitar riff, an instrument which has rarely been used in Gabriel’s arrangements since the 1970s. Lyrically the song takes the stress and uncertainty of a future without his former bandmates and twists it into a positively electric excitement (eg. his heart’s “boom boom boom”). The track’s pace quickens as new instruments are added with each additional verse, the final cathartic moment occuring at the last “home” as the crash cymbal darts across the stereo spectrum (a technique applied to many of the songs insturments, so much so that listening to Solsbury Hill in audiophile headphones can create a sense of motion sickness) and the electric guitars groan down to the tonic chord over bristling shouts and odd-ball squeals. Solsbury Hill is one of the few songs in popular music to guarantee goosebumps with every listen and well deserves its place in the Peter Gabriel catalogue.
That about sums it up…I’ll add that Solsbury Hill is an actual place.
We’ve got nine versions this week, and eight of them appear on the playlist below. To hear the covers in their entirety be sure to register/login to Imeem:
Barefoot Manner: While these guys do struggle with the composed part of the song a little bit, I wanted to include it because it’s the most extended take on the song I can find. Sitting in with the folks from Barefoot Manner here is Matt (keyboards) and Brock (guitar) from Perpetual Groove. You may recall that Matt has recently departed Perpetual Groove. You can check out the whole show on The Archive.
Dave Matthews & Friends: When this band first toured in 2003 I couldn’t help but notice a theme to the lyrics of the covers they were playing. The band played Solsbury Hill, a song that it’s well known Peter Gabriel wrote right after leaving his main band Genesis… and we’ve got Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio similarly playing outside of their primary musical outfits. Add that to hearing Trey sing, “And this living on the road is getting pretty old” (From Cripple Creek)…and then add a song with a screaming chorus of, “Thank you for letting me by myself again”…it just made me feel like perhaps these guys had been growing tired of their normal band-mates. But fast forward 5 years and we’ve still got DMB out their touring up a storm and future Phish tourdates seem all but inevitable, so no worries (I’m sure it was just a coincidence).
In addition to the audio version included in the playlist (Which comes off the Bonnaroo ’04 release), there is also this video up on YouTube complete with a par-for-the-course nonsensical gibberish intro from Dave:
Ed McGee (of Ekoostik Hookah): Ed also appeared in the Every Breath You Take CW performing King of Pain. He did a great job with The Police and provides another solid effort here this week. Check out the whole show on The Archive.
Erasure: Take a song that’s in 7/4 and hand it over to a synth-pop duo and they’ll make it a 4/4 dance tune. Very interesting results! They do still sneak in one measure of 7 in the chorus.
This tracks comes off the appropriately titled release from Erasure, Other People’s Songs
It’s obvious to me where they got the inspiration to take a song with an odd-time signature and perform it in common time.
Home at Last: This is the entry where I have never heard of the band but they show up on The Archive when I search for the song. Their website says as of 2006 that they are “taking some time to smell the roses, discover the meaning of life, watch reruns, etc.”. Well you guys did a good job with the tune, let us know when you’re back on the road. Check out the whole show on The Archive.
The Hyannis Sound: While looking for videos of Peter Gabriel performing the tune on YouTube, I found these guys and their beautiful a cappella rendition. They’ll be performing all summer in Cape Cod. They have also recorded this Gabriel tune on their most recent release Shirt! Tie! Khaki!. There is a short clip of their studio rendition at that link as well.
Pat McGee Band: PMB covered this tune very early in their career, in their first year of touring to be exact (and there are no later versions on the LMA). They dedicate this one to Rebecca, which is also a title of a PMB original – which they segue into directly after Solsbury Hill. For an early recording, check out the whole show on The Archive.
Rane: This marks Rane’s debut into the Cover Wars series. Disclaimer: These guys are good friends of mine, so obviously I think this particular rendition is particularly terrible. I kid. Though since I am finding it hard to feel objective on this one, I’ll just say I think it’s a great tune to have in their live repertoire. This was recorded just about three weeks ago and you can check out the whole show on The Archive.
Sarah McLachlan: I always like it when the song selection leads me to include a few mainstream artists to mix in with the jammy-jammersons that often dominate CW. Sarah (That’s what she asks me to call her) sings this one in a modulated key to better accommodate her voice – it’s grand.
Here’s a short clip of her singing the tune live:
And those are the contestants. If you’ve made it this far – please go back up and vote for your favorite cover version.
To check in on the votes from last week’s Can’t Find My Way Home CW, we are declaring Widespread Panic the winner and giving Alison Krauss the honorable mention. Good voting everyone – I agree those were the two best choices on the ballot.
Here’s a few bonus videos from our original artist before we go:
The choreography of the 1994 tour version:
And by 2003, a bicycle has been added to the mix: