People get confused about cover versions. They are a labour of love, not some sort of disrespectful treatment of the classics. Everyone involved in the “Exit Music” project love the music of Radiohead – “Songs with Radio Heads” doesn’t attempt to replace the originals as “definitive versions”. Instead, like the Futureheads cover of Kate Bush or the Slits cover of Marvin Gaye, this is an exercise in translating well loved tracks into a different genre.
“Exit Music” also taps into the dancefloor potential of Radiohead, long recognized by DJs ranging from Paul Oakenfold to the Scratch Perverts. The band themselves are devotees of both hiphop and dance music – commissioning remixes from respected figures such as Madlib, DJ Shadow and Four Tet. With an increasing number of under the counter remixes beginning to surface, BBE thought it was time to collect together the finest hiphop and dance cover versions of Radiohead songs. Ranging from gentle acoustic treatments to raw funky versions, BBE have taken the songs of Thom Yorke into realms even he couldn’t imagine. And with a new album from Radiohead expected in 2006, “Exit Music” may only be the beginning…
Tapping into the dance floor potential of Radiohead, three stunning covers to brighten up Dance floors worldwide.
One of the great Radiohead tracks and drummer Phil Selway’s favourite song on “The Bends”, “Just” combines self-loathing lyrics, a particular viscous guitar riff and middle-eight to die for. For his cover Mark Ronson not only enlisted the help of the formidable Daptones horn section (The Dap Kings) but Alex Greenwald, the lead singer of Phantom Planet (best known for “California”, the theme to “The OC”). A dynamite combination of snappy horns and dusty drum breaks, “Just” belongs to the cover canon of Quantic Soul Orchestra’s “Get a Move On”, Alice Russell’s “Seven Nation Army” and the Daptone’s own “What (Have You Done For Me Lately”. The man behind “Just” is one of the most sought after DJs in the world and, as one half of
AllIDo Records, Ronson is currently working with Chicago rapper Rhymefest, Australian soul singer Daniel Merryweather and fabulous pop goddess Christina Aguilera. His cover of “Just” won early support from Gilles Peterson, Zane Lowe and Jo Whiley on Radio One as well as Eddy Temple-Morris on XFM, making this one of the most exciting BBE releases in years.
“In Limbo” lived up to its name in its original form: Radiohead took nine months before they were happy with the release, originally titled “Lost at Sea” and built around mellow fender Rhodes and a coiled Jonny Greenwood guitar riff. Sa-Ra take the original and reform it into their distinctive off-kilter odd-space funk. Gone are the indistinct vocals of suffering endured – instead the same feeling of disorientation occurs with the odd chanted chorus and the other-wordly verses over flashes of electric guitar and disembodied keys of cosmic funk and machine soul has won over everyone from Pharrell Williams to Gilles Peterson. Having worked with the leading lights of both the soul and the hiphop scene, from Prince to Dr. Dre, their debut album is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2006.
The Radiohead original was a caustic, violent record that Yorke originally recorded onto minidisc before it was wiped by a lightning storm. He then only recalled the song again in the weird somnambulant existence of a night-flight. Mournful in the extreme, it builds from a jittery drum-break by Phil Selway into a swollen melancholy symphony, accentuated by the pleading vocal of Yorke. For their version the Randy Watson Experience (drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson from the Roots and fellow Soulquarian James Poyser) enlisted the help of Donn, vocalist with her band daywithdonn and Thompson’s sister. Their cover is over double the length of the original, incorporating subtle elements of drum’n’bass and infused with the melodic soul for which Thompson is so admired. The Randy Watson Experience, having taken their name from Eddy Murphy’s “Coming to America”, recently remixed Gladys Knight and the Pips for a Motown compilation and appeared on King Britt’s magnificent “The Philadelphia Experiment: Remixed”.