A look back on some of our favourite Like A Version performances!
COME WITH IT NOW:
Okay, let’s start off with the Like A Version that first put this list idea into my head: Denzel Curry’s recent cover of ‘Bulls On Parade‘. Old mate Zel is just running on vocal beast-mode throughout, yelling his head off (save for a quick-paced rapped section during the bridge) and spitting Zach de la Rocha’s lyrics with real venom. The rapper and his band mates just pack their aggro LAV take with so much fucking energy, giving a groovy, faithful yet also rage-fuelled performance that feels honest and exciting. So much so that I don’t care if this rendition is a little faster than the original 1996 recording; so much so that I don’t really mind if his guitarist’s crying wah-tone isn’t as tight as Tom Morello’s was on the initial track. Because even so, this is still better than anything Prophets Of Rage have put out, including Morello’s solo work too. This is definitely the most I’ve ever cared about Curry’s work before as well. Which is the added bonus of a great LAV; it can better introduce you to an artist that you maybe weren’t paying attention to previously. And I’d just love to see more Rage tunes get re-created via this platform! But let’s also remember that there’s plenty more killer tracks from that band’s catalogue than just ‘Bulls‘ and ‘Killing In The Name‘.
CHVRCHES took a massively popular hip-hop track in the shape of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’ cut, ‘LOVE‘, and re-arranged it into a modern synthwave power-ballad? Fuck to the yes, mate. Now, I’m far from the biggest Kendrick fan, but the tenth track from his huge 2017 LP is one of the few songs of his that I’ve actively enjoyed. (Though, I think a BIG part of that comes down to Zacari’s guesting soul vocals). Which goes double for this CHVRCHES cover; a group whom I already have a lot of love and appreciation for. The glittering pop synths here glide so well together, and the back-and-forth vocals between singer Lauren Mayberry and synthesizer/sampler/backing vocalist Martin Doherty is just so lovely; giving this neon electro piece more character amidst all of the drum and synth samples. The live percussion parts from touring drummer Jonny Scott are also such a nice touch too. And if anything, this rendition of ‘LOVE‘ re-asserts how stellar of a vocalist Lauren is and has been for quite some time now. Those high-notes are golden!
“You sit there in your heartache”:
One of The Killers biggest songs next to the universally played ‘Mr Brightside‘ is without a doubt the ‘Sam’s Town‘ banger, When You Were Young‘. While there aren’t any synths firing off here, Press Club make this popular Killers tune their own, making it gel with their 2018 debut LP, ‘Late Teens‘. Albeit minus the raw, DIY garage-rock production. Sure, it’s not quite the most accurate cover you’ll ever hear of this particular Killers song, but that imperfection is all part of the fun and charm of younger rock talent like Press Club. The up-and-coming Melbourne act also don’t put some crazily different spin on like other mentions in this piece, but I also don’t think they needed to in order to make a solid version of am incredibly well-loved song. Vocalist Natalie Foster does her best Brandon Flowers impersonation well-enough throughout, letting her voice shine, with some greet feet work and physical energy. A great factor of the band’s own live shows too, by the way. Some people have been rather vocal about her breathing management here during her takes, but that’s a pretty small criticism in the face of what is overall a really good cover. And man, every time their drummer Frank Lees is shown on-screen, I just can’t help but smile – the guy is all smiles and looks so stoked to be there! This band loves what they’re doing and I in return love them for their passion.
Violent Soho tackle a Silversun classic:
First off, I love the jarring little tease of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ at the very start of this cover, before the band drop it and switch into playing this classic Silversun Pickups jam. ‘Lazy Eye‘, other than being a sick song, is a really nice fit for Violent Soho’s grunge-rock sound, and the Brisbane rockers nail it in what is one of the better live-studio performances I’ve seen from them. Because if you close your eyes for a second, this honestly sounds like a Soho deep cut, and not at all a cover. The thick, Aussie-Occa vocals may put some listeners off and pray to hear Brian Aubert’s vocals quick-smart, but Luke Boerdam’s singing tone isn’t put on; it’s just him genuinely paying homage to a band who has clearly influenced him and the rest of the Violent Soho crew as well. (I also get some heavy Sonic Youth vibes here too.) The band haven’t changed too much here, but I’d argue that ‘Lazy Eye‘ is one of those songs that you don’t need to change too much: you just need to get it right as it was first written and performed. Which is exactly what happens here! Also, this cover was captured before the move into the current, more spacious studio for LAV was made, yet the production quality here is really solid. Better than most other times they’ve had to cram rock bands into that small control room, at least.
Donald Glover takes on a 90’s throwback:
Way back in 2015, Childish Gambino/Donald Glover stopped by JJJ to give this wonderful rendition of Tamia’s 90’s pop throwback, ‘So Into You‘. In all honesty, Tamia is before my musical time, but I was blown away by this cover at the time and still am to this day. It’s a more stripped-back version than the original 1998 pop track in terms of instrumental elements from the get-go, yet also a far better take than that 2003 Fabulous hip-hop/rap cover, I’d argue. (Jesus Christ, there’s something that needs to never be remembered.) The constant finger clicks, Gambino’s soft and soulful vocals, those delicious R’n’b keys, the soothing mood; this cover is just so sexy and well-arranged. And when the funky guitar licks and drums come in towards the end? Oh god, just send it home, guys!
Making Linkin Park proud:
This artsy, folky indie-pop cover of Linkin Park’s smash-hit ‘In The End‘ is easily one of the most interesting and unique covers in Like A Version history. Performed in honour of Chester Bennington, who passed away in July 2017, I very much feel like this cover would’ve made the rest of the band and the late great frontman more than proud of Gordi’s performance. Backed up by rolling drums and minimal cymbals, gorgeous keys, subtle low vocal harmonies, a harp, a saxophone and a trumpet, and Sophie Peyten (Gordi) herself using a harmonium, this cover is just something else. In a word, captivating! It completely reworks the original LP track’s arrangement, but retains the song’s emotional authenticity and takes it into a very different, yet also very moving avenue. On top of that, this shows off just how excellent of a timbre Gordi has as a singer, as well as the fantastic control she exudes over her voice. Fucking goosebumps, I tell ya.