1 – The Hibernator (the artist on a major label who has done absolutely nothing) 2 – The Performer (the artist who does online gigs ranging from the totally unprofessional to the bloody sublime.) 3 – The Creator (the artist that records and releases music to their fanbase).
Former Biters frontman Tuk Smith emerges triumphant from category 2 and sticks his Cuban heeled boot firmly into category 3 with the release of his ‘Covers From The Quarantine’ EP. With the imminent release of Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts debut album on hold and a high profile summer tour opening for Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard now postponed until next summer, the mop top singer with the cheek bones to die for finds himself at a loose end. Recorded in his attic studio, with just acoustic guitar, keys and drum samples, Tuk takes five classics from different decades back to their bare roots for all to digest.
Opener ‘Don’t Change’ is a lesser known INXS tune that was released back in 1982. The writing partnership of Michael Hutchence & Andrew Farriss was then still in its infancy and this is a perfect example of what would rocket them to superstar status before Hutchence’ tragic and untimely death in 1997. Arguably their first true classic, it’s a powerful song that has been covered by the likes of Everclear and The Goo Goo Dolls in the past, but in the hands of Tuk and his acoustic guitar, this is a more stripped back affair that somehow carries even more power and sentiment than the original.
Next up he tackles Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’ with great effect. It may be a predictable choice, but it’s also an inspired choice. Tuk doesn’t mess with the structure or the delivery as his voice fits the song just right. The simple stabs of keys and the bombastic beats add atmosphere and drama to a classic we all know and love.
The Faces vibes are intact with his take on the Kiss classic ‘Hard Luck Woman’. I guess that figures, seems as Paul Stanley wrote it with Rod Stewart in mind, even if drummer Peter Criss ended up singing the definitive version. The picked, folky chord progression sound sublime, the vocals delivered with sentiment and passion in equal measures. It’s not trying to be Kiss or even Rod Stewart, it’s just Tuk being Tuk, playing a classic his own way.
Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness’ is the curveball of this collection. Tuk’s version retains the cinematic quality and the melancholic feel of Del Rey’s work, but it still has that sleazy, 70’s glam edge that the sadly missed Biters delivered in spades. Dreamy pop given a good rigorous drag through the hedge backwards…nicely done.
Now, if Fred Durst can manage a decent version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, then Tuk Smith should be able to crack The Who classic without breaking a sweat, right? He does it justice of course. A beautiful song delivered with sincerity that truly hits you in the feels.
When the world finally returns to some sort of normal, I think 2020 will be remembered in music circles as the year of the lockdown EP. There has been a fair few already, some are good, some not so good. ‘Covers From The Quarantine’ is one of the good ones and should keep fans of Tuk happy until his Restless Hearts album finally sees the light of day.
Author: Ben Hughes