Right let’s get this out of the way early door so I don’t have to mention it again. Yes JC Carroll is the lead singer behind the Members and yes they did have a smash hit with ‘Sound Of The Suburbs’. Right, We’re gathered here today to celebrate a whole generation of inspirational tunes that helped shape the musical landscape of the 20th century. The Members have gone down the covers route, in itself its no biggie lots of bands tip the hat so to speak and turn in exceptional interpretations of songs and bands that inspired them and some band spectacularly miss the point but, I guess it’s an individual thing. A classic song is exactly that to the individual so when a band takes on an iconic tune and flips it on its head sometimes it misses the point of that original. ‘Version’ has fourteen covers some more widely known than others and some done fairly straight whilst others are not just flipped on their heads but totally rebirthed as something so far removed I don’t know what to make of it at times.
First up is a Prince song taken to the charts by Cyndi Lauper Not afraid of taking a chance and opening with a big hitter then? To be fair it’s not a million miles from Prince with the synth hook its got a cars sort of power pop feel to the melody but JC doesn’t have the high falsetto that the former artist known as Prince had but its an intriguing introduction to say the least. Covered by many artists over the years and now the opening track for The Members.
Come out from behind the sofa folks its only a song by the Swedish phenomena better known as ABBA. Yup ‘Does Your Mother Know’ gets a roughing up and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry its one of those songs from your childhood that is burnt into your memory. Not sure ABBA ever translate into any sort of guitar-based music its a weird one and I’d like to accept the offer of a free pass on this one.
Ah, Bowie and a clear favourite on Carroll as he apes Bowie in the vocal department and to be fair does a good job as the band actually do ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ some justice and don’t try and be clever and just do a pretty straight take on it. Next up things get weird as they take on the classic Buzzcocks ‘What Do I Get’ and reggae-fy it using its superb melody to slow it right down and skank. Bells and whistles thrown in along with the natty keyboard stabs I don’t think I like it at all. Whilst I try to get the taste of the last one out of my mouth along comes another weird take on the classic ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ and it’s given a trip on an altogether different route than Joey and the boys took it originally and again I can’t work out if I’m listening to genius or a messed up piss take – help I’m confused.
More Ramones crop up with ‘Chinese Rocks’ and a suitably scuzzy riff is dutifully relayed and a fairly straight route is taken. The band then go down the reggae road covering the John Holt track ‘Police In Helicopters’ all about da herb brother. A fairly standard cover to be fair and fairly true to the original. Continuing the theme the band does ‘Soul Rebel’ from Bob Marley and what you hear is exactly what you get. laid back and chilled out. In for a penny and all that it’s no surprise to hear the band take on the Gregory Issacs iconic track ‘Night Nurse’ personalising the lyrics and doing a decent job on this chilled out five minutes.
Wow now, C’mon JC turning ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ into a trumpet tooting reggae song is just not on or is it? Maybe Shelley was a visionary and this was how it was intended to sound? It’ll take you a while to get your head around it and again I’m really not sure what to make of it, firstly with it being such an iconic punk rock song its hard to get your head around this departure. Brave or crazy who knows what’s done is done now and there is no going back maybe JC just hears it differently to some of us.
Grandmaster Flash anyone? This is more interesting and one I think would make more sense hearing it live with the horns and finishing with ‘Waiting for my Man’ JC and The Members certainly haven’t taken the easy route here and to some it’ll be red rag to a bull whilst others with be in love with old songs newly arranged.
Me I’m undecided. Maybe I’ll give it another go but give it a bit of distance as well. brave or crazy I can’t decide.
Buy ‘Version’ Here
Author: Dom Daley