Staff Top 10
Top Ten Songs I’d Cover If I Recorded an Album of Covers

By: Nick Southall

Posted 09/06/2007 - 11:41:49 AM by florenz6:
 Another great idea of a list. Well, I don´t know if it was irony, but, B.E. has, for me, one of the most underrated, beautiful voices on this planet. This is a very anglophile confession. What we surely share, Mr. Southall, is our lack of singing and playing abilities. So here´s my list: 1)Brian Eno: Dead Finks Don´t Talk / Some of Them Are Old 2) Wire: A Mutual Friend 3)Robert Wyatt/Kramer: Free Will and Testament 4)The Go-Betweens: Too Much Of One Thing 5) Kitty Leicester (?? - pale memory about the name, strong memory about this old song): Love Letters Straight From My Heart 6)Eartha Kitt: The Day That The Circus Left Town 7)The Gist: Love At First Sight 8)Neil Young (not the composer): Four Winds 9)The Jayhawks: Dying On The Vine 10)Freddy McKay: I´m A Free Man Well, even supposed I could sing with an outstanding voice and play some instruments virtuoso-kind-of-style, I would definitely fail to come even near all these deeply touching, heartbreaking performances.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 12:54:42 PM by terrorist:
 Brian Eno is a perfectly competent singer.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 01:40:07 PM by NickSouthall:
 "perfectly competent" = "slightly rubbish" in my book. I love his voice, don't get me wrong, but he ain't no Tim Buckley, is my point.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 01:57:23 PM by florenz6:
 Thanks God, he is no Tim Buckley. (Tim is great, no offense intended!) An Eno shoul´ve released about at least five more song albums in his life instead of jamming with U2 in Marocco and producing Coldplay that is "rubbish" in my book. I just put on "Dead Finks Don´t Talk" (from the A+ album "Here Come The Warm Jets) and sing along with it - nice that my office is empty by now:)
Posted 09/06/2007 - 01:58:51 PM by raskolnikov:
 Tim Buckley blows. Sorry he died young and all, but his music is dreadful. Comparing Eno in a negative sense to Buckley in any way shows exactly how puerile and hype-based Southall's taste is. This column idea is pathetic also. If you never ever wanted to be in a band like you claim, you've certainly spent an awful lot of time compiling this shitty list.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 02:06:23 PM by NickSouthall:
 I don't like Tim Buckley's music, but he has a phenomenal vocal range and sustain; I like Brian Eno's music an awful lot, but he doesn't. Also, this feature isn't about 'wanting to be in a band'; it's about songs I'd like to sing. If you weren't so desperate to play the internet hardman you might have realised that and prevented yet more people from thinking you're an obnoxious and unpleasant individual.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 02:55:52 PM by cwperry:
 Fun list, and a question I'm sure many of us have posed to ourselves.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 05:26:44 PM by saltlick:
 If you love music (and we all do here, right?), then you've compiled your own list like this whether or not you're in a band. I've compiled many, myself. Once in a while, you hear a song that strikes you so deeply that you want to own the song, or be it. It takes you to a place you never want to leave. I think that's the spirit of this column.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 06:04:40 PM by florenz6:
 re: saltlick - Ignoring the nonsense Raski says about Tim Buckley you´re right. You said it in a very nice and simple way. Now before I go to sleep I will listen once more to Freddy McKay´s "Free Man" - the first song on the new "Studio One Roots"-edition,Vol.3. (on repeat mode) The simplicity of this old tune and its delivery are haunting. How do Englishmen say: "it sends me shivers". Rough, edgy, romantic!
Posted 09/06/2007 - 06:10:15 PM by florenz6:
 Tim Buckley´s "Dream Letter - Live in London 1968" and "Starsailor" are fantastic pieces of music.
Posted 09/06/2007 - 07:15:12 PM by terrorist:
 didn't you just admit that you can't sing at all? maybe things that have been filed under "slightly rubbish" in your book have been done so unfairly. brian eno's timbre (i think that's what you mean by "sustain"?) is very unique, his ability to sing on pitch is about a 7 or 8 out of 10. in the grand scheme of rock vocals, that's damn excellent. if brian eno's vocals are slightly rubbish, then where in your book do embrace vocals get filed?
Posted 09/07/2007 - 09:12:37 AM by knockturn:
 I do wish somebody would cover "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. I get a semi just thinking about that song.
Posted 09/08/2007 - 09:07:50 AM by richardob:
 Raskolnikov, I'm really just curious.. what would you be writing columns on if you work for Stylus? And if you want to be making the decisions Nick Southall is making instead of deriding them from your swivel-chair, then why don't you apply? I don't what possible benefit can be derived from you being snarky to a columnist about his choice of topic; if you hate us so much, why are you still reading?
Posted 09/09/2007 - 12:58:35 AM by barbarian:
 Well, richardob, you might have noticed there's a lot of music reviews on this website. No doubt some of them are negative. Golly, if these people are writing negative music reviews, why do they continue to listen to music? Maybe they should go try and make some stinkin' music and see how hard it is!! The bottom line is, yeah, this is a rather indulgent topic for an article. The star here seems to be the author and not the music. At this point, though, Southall has done enough articles and crap I guess he can do whatever he wants regardless of whatnot and such. The thought of him letting it rip on "Starman" really makes me wanna kill myself though.
Posted 09/09/2007 - 02:17:56 AM by florenz6:
 Richardob, you´re quite right. But you should loose your curiosity concerning the Dostojevsky guy. He will not change and always feel fine by telling us what "the real thing" is. And he likes attacking people who don´t share his point of view, it´s a bit miserable, isn´t it? But, you know, his behaviour will only be reinforded, no matter if our reactions are rational or digusted or empathetic. And he has a thanks god rather small fanclub gathered around him that likes to applause "the master". We should simply enjoy his Rumpelstilskin attitude and see Raski (his alias telling volumes) as a living example for all the not-so-funny things of fundamentalism.
Posted 09/09/2007 - 05:40:25 AM by richardob:
 Barbarian, I take your point, but isn't 'Golly, if these people are writing negative music reviews, why do they continue to listen to music? Maybe they should go try and make some stinkin' music and see how hard it is!' a comment that could be aimed at Raskolnikov just as well as Southall - a much more negative individual, in my opinion... I agree with you that this list is more of a subjective exploration than something specifically 'about the music', but if Southall simply listed a top ten things you should listen to, you'd be pretty annoyed at him setting his opinion up as fact. So in context I don't see why a subjective, writer-response-based approach to music writing can't fly - it's not as if his every article is about his imaginary band, after all, and it's a good way to explore the nature of cover songs. For me, it also helps convey the joy of music as seen through individual eyes. Southall's enthusiasm really comes through here, and I hope I'm not being too snarky if I suggest that 'joy' and 'enthusiasm' in regard to music are not things I often come across on the Stylus comment pages.
Posted 09/09/2007 - 09:12:42 AM by raskolnikov:
 Dear Richardob--That is a valid question. I read Stylus to get my blood flowing, I guess...the good pieces are few and far between on this site but the magazine's comment section is as perceptive and entertaining as the various offerings of the writers on Stylus. It offers an immediate counterpoint to the hype machine of modern day rock. I'm not auditioning for a job either when I comment here, just trying to tweak lazy critics into more responsible behavior when they think about and write about music. An article such as this one by Mr. Southall is just plain silly, and to preface the list with some bravado-laced comment about his lack of desire to ever be in a band is a lie--anyone who's ever thought this deeply about performing covers or recording them is obviously feeling some kind of desire to play music. Lastly, I don't hate you guys, but I do hate bad music and critics who encourage belief in their own infallibility--and the whole rock community is overflowing with both right now. At least Stylus has the guts to link comments directly to articles, unlike many other music 'zines out there who shall remain more profitable and far more annoying than Stylus. But I have flogged many a thought on this site; maybe it's time for me to show that I can take it as well as I give it out.
Posted 09/09/2007 - 05:02:22 PM by florenz6:
 The next Robert Wyatt album "Comicopera" will contain some gorgeous cover versions, for example Anja Garbarek´s "Stay Tuned" or "Hasta Siempre". He makes them all his own, like he did with the unsurpassable performance of "Shipbuilding". And Eno will be part of the record, too, with a heavily treated "enotron". See ya!
Posted 09/10/2007 - 05:42:24 AM by NickSouthall:
 I know this one ran on a Thursday, but the Top Ten lists at Stylus generally run on a Friday, and are written as such; i.e. as a light-hearted bit of fun. We generally turn them round quite quickly from idea to published article, and they're not (generally) intended as being big, important pieces (despite often getting more hits than the big important pieces!). It's MEANT to be a bit of silly for Friday morning, and if anyone's perceiving the intro as 'bravado' then that's an inference rather than an insinuation. This piece is literally just a list of songs I like singing (along to), and I added the 'recording an album of covers' conceit as just that; a conceit, a little hook to give the piece slightly more substance than 'Top Ten karaoke choices at the Stylus Ice Cream Social".
Posted 09/10/2007 - 02:11:17 PM by florenz6:
 Nick, i´m quite sure you will fall in love with track no. 12 from the forthcoming masterpiece of Robert Wyatt. As soon as you will own your copy, don´t hesitate to learn the lyrics of track no.12 for shower rituals on Sundays and daydreaming during early autumn days - (yes, it´s a cover version, what else)- it will blow your mind. It begins like this: "E´stato un tiempo il mondo giovane e forte, odorante di sangue fertile, rigoglioso di lotte, moltitudini, splendeva pretendeva molto... Famiglie dinne incinte, sfregamenti, facce gambe pance braccia..." No idea what it´s about, you don´t need to know...
Posted 09/21/2007 - 12:13:46 PM by axiomatic:
 as a long-time stylus reader and former stylus writer - FUN PIECES ARE FUN. half of my own columns, when i wrote them, were pontifications on the connections between my own musical obsessions and my ex-girlfriends (a la rob fleming) rather than anything poignant or relevant. if you really get down to it, music criticism is a dry, boring job unless you find ways to make it more interesting. great piece, nick.