Thursday, 5 May 2011

EP Review: Franz Ferdinand - Covers

Released: 2nd May
Label: Domino

Originally released for Record Store Day I was absolutely gutted that I didn't manage to pick up a copy of this EP of Franz Ferdinand songs covered by some top artists. Luckily it was announced pretty close to the actual release date that the EP was getting a full release. Well, I was pretty damn happy with that, because even though Franz have milked Tonight for all that it's worth (Blood dub mix album, Live album available from the shows, a Remix 12” etc) the line up really is top notch.

Debbie Harry is backed by the boys themselves for a run through of 'Live Alone'. Quite nicely it's not simply a re-recording of the vocal by the Blondie legend but a completely new version that blends Franz's way with folkier arrangements to the new wave that made both Ms Harry and FF famous. Backing vocals are cooed seductively and even if Harry's voice isn't what it used to be the version ends up rather dapper.

That's not the only take on 'Live Alone' on the five track EP however. And neither is it the best. Back in 2007 Franz supplied a cover of LCD Soundsystem's masterpiece 'All My Friends' for the single's B-Side, and now LCD return the favour. With Murphy's gang having split the need for this song in our lives becomes even greater, because even though it's not an LCD original the band pull it all out of shape turning 'Live Alone' into a sombre beauty akin to 'All I Want' from This Is Happening. Drawing out the close until the song collapses in on itself, LCD Soundsystem leave us with an clatter of piano and are gone.

Closest to the Franz Ferdinand original are classic New York post-punkers ESG with their take on 'What She Came For'. Chaotic and noisy it demonstrates perfectly how Franz Ferdinand have never moved away from their artistic roots, no matter what their critics claim. Fuzzier and with more cowbell perhaps, but ESG stay thrillingly close to the source material through a shared set of reference points.

The remaining contributions come from Magnetic Fields man Stephen Merritt and Peaches who tackle 'Dream Again' and 'Turn It On' respectively. Neither takes any turns that cannot be expected, with the Peaches contribution being cut from the same cloth as her Stooges 'Seek And Destroy' cover. Pulsing bass and throbbing electro is the order of the day and it remains pretty damn sexy. Merritt on the other hand takes the hazy folk of 'Dream Again' and turns it into hazy dream pop. It's worth remembering here what a fantastic songwriter he is at this point (remember, it was him who gave us 'The Book Of Love') and to say that the Franz song slots perfectly into his cannon is a compliment to both artists.

And that's the point really. Franz have suffered critically of late, and by bringing in the revered to cover their tracks in relatively true ways demonstrates not only how Franz Ferdinand are a fantastic band with integrity and vision but how their pop sensibilities and mainstream success haven't eroded at their creativity or artsiness. Roll on Album #4.

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