The Electronic Sound Covers Collection Volume.02

Welcome to the second edition of our cover versions collection. The brilliant CD comes free with all print editions of Electronic Sound Issue 22. Your can order your copy here.

It’s been a real pleasure putting this one together, discovering that the fan impulse of the artists who created the cover versions is much the same as the rest of us. Chris Carter’s version of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man-Machine’ was recorded exclusively for us, as was R.O.C.’s cover of Devo’s ‘Come Back Jonee’. Another coup for this collection is Anomy’s brilliant take on Bowie’s ‘TVC15’. The band were based in New York City in the early 80s, and released just one, highly sought after single. Sourcing an original master tape wasn’t possible, so it was mastered here from the only available source; a copy of the original vinyl. Tracking Kia Portafekas down for a chat about it was another high point for us.

The CD is only available from Electronic Sound. You can get yours free with Issue 22 direct from

chriscarterCHRIS CARTER
“In the summer of 1979 while on the road with Throbbing Gristle I had ‘The Man-Machine’ album on rotation on my Walkman, that and ABBA,” recalls Chris Carter. “Nobody else in TG liked them, or ABBA come to think of it. Kraftwerk are often accused of being soulless and sterile, but they are so nuanced and crafted at what they do. Me and Cosey have been doing a lot of remixes recently so I approached this more like a remix than a straight cover. We’ve only ever done one cover in 40 odd years so it’s not a natural process… obviously that’s a lie because we covered a whole album, Nico’s ‘Desertshore’. Bloody musicians, can’t trust a word they say!”

“We first heard the Grace Jones version in the early 1980s,” says Laibach’s spokesman. “It was only later we heard The Normal’s version. We were convinced it was a cover of Grace Jones’s original. It gave us a good idea of how a cover can sound like a completely new song with its own meaning and form. We did it for Mute’s Short Circuit Festival at the Roundhouse in May 2011, to celebrate the label as well as Daniel Miller’s prolific genius. To mark Daniel’s fascination with Germany’s 1970s music scene we simply decided to ‘translate’ it into a German electro song, since no German version existed.”

“Oh Lordy, I first heard ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’ when it originally came out, in 1985,” recalls Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers. “The lyrics hit home because my grandad, dad and brother all died of mesothelioma [a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos]. We all worked in heavy industry, mainly for British Rail, but asbestos was still being used into the 80s in some countries, so the song was still relevant and its effects are still being seen. When I made this cover version I pretty much kept it intact and recognisable. The scream at the start is from the film ‘The Shout’. A John Hurt film with a scream that kills. It’s not a happy song!”

“’Shack Up’ first appeared on my radar during my teenage Factory Records obsession, a seven-inch by a Certain Ratio from the Benelux division if I remember correctly,” says Sci-Fi Steven of Bis. “I’d never heard the clunky disco original [from 1975 by Washington DC funk band Banbarra] until one night at the Optimo Espacio club in Glasgow. Both versions share an awkward funk only humans can produce, so we decided when doing our version to stiffen it right up. It was recorded for a Factory Records tribute EP and was inspired by the European electro scene of the early noughties. It probably lost us our few remaining punk fans, but it’s one we’re still proud of.”

“This version of ‘L.A.’ comes from ‘Globo’s This Nation’s Saving Grace’, our cover of The Fall album in its entirety,” says the band’s Paul Thompson. “We were partly inspired by Laibach’s cover of  The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ album, which somehow managed to disregard the original, and revere it at the same time. Our version is a mutant synthpop distortion of The Fall track. The project took about a year and we played it live once for a DVD, which we presented at an academic conference on The Fall at Salford University where we met Mark E Smith’s sisters and mum. They seemed very pleased with what we had done.”

“I covered two songs by Cabaret Voltaire, ‘The Crackdown’ and ‘Just Fascination’,” says Billie Ray Martin. “When ‘The Crackdown’ album came out, it changed a lot of things. These songs were played alongside all kinds of hits of the day, all without selling out or compromising their sound. I wanted to express the energy I felt bubbling inside of me for this music. I don’t think my versions can ever match the quality of the originals, but I wanted to have a go. It was the blog AudioPorn Central who had the idea of creating a bunch of mixes and they contacted all these remixers I didn’t know. I was thrilled with the results.”

“Devo did one of the best covers ever with ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’,” says R.O.C.’s Patrick Nicholson. “It honours the original by blowing it up. It’s such a brilliant record, like Picasso rearranging a face. Their irreverence was a spur to us. I only heard ‘Are We Not Men…’ properly a few years ago, it’s full of edges and angles, but ‘Come Back Jonee’ has a romance to it. It sounds like Roy Orbison, with an old fashioned pop tune among all the robot talk. Our approach was to try to get some distance from the original, so hopefully it ended up sounding like it’s our song. It feels like pulling it apart and rebuilding it, ideally with no idea where you’re going.”

“I loved this song as a teenager,” reveals Simeon Bowring, aka Pentatonik. “It had the perfect mix of angst and a mystical whimsy, laced with that sense you’d lost something you might never get back, that love would never be the same again. I wanted to make a version where the vocals hung like poetry over a pulsating mass of synths. I really wanted to get a female take on the lyrics, a change of perspective from Robert Smith’s original damaged boy feel. I was able to work with Sian Ahern [of experimental band Sian Alice Group and lead singer in Eaux] who has the most ethereal delicate voice, it hangs in the air like a whisper.”

hannahpeelHANNAH PEEL
“‘Electricity’ is one of those riffs you just know,” says Hannah Peel. “Maybe living in Liverpool I had it ingrained into my psyche. I was really lucky to meet Andy McCluskey one day after recording some violin for a band. At the time, I’d just punched all the holes out to ‘Tainted Love’ on the music box so it was a moment of, ‘This is fate, I’ll go home and start making another one’. I sent it to him and Paul Humphreys and thankfully they loved it! I made the track by scoring and then punching out every individual note. It’s like the early computers reading from punched patterns. Like analogue synths, the music box has breath and nuances from the turning of the cogs.”

“The most inspirational artist for us was David Bowie,” says Anomy’s Kia Portafekas of their ultra-underground 1981 release. “We heard the song when it was first released in 1976 and loved it immediately. It was a bit surreal with an intricate catchy rhythm combined with Bowie’s lively vocal expression. We read that it was based on an Iggy Pop anecdote about a girlfriend who was eaten by her TV set. We wanted to do a Bowie cover, but it had to be a song that was linked with the musical avant-garde approach that Anomy expressed through their own compositions. Our main goal was that it had to be fun and danceable, à la Anomy style… and it was! Thanks Bowie.”

Click here to get your copy of the Covers Collection Vol.02 today. Only available from Electronic Sound.

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issue 22 copyIssue 22 of Electronic Sound

Featuring Yello – Gary Numan – Silver Apples – Wrangler – Chicory Tip – Warpaint – Factory Floor – Our bumper album review section – The latest tech – FREE Covers Collection Volume.02 CD – And so much more. ONLY £5.99 – Click here to order now