The Joy of the Unlikely Cover

Girl listeningNot book covers but musical covers.  I am a big fan of genre-busting reworkings of famous songs, like Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode on his American IV album. In recent years entire albums have been produced that pick up this gimmick and run with it, verily like the wind.

Guns ‘n’ Roses have been given the bossa nova treatment (see this earlier post for more details) and Richard Cheese does superbly loungey things to Tool and Snoop Dogg on his albums.  You can also catch classic tracks from the 80s and 90s redone in a jazz vibe.  By far my favourite at the moment is the rockabye baby series of CDs which feature lullaby renditions of songs by such artists as The Ramones, The Cure, Björk, and The Smashing Pumpkins.  So if you’re raising a future headbanger (or Icelandic pop princess?) you might like to check this series out.

What’s your favourite unlikely cover of a song?  If you could have any artist cover any song what weird and wonderful combination would you dream up?

Rankin highly

Ian RankinIan Rankin was a polished yet human performer at his Literary Liaison in Christchurch recently. He’d obviously talked about his books and how he came to write them a million times before but he did it with good grace, good jokes and a good accent.

Unfortunately no one asked him who he likes to read, but he did mention Robert Louis Stevenson and Muriel Spark – in fact he dropped his doctoral thesis on Spark to write his first novel. Rankin loves the dark side of Edinburgh; the body snatchers Burke and Hare (although they were imports from Ulster) and Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Other writers who cropped up in conversation were two who live in the same street, or ‘writers’ block’ as it is known – J.K. Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith. Kate Atkinson, who will be visiting Christchurch for the writers’ festival next year (“you’ll like her, she’s good but she’s much more posh than me” said Rankin) lives a stone’s throw away.

Rankin chose the name Rebus because Morse was a code and a rebus is a puzzle. A few years after the Rebus books were first published, he met the only Rebus in the Edinburgh phone book, a man who happened to live on a street called Rankin. 

The old puzzle has proved difficult to bring to life on the small screen; New Zealand viewers have only seen one of the adaptations of the Rebus stories, the one starring John Hannah. Rankin prefers Ken Stott, who stars in another series yet to be seen here – Hannah is a nice guy but too young and too pretty to be Rebus.