What type of flattery can an artist ask for than to be covered by another band? On this weeks Covered series, washed out noise artists Spiritualized cover Junior Kimbrough’s song Sad Days, Lonely Nights.
The month of October has been dedicated to Delta Blues Artist Junior Kimbrough. Junior was a hard working man who made blues music for 40+ years, owned two juke joints, and fathered 27+ kids before he was discovered and recorded with Fat Possum records. Again, one of my favorite record labels of all time. His music is strong, hypnotizing, hauntingly beautiful, and always so lovelorn it gives you that sense of true pain that a blues musician feels.
One of his songs that best embodies this sense of aimless and fluidic movement of feeling is the song “Sad Days, Lonely Nights.” The titular song was released in 1992 on Junior’s second album. He would go on to only record one more album in 1997 titled “Do the Rump.” As previously stated, the reason why I enjoy this song is because it really sticks to the emotions and feelings that the blues can evoke in a listener. His lyrics are slightly garbled and lost in the blithering blues rhythms and heavy drum beat. This song is one that i imagine playing in a lowly shack down an aimless dirt road with people swinging and swaying. Moonshine flying around and people jiving and having a good time. Almost like the devil was on the jukebox and all were entrenched by his power. It’s a tour de force of music.
When the cover album “Sunday Nights: The Covers of Junior Kimbrough” was released in 2005, buzz and noise artists Spiritualized decided to take a stab at the song and add their own signature to the haunting piece of music. What I first expected from a cover like this was a lot of incoherent buzz and reverb from amplifiers and a loss of form and a provencial favoritism to making the music as dissonent as possible. Not to say anything negative about Spiritualism, I personally love that sound. But to say you love a band like that you really have to ask yourself, do you like them because they are a good band or do you like the novelty of them and it makes you look cool?
Spiritualized is an English alt-noise (or more accepted space rock) band formed in 1990 by Jason Pierce. Their music is very experimental focusing on the surrealist image that noise can bring to an audience rather than a traditional rock AABA format. In 1993, Spiritualized was asked to open for Depeche Mode and was booed and met with a lot of blank stares during the tour. However, they have been a heavy influence on many bands and their music has made me an avid fan of noise and sounds. I was first truly intoxicated by their sound on the album “Songs in A&E” released in 2008. Every song was literally composed in either A or E chords and was a concept album that at first I was greatly bored with but upon further listening ventures, I realized (and also if you play REALLY REALLY LOUD) the music was more of an emotional and qauntitative journey that could not be given the exposition of good or bad. But that understanding of emotion in music I believe makes them a great band to appreciate Junior Kimbrough.
Well first things first, yes, they do in fact bring in a lot of incoherent noise babble into the cover. But surprisingly, that is definitely in no way a bad thing. Instead of doing a straightforward cover, Spiritualized decided to maintain the emotion and feeling of the song. The repetitive guitar chanting, the heavy drum kit hits, and the droning chorus. But to add to the voodoo like intoxication and late night mindless dancing mood, they add the reverb as an accent to the song and allows for you to close your eyes and become transported to a world where your soul is set free and allowed for a moment to dance with the devil. The part that I liked about the cover the most is that instead of singing, they decided to remove most of the lyrics and maintain a strong focus on the mood that the song embodies. It is a great modernization of a fantastic Delta Blues classic and definitely worth a comparison.