Monday, November 10, 2008

Anything Could Happen

Here are three versions on the same song, The Clean’s “Anything Could Happen”. The two covers don't deviate too far from the original but as it’s one of my favourite songs ever—one that I can never skip past on my iPod without listening to—that’s no bad thing.

The Clean's take, released in 1982 on Flying Nun records, is like the early Postcard records period Orange Juice tracks of a couple of years earlier in that if you listen carefully you can hear the incipient birth cries of indie, especially in the jangly post-Velvet Underground guitars and classic pop structure. There's nothing twee here though—anything could happen and it's most probably bad.

Wingtip Sloat were part of the early-nineties wave of lo-fi bands (along with Guided by Voices and Pavement) that for me are a full-stop to what Casey Kasem on America's Top Ten always called 'the rock era'. This was the final gasp of analogue recording (here reduced to a 4-track), the last time that every city had an independent record shop with a rack full of seven-inches, and before notions of an 'underground' would be forever scrambled by the info-sprawl of the internet and blogs like this one giving shit away for free. Even though they existed on a diet of bonghits, watery brews and takeout tacos, Wingtip Sloat add US rock muscularity and distortion to the original template.

No-fidelity isn’t a thing of the past though. Now we're far enough from the nineties that Pavement are getting dbl-disc retrospectives of their albums there's a new wave of lo-fi. Times New Viking take “Anything Could Happen” further into tape-hiss illegibility by recording their version to one-track (a boombox) and ending up with a drum sound like a rock hitting a typewriter.

(Wingtip Sloat stay true to their obscurantist beginnings here with a single post blog).

The Clean – Anything Could Happen
Wingtip Sloat – Anything Could Happen
Times New Viking – Anything Could Happen

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