Ahk-toong Bay-Bi Covered – Q Magazine Tips Their Hat to U2 in the Most Flattering Way Possible

Cover of "Achtung Baby"

Cover of Achtung Baby

When I finally switched formats, from tape cassettes to compact discs (cds for the youngins), I can claim, not without a hint of musical snobbery, that U2’s Joshua Tree was my first purchase. Sure, my collection prior to this was littered with the remnants of a tween girl’s love for sugary sweet chick pop (“pop” could be too kind a label, I rocked Expose, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey…). But, the moment U2’s seminal album made it into my hot little hands, I was hooked.  I had a sony discman, and every time Joshua Tree started spinning, my mind wandered, got lost in the roads of sounds, the crunchy rhythms and clean harmonics that rang throughout, and the heady lyrics inspired by the ultimate existential and spiritual journey.

At some point thereafter, Achtung Baby made its way into my lexicon.  If Joshua Tree represents the hopeful, transcendent search for a little old-time religion, Achtung Baby is its antithesis – a sometimes dark journey into obsession, destructive relationships, and the grittier shades reality can sometimes take on, especially apparent in songs like “Acrobat” and “Love is Blindness”.  The often satirical excess was evident in their tours, which harbored ornate stage set-ups complete with walls of television screens and even a belly dancer (who notoriously caught the eye of The Edge, they’ve been together since the Zoo Tv tour). However, some joy is definitively still evident on the album, especially in songs like “Ultra Violet (Baby Light My Way)” and “Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World”.

Q Magazine, a publication I am woefully unfamiliar with,  has released their latest issue not only featuring U2 on its cover, but also with the free offering of an included cd: “Ahk-toong Bay-Bi Covered,” in answer to the 20th year anniversary of U2’s masterwork. The album features the entire track listing of U2’s original “Achtung Baby,” but with songs helmed by formidable musicians offering up their own unique interpretations. It looks like geography informed most of the choices, as many of the performers hail from over the pond, including England, Ireland, and Scotland.  However, tracks by American performers like The Killers, Patti Smith, and NIN are at home among the finished work.

I have always been hard to please when it came to U2 covers. Given, I do a song or two of theirs at open mic myself so I embrace the hypocritical, but Bono is a bit of a hard act to follow. My rule of thumb has typically been a good cover song takes only the most basic of frameworks from the original,  and generally benefits from some creative re-working. It should be recognizable as the original song, but just barely. Q’s cover album mostly manages to succeed at this. There are a few lackluster tunes, but mostly it’s an exciting time seeing the new places these songs go.  Damien Rice gives “One” his unique treatment of sparsity, and brutal emotional honesty – you can almost hear the sighs littering his lyrical delivery. Patti Smith deconstructs “Until the End of the World” into a dirge-like piano ballad. Garbage’s version of “Who’s Gonna Ride My Wild Horses” has their signature electronic flair and maintains its original desperation as evidenced by lead singer Mason’s often breathy phrasing. In their take on “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”,  The Killers masterfully capture the charm and bliss present when U2 first recorded track. Jack White channels Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in a delightfully raw rendition of “Love is Blindness”.  This cover album us one to miss at your own risk.

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Nagi Noda – Bizarre Conceptual Art – Animal Hairstyles to

I stumbled upon Nagi Noda with the posting of several of her fascinatingly bizarre animal hair styles:

 

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Doing an image search on google will certainly bring up more of these. It turns out, however, that Noda embraced multiple mediums – creating art in the form of music videos, film, fashion, and more. She sadly died last year at the young age of 35 due to complications in surgery to address pain issues she was having from a previous car accident.

Noda is pictured below:

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These are two of the more amusing videos she made unique:

This one is a coke add with Jack White singing the add (hmmm):

Her official site can be accessed at:

Nagi Noda official site

 

It Might Get Loud, and I Hope it Does

I saw a fantastic documentary the other night at the Red River in Concord about the Edge, Jack White, and Jimmy Page.

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By the time it was done I was bouncing around with inspired energy (it doesn’t take much). The movie focuses on their roles as guitarists but also revolves around the three of them meeting and the conversation that emerges. All aspects of their personal stories are enhanced by creative elements of clever filmography, animation, and archived video footage of artists that inspire the trio. One really exciting component to it, is that none of their stories are told in the same manner or exact same format. Each story is told in a manner that compliments the musician. Jack White’s segments are bizarre and  (several scenes involve him talking to a nine-year old version of himself) no nonsense, Edge’s are clean and reflective. Jimmy Page seems a suprisingly gentle and relaxed sort of fellow; out of the three, his voice seems to be the most embodied in the instrument itself. It’s amusing to see the sense of awe laced on the faces of edge and white when page starts noodling around on his double-necked guitar. The film so satisfyingly ends with a collective rendition of the Band’s song “The Weight” (you know it… “Take a load off Fanny/Annie  and put the weight right on me”).

Check out the official website here