The Gordon Lightfoot hit given a strange New Wave interpretation
Year of Release: 1980
To a lot of people in the UK, Gordon Lightfoot is essentially a one-hit wonder, a Canadian curiosity whose sole chart entry "If You Could Read My Mind" occasionally gets airplay on Radio Two, or used in television soundtracks. It's a situation I've never quite got my head around. Skip across the ocean to Canada (or the USA for that matter) and he's something of a legend. Bob Dylan referred to him as the greatest folk singer of all time, and while I perhaps wouldn't stretch my praise that far, his LPs are all worth a punt, and usually turn up in the bargain bucket of your local second hand record emporium. Buy them at low prices while you still can - a record store cashier recently told me they're selling far faster than they used to. Quality and class always gets noticed in the end.
The New Wave band Drill, who we've already featured on the blog with their single "Juliet", clearly had a certain fondness for Lightfoot, as they decided to take his sole British hit and inject it with their own inimitable style. Listening to it for the first time is a jarring experience. It's such a complete retooling of the track that it's initially barely recognisable, and you've got to give the group credit for not making this a slightly idle, angry punky facsimile.
Is it actually any good, though? I'm not sure. There are moments where it threatens to go to some very interesting places, but the considered, introspective melody of the original track is hampered by the slightly self-conscious, psychotic quirkiness of the vocals and those "eighties early evening quiz show theme" keyboard sounds and drum patterns. It's a fascinating curio, though, and definitely an unexpected addition to the New Wave oeuvre.
The flip is "Pretty Girls" again, which was also the B-side to "Juliet" in our last Drill entry. Don't ask me why.
As also mentioned before, the band seemed to be primarily a vehicle for bass player and songwriter Chris Constantinou, who later went on to work with Adam Ant, Anabella Lwin, and Guy Chambers. He remains an in-demand session musician.