7 October 2009

Yet More Beatles Covers - Avenue Recordings Ltd (and David Byron)


Label: Avenue
Year of Release: 1969

Discarded budget cover version albums and EPs are bog-standard charity shop fare up and down the United Kingdom.  Some people regard these waxings with affection, believing them to be interesting and entertaining reinterpretations of hits.  Others - and I have to confess, I'm one of the others - feel that they're a bit of a waste of space on the whole, and unless there's some spectacularly odd attempt to nail a style which falls uniquely and entertainingly flat, there's not a lot to be said for them.  I've heard more anaemic, clock-watching rock cover versions on these records than I feel I ever needed to, and the conclusion I've drawn is that they're not a good talking point.

There are exceptions to the general rule, however, and this EP may be one of them.  Many artists who went on to a greater degree of success recorded for the likes of Avenue, Pickwick, Embassy and Contour, knocking out quickie covers of hits for small wedges of money.  Elton John and David Bowie are two of the most famous artistes to bother the budget studios for some spare cash, Elton recording enough to see his attempts reissued on to one full-length CD recently.  There's a certain thrilling absurdity to hearing Reginald Dwight sing "Young, Gifted and Black", or treating your ears to Bowie's unique vocal whine working its way through "Penny Lane".  The logic of entering recording studios for the pair was purely monetary, given that they were both struggling musicians for years before earning a serious living.  Elton seems to regard his efforts with slight embarrassment these days, whereas Bowie's opinions are unrecorded - although the album "Pin Ups" would suggest that he hadn't quite got the covers bug out of his system by the seventies.

Plenty of other musicians recorded for the labels, though, and naturally others went on to success, too.  If the Internet is to be believed, David Byron, the lead singer of seventies rockers Uriah Heep, puts his tonsils around John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" on this particular EP (a fact I only realised after doing a bit of research after buying it).  The version obviously rocks considerably harder and has a great deal more teeth-gritting angst and geetar riffage about it than Lennon's slightly docile original, and Byron makes the song sound very much his own rather than bothering to attempt to make it sound like a carbon copy.  Given that I actually think "Cold Turkey" is probably one of Lennon's weaker efforts I'm still not sold on the song itself, but this is worth pricking your ears up for once, despite the weak quality of the vinyl it originated from.

Elsewhere on the EP, another session muso who probably never got to achieve any degree of fame works his way through a slightly saccharine cover of Harrison's "Something", which fails to really reinterpret or even successfully replicate the original.  Still, you can't have it all - and huge apologies for the jumps and scratches you'll hear in places, and the poor sound quality which I believe has more to do with the standard of the original pressing than anything else.  I've tried remixing this to improve the results, but it's not easy work. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody had used this record to eat their dinner off at some point.

Like a tool, I've also lost this record somewhere in my increasingly cluttered flat, so what you see above is a scan of another Avenue disc taken from the fantastic Seventies labels site.  If the owner objects to its use, please do drop me a line and I'll take it down - I'll probably take it down as soon as I locate the actual copy of what I'm providing here anyway.

Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town
Cold Turkey
Baby I Know

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good stuff.i love those cover version LP's-I Cant get get enough of em (Got over a hundred of em :)