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Arts and Culture

Rave About the Machine

Florence and the Machine, the big winner on new Buddy Holly tribute.

By Thom Wong 7 Jul 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong writes regularly about music for The Tyee. He can also be found ruminating about the state of menswear at The Sunday Best.

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Florence Welch shows off her good bones.

I won't keep any secrets -- Rave On Buddy Holly, the entirety of which you can listen to on SoundCloud, contains some of the best songs I've heard in years. To fans of Charles Hardin Holley this will come as no surprise; the ur-hipster that changed his name to Buddy has been a favourite of music lovers since forever. In fact, you can probably irritate the hell out of most of them by announcing, loudly and fervently, how much better these covers sound than the originals.

Would you be right? Generally, no. For an album graced by such heartfelt renditions there are some woeful misfires: Lou Reed butchering "Peggy Sue", and Graham Nash's somnambulant "Raining in My Heart." You know those two are bad when Kid Rock comes across as pretty decent in comparison. What you do get: The Black Keys nailing "Dearest" while managing to add an extra verve to it; Cee-Lo Green channeling Elvis (who, let's be clear, channeled Holly) on "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care"; Fiona Apple reminding you why you might have once loved her with "Everyday." 

But the standout track comes courtesy of Florence + the Machine, whose second-line drumbeat inflected interpretation of "Not Fade Away", recorded while on tour in New Orleans, actually is an improvement on the original, Chirping Crickets version. Florence finds the grit in the lyrics and takes it to a different place altogether, the song becoming thick and, dare I say it, funky. Hopefully this points to where she'll go with her next album.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point you towards the cover of "Rave On" by M. Ward, which pre-dates this album by two years, and its thoroughly charming stop-motion video.  [Tyee]

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