Cover story

Cover Story (36): Rave On. Buddy Holly or Steeleye Span

Author: Colin Randall

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Cover Story - same songs, different versions - has been running for a while now. This is a slightly unusual addition to the series ...

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

My paper round days started after Don McLean's. But I suspect I would have felt a little the same had the papers in my bag in the mid-1960s carried front-page news of Buddy Holly's death in an air crash.

Holly's music was difficult to dislike for young lads and lasses growing up during his tragically short career and for a few years afterwards. It was simple but irresistibly catchy; the lyrics expressed everyday emotions - ones we had or aspired to - and the tunes were memorable.

Rave On was among his best songs or rather one of the best songs he recorded since he didn't write it. I find no fault with it but - for the purposes of this, the 36th and latest edition of Cover Story - I do know of a version I like even more.

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Cover Story (35): Jack Haggerty - Touchstone, Tony Furtado or Celtic Mayhem

Author: Colin Randall

Just for fun and also because I never tire of hearing Jack Haggerty, I thought I'd combine nostalgia (Dipping into the Past via Salut! Live's extensive archive) and our regular look at different treatments of the same songs (Cover Story). Jack Haggerty, also known as Jack Hackety, is the first-person lament of a heartbroken raftsman on the Flat Rover in Michigan over the loss of the life of his life, the blacksmith's daughter Anna.


She cruelly announces she is to marry another ("to her mother, Jane Tucker, I lay all the blame," wails our hero. "For she caused her to leave me and slandered my name..." ).

The song dates form the 1860s and was written by one Dan McGinnis whose trades did include working the rafts. There are a number of versions out there and any competent singer or band should be able to give the song a decent shot. More of that later; one, for me, stands head and shoulders above all others. And that is where the nostalgia comes into the tale. What follows is based on what first appeared in one of the Salut! Live "Song of the Day" variants. *****

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Cover Story (34): Blues Run the Game. Jackson C Frank, Bert Jansch or Martin Simpson

Jackson C Frank

Salut! Live wishes its scores of readers, sometimes hundreds (OK 100+) as it is creeping up if slowly, a happy and healthy 2018. Cover Story, our look at the same songs by different singers, reaches its 34th instalment today.

It's a series that people seem to think has some merit and you can check the archive at this link. As ever, guest contributors are warmly welcome. And Andrew Curry, a fellow enthusiast of folk music and also a fellow, suffering Sunderland AFC supporter, has come up with a gem of an entry in the series.

Why didn't I think of Blues Run the Game as an obvious contender for the series? I love this song. I remember it being sung by my friend Phil Steele at the folk clubs we frequented or ran in the North East (or at least I think I do; the memory may be playing tricks). I remember Jackson C Frank's original and, in particular, I remember learning about Frank's tragic life. Andrew captures all the elements of a classic of contemporary folk and discusses other versions, too ...

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Cover Story: (33) Streets of London. Ralph McTell, or McTell with Annie Lennox for Crisis (homeless charity)


For two special editions of Cover Story, Salut! Live's series on different versions of the same songs, I am in the hands of a good friend Frank Gallagher, an exceptional musician and musical producer I first met through his work with Mary Black.

Frank does not know, unless he read the relevant piece, how I massacred Streets of London in my first taste of public performance in decades in the south of France earlier this year.

But now he tells me he is the producer of one exceptional new version, with the song's composer Ralph McTell joined by the redoubtable Annie Lennox with massive help from the choir of the charity Crisis, which works to combat homelessness and help its victims.

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Cover Story (32): Fairytale of New York. The Pogues or O'Hooley and Tidow

Roll up for the 32nd instalment in my series Cover Story , which looks at different versions of the same songs ...

Why am I even bothering with Fairytale of New York? As good a Christmas song as you'll encounter, a stirring melody and chorus plus Shane MacGowan's eloquent portrayal of being down and out in NYC, executed with punch and panache by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

Nothing, on the face if it, to dislike. But it has been done to death by excessive airplay and as many people now cringe as cry for joy when it comes on yet again. But there is a good reason for my interest to perk up, a new interpretation that deserves serious attention.

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Cover Story (31): The Little Drummer Boy. Sorry Bing, it's got to be Joan Jett or The Rural Alberta Advantage

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"The defendant shall stand. You have been convicted of serious offences and it is my duty to pass a sentence that serves as a deterrent. You shall be taken to a lawful place of punishment and made to listen non-stop for hours to Christmas songs by Slade, Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, Cliff Richard, Connie Francis, George Michael and an impossibly long list of other solo performers and groups, all of whom ought to have known better but fancied a whopping seasonal payday." Fairytale of New York would strike many as a rare exception to the dross, a good song well delivered by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, but how many hearts sink when it's played for the umpteenth time (52m visits to the two main clips of it at YouTube; 145,000 likes, 6,000 dislikes)? Today's judge is my friend, Bill Taylor. Let him take up the Bah Humbug story without mention of Fairytale (I reserve the right to return to it because of an interesting new version by an English duo of Irish backgrounds, O’Hooley and Tidow). And don't worry, he eventually gets almost sentimental about a song that some adore and others feel might have been best left unwritten ...

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