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Song of the day – 374: King Q4 (with two Nirvana cover versions thrown in)

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King Q4

I’m sorry. I don’t like doing this, because I like to post the video direct. I didn’t want you to miss out, though. Some crazy-ass French electronica Clapping Music band covering ‘Love Buzz’ with a refined yet trippy abandon. Here. Go to the MySpace and have a listen. I think you’ll really enjoy yourself.

UPDATE: I’ve been sent the video. Sweet. Here it is. Gorgeous.

It’s like The Flying Lizards covering ‘Money’, with way more of a trance element. The reading is minimal and stripped-back, and – like the Flying Lizards’ deceptively dispassionate re-reading of what had become too much of a rock staple for comfort – they’ve taken ‘Love Buzz’ to a very different place, far away from Rock And Roll Halls Of Fame. In this, I’m reminded of Little Roy’s awesome reggae reworking of Nirvana’s ‘Sliver’ + ‘Dive’ that showed up a couple of weeks back, wherein the singer proved that Nirvana’s songs lay themselves surprisingly open to sensitive Studio One-style makeovers, as might be imagined by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Haven’t heard it yet? Treat yourself again.

The King Q4 version of ‘Love Buzz’ is quite extraordinary. It build, it solidifies, it menaces and it trespasses so finely.

And yes, of course I know that Nirvana didn’t do the original. Duh. Here it is now.

I guess it’s a great song, one that bears up to diffuse reinterpretations. This bears out Princess Stomper’s theory that it’s The Song that’s all-important (a theory I don’t hold much truck with usually, incidentally).

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As I wrote in Nirvana: The True Story

I recall opening the package of records in the Maker’s reviews room, on the 26th floor of King’s Reach Tower, on London’s South Bank – placing the singles onto the turntable and leaping up onto the table in my excitement, dancing deranged high above the ground, as astonished editors walked by. I played them over and over, scarcely believing my ears. Before Seattle, I’d never been exposed to rock, avoided its clothing and deceits. Punk in 1977 had seen to that. It’s unlikely I would have been half as enthusiastic about Seattle and its music if I, like my American counterparts, had grown up on a diet of Led Zeppelin and hardcore. But I hadn’t, and neither had most of my British contemporaries. Reared on a constantly changing musical culture where the press determined that bands grew old very quickly, we were always on the look out for the thrill of the new. Consequently, I was able to write about what was essentially traditional rock music with real enthusiasm. The Sub Pop rock bands, both in spirit and in sound, were new to this naïve English boy.

I reviewed three unknown Pacific Northwest singles together: The U-Men’s ‘Solid Action’, [Nirvana’s] ‘Love Buzz’ and Some Velvet Sidewalk’s ‘I Know’, making them US Singles Of The Week. I wrote:

Some more serious disorder from Seattle. Singles of the … fuck it! Whatever time-period you want, babe! These shit-kicking muthas make ANYTHING released previously sound positively lightweight in comparison.

The U-Men single keeps grinding on in there like a DEMENTED cat force-fed Motörhead at 78rpm, or Dinosaur Jr stuck in a time field of Green River shaking down The Stooges. “SOLID ACTION! IF I EVER FIND BILL WE’RE GONNA RIDE A BUS! ACTION! SOLID ACTION!’” That’s how the lyrics go; sometimes frenzied, other times highly frenzied. But they always have warm red POP tunes coerced in underneath. Blistering.

Nirvana are beauty incarnate. A relentless two-chord garage beat which lays down some serious foundations for a sheer monster of a guitar force to howl over. The volume control ain’t been built yet which can do justice to this three-piece! WHAT IS GOING DOWN OVER THERE? Someone pass me a gun. Limited edition of a thousand; love songs for the psychotically disturbed.

‘I Know’ has marginally less structure, but oodles more trebly feedback. There are only two members in this group? HUH? So why are my fucking ears bleeding?! Dementia personified; especially the songs on the flip. Steve Fisk and Calvin Johnson were present at the recording. That might go some way towards explaining some of all this … The International Pop Underground marches on.

Here were bands that achieved what I had thought hitherto impossible: they made metal sound cool. During the mid-Eighties, pop music was anti-guitar. You couldn’t pick up a music paper in the UK without reading someone telling you guitars were old and dead and phallic symbols of repression. [Sub Pop owners] Jon and Bruce’s stroke of marketing genius was to push rock’n’roll as rebellion – an ancient credo – while allowing people to listen to big dumb rock and retain their hipster credibility. Up until grunge, there had always been a line drawn between popular and underground music; Journey on one side, Dead Kennedys on the other. People got beat up for being punk rock, especially in the US.

Sub Pop confused that line once and for all.

And of course, there’s always this.

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