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Dave Thomas and Two Pale Boys – Can’t Help Falling In Love (90s – 85)

May 27, 2013

I have a theory of cover verions: to make it really worthwhile you really have to make the song your own. There are exceptions of course. The Fall’s Victoria is fairly faithful but simple by opening his mouth does Mark E Smith own a song.

As does Dave Thomas. In the early Noughties I’d read a review of his Monster box set in the Wire. I can’t remember knowing about Pere Ubu, but the review was pretty insistent of it’s worth. At the time I was making periodic raids on Amazon UK, for me the cheapest and mostly likely to stock weird weird stuff of all the internet vendors at the time. Monster was listed as under $30AUD, a price which got me Thomas’ entire catalogue of 80s studio albums (bar one he disowned), plus a 90s live set from his collaboration with the Two Pale Boys, a trio of Thomas’ warble and accordian, electric trumpet and electric guitar.

Consider it bought.

The studio albums were interesting enough, featuring the likes of Richard Thompson and Henry Cow’s Lindsay Cooper, but it was the Two Pale Boy’s live set which left left me stumped. I had no toolkit for performance poetry over shards of sound. In fact it is only this year, when I heard the project’s two studio album I’ve finally gotten it.

But in amongst the craziness is this glorious rendition of the Elvis standard. Thomas murmer’s the lyrics, barely raising a tune. Guitar roughly clawed, the trumpet wistfully caws. This is raw yet restrained, a rare pause on the album.

This song because a staple of cover version episodes of me radio programs and mixtapes for the next few years. It was one of the few songs guarenteed to raise comment from casual listeners.

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