The French outfit pick their worst - and best - covers...
Nouvelle Vague

French outfit Nouvelle Vague are a group that know a thing or two about cover versions, what with their three studio LPs to date basically being just that: collections of covers, primarily delivered in a slow-mo bossa nova style.

The difference on new album ‘3’ – out now on Peacefrog – is that the band has collaborated with a handful of original songwriters. So, you have Martin Gore guesting on Nouvelle Vague’s take on Depeche Mode’s ‘Master & Servant’, Barry Adamson on their version of Magazine’s ‘Parade’, and Ian McCulloch appearing on Echo And The Bunnymen’s ‘All My Colours’. Among the other songs covered, we have Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, Simple Minds’ ‘The American’, and Talk Talk’s ‘Such A Shame’

To mark the album’s release, Clash asked the band to compile a top ten of bad covers – seems they’ve come up with nine. And they actually like some of them. Close enough.

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Nouvelle Vague and Martin Gore – ‘Master & Servant’ (audio only)

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Marie Laforet – ‘Marie Douceur’
Well, this cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’, recorded in the ‘60s by great French singer and actress of the time Marie Laforet, has one quality: it makes you laugh (especially if you understand French lyrics). LISTEN

Patrick Topaloff – ‘The One That I Want’
We had some very funny things in France, back in the ‘70s – sorry, this is gonna be something of a ‘private French pick’ – like this Patrick Topaloff (more a comic than a musician, actually) rendering of Grease’s ‘The One That I Want’. The translation in his version was "where is my grey shirt?" LISTEN

Shirley Horn – ‘And I Love Him’
A Beatles cover on a very slow bossa nova beat. It’s got great vocals – I discovered this song like this and it’s very difficult now to listen to the original! LISTEN

The Stranglers – ‘Walk On By’
Covering this classic of Bacharach/Davies in a very psychedelic way was a brilliant idea: it sounds as if The Doors, on acid, had written the ultimate pop song. LISTEN

Claudine Longet – ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’
This is a really funny version, with Claudine is speaking on the verses with her incredibly strong French accent. I must admit, though, that the chorus is not that good... LISTEN

Caetano Veloso – ‘Billie Jean’
A great cover of a huge hit, this cover made me pay attention to the lyrics for the first time! There was even was a rumour in France that this version was actually the original one, and that Jackson had stolen it. It’s tres Nouvelle Vague. LISTEN

Stina Nordenstam – ‘Purple Rain’
Crazy, free cover of this classic from Prince, completely deconstructed by this great Swedish singer. It brings another meaning to the song. The whole of Stina's album of covers, ‘People Are Strange’, is great. LISTEN

Jo Lemaire + Flouze – ‘Je Suis Venu te Dire que Je M'en Vais’
This is a beautiful version of a Serge Gainsbourg song, recorded in the ‘80s by Belgian new wave artist Jo Lemaire. Here, the synths and programming make you cry even more than when listening to the original. LISTEN

The Specials – ‘Gangsters’
Almost nobody knew at that time that all the 2 Tone bands were having their first huge hits doing covers of Jamaican ska music. Strangely, they were recording versions quite close to the originals.

The Specials – ‘Gangsters’

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Nouvelle Vague’s ‘3’ is out now; find the band on MySpace HERE and see them live as follows…

10 Guildford Guildfest

16 London Roundhouse


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