When a band/singer covers a song and it sounds exactly like the original, it’s pretty dull. When they take the song and make it their own, that’s when you know you’ve found something rather special. Cat Power’s covers usually sound better than the original because she seems to put a lot more into it. She’s someone who makes it easy to pick up on every feeling imaginable when you hear her sing, whether it be her own song or a cover.
Dum Dum Girls have covered a number of songs and I probably should just list them all to make it easier (for myself) but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a solid 5. I’ve looked over it a few times and so far, I don’t think I want to change it but there’s still time.
Sorrow (The McCoys)- Aside from being known for their massive hit, Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys sang the gorgeous Sorrow which has been covered by many mod bands in the 60s. Dee Dee’s take on the song is stripped back and her voice adds vulnerability to it which is slightly missing from any other version I’ve heard. All this song does is show you how delicate Dee Dee’s voice is and how she makes you feel she wrote this song for you to really REALLY feel in your gut. With all songs Dum Dum Girls have covered, they manage to make you feel like the song was never created by another, and it is such a hard thing to do. It’s a hard thing to do well,and they truly exceed any expectations someone may have from a cover song.
Sight Of You (Pale Saints)- Their cover of this makes me want to take a long walk through New York City in the bitter cold during a blizzard. They make this shoegaze classic into a psychedelic whirl, you feel as if you’ve dropped acid and are in the late 80s/early 90s at some kind of Mancunian party with The Stone Roses. It is a stunning cover, it’s one of my favourite covers ever because like with The McCoys cover, you really do feel as if Dee Dee sat down one day and poured her heart and soul into this timeless song. Sight Of You is one of those songs (for better and worse) that makes you think of someone your brain shouldn’t. It happens to us all, it doesn’t matter who you are. There’s less pain in their version but more sadness. Sure the two are linked, but pain and sadness can be so different at times which is why I love their version of this song. It’s a euphoric gem, DDG style.
Be My Baby (The Ronettes)- Maybe I shouldn’t mention this one because the quality of the video online isn’t too great, but Be My Baby is easily one of the greatest songs ever written and many who have covered it have really not done it justice at all. What caused me to become a fan and fall freely in love with Dum Dum Girls music was their ability to sound like a 60s girl band, mixing wall of sound with a strong Punk DIY ethic. I adore that so much, and a lot of bands I love manage to capture that feel in their music. Personally, I feel Dee Dee’s vocals are wonderful to listen to because she reminds me so much of singers I love such as Ronnie Spector, Shirley Manson and Patti Smith. When you see DDG live, you can see the attitude and strength of those singers when she performs. If anyone can do this song justice, it is Dum Dum Girls.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)- For me, covering a song by The Smiths or Morrissey is sacrilege. But, I can make exceptions when the cover is equally as great as the original. The Smiths version makes you feel alright with feeling lost, vulnerable and alone. Dum Dum Girls cover is a breath of life. It isn’t as sullen as The Smiths, but there is something equally fragile about it. There is no other band that I can think of that could make this song feel right as a cover. This song is one I hold dear to me, like most fans of The Smiths/Morrissey do. If they were to cover another song by them I would definitely love to hear them take on Please,Please,Please Let Me Get What I Want. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dee Dee could hammer home the vulnerability and sacredness of that song. They could probably cause you to breakdown if they covered I Know It’s Over.
Zombie (The Cranberries)- I found this clip on YouTube by accident, and sometimes accidents are wonderful things. This live clip is bloody brilliant. Dee Dee gets the pain across in this song, Zombie is full of pain and rage. Dee Dee unleashes this so beautiful with Andrew, Sandy, Jules and Malia adding fuel to the fire. This is definitely my favourite cover they’ve done so far. You can tell they’ve played this song over and over, and have paid close attention to every tiny little detail in the song and created their own version which doesn’t shy away too much from the original. I would love them to put this in their live shows as it really shows how strong they are as a band. Dee Dee has a delicate voice, and is so clear. With this cover of Zombie, even a non fan of the band would fall in love. Although it doesn’t take much from the original, they all manage to convey the message of the song and make it still as powerful and relevant more than before.
Of course it is worth mentioning that their version of Oh Those Eyes (The Vagrants) and Baby Don’t Go (Sonny Bono) are nothing short of stunning, and there are so many songs I’d love to hear them take on. In particular I’d love to hear them do a version of I Think I’m Paranoid and/or The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, and probably You Look So Fine by Garbage. That would be perfect. Ask The Angels by Patti Smith, I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses and Who Loves The Sun by Velvet Underground, maybe something by Nick Cave for sure. I could go on and on, but you get my point. They just take songs and make you forget they are covers. Not only does it make them stand out as a band but it just makes me love their music even more.
I love the way that Dee Dee takes a cover and makes it her own and I love her version of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” (it’s actually my favourite Morrissey and Marr composition) and alongside Sandie Shaw’s cover of “I Don’t Owe You Anything” and Janice Whaley’s magnificent “The Smiths Project) is my favourite Smiths’ cover. But my favourite DDG cover is Dee Dee’s killer take of Strawberry Switchblade’s “Trees and Flowers.” I’m old enough to have seen them back in the day and was lucky to catch a killer live version on DDG’s last tour – sent shivers down my spine.