This is something I should have written ages ago but you know, better late than never. If you’ve ever read any of what I’ve written, you’ll have seen a lot about Anna CalvI. There are so many reasons as to why I pretty much idolise her- the main one being how she is just effortlessly cool. However, another reason is that covered a song I really love by one of the greatest bands of all time.
A while ago Anna covered Ghost Rider by Suicide. If you’ve heard the original, you’ll know just how brilliant it is. It’s this ferocious song that just rips right through you like a motorbike zig zagging on the road. Swerving in an out of traffic. Flirting with danger. How could anyone ever cover this song? How could anyone cover this song and still make it as amazing as the original? Could anyone? Of course. Anna Calvi’s cover of Ghost Rider is this wild and raw version of a song that, you never thought anyone could ever take on. You didn’t think anyone could take this song on. Alan Vega and Martin Rev made music that was so out there, so ahead of its time and so gritty. What has Anna done with this song? Pull up a chair. Here we go.
Her recorded version of this is around the 2.40 mark. There’s a live clip that I’ve obsessed over today that’s about 6 minutes. Irrespective of the duration, Anna makes this song sound like someone coming for your soul. The heart is throwaway here. The soul is what she wants between her teeth with the remains of you dripping off her guitar. That’s the beautiful feeling that Anna gives you with her music, and my god she enhances this with her take on Ghost Rider. The way she uses her guitar as a machine gun on this song is insane. It makes me want to throw stuff, break stuff and just go bananas. The intro to this song has always been something that covers me in goose bumps, but Anna does it in a way that just makes you turn to jelly. Her voice is almost like a whisper, then she lets out those yelps that just grip you. I love how Anna and Colette from TwoFiftyFour both have vocals that can be really delicate then can be straight up loud and powerful in such a beautiful way. It reminds of Shirley Manson. These three have such distinctive vocals, and I’m pretty sure all three of them could take on a song by Suicide and turn it into a masterpiece all over again. I’d love to hear Shirley take on Dream Baby Dream and Colette take on Johnny. Imagine!
Suicide had this sound that just made them really standout, and to take on their songs you better be tough and fearless with it. Anna takes on Ghost Rider and makes you feel like Suicide have covered it. She makes it her own and turns it into this monster emerging from the depths of a lake or a forest, and will eventually rise to give chase. Suicide make it sound like a smutty New York alleyway encounter. If this doesn’t appeal to you, then why on earth not. I love music that has this unclean feel, and Suicide always gave me that. I loved how their music always made (and still does) me feel like nothing else has. It is unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and that’s why I adore Anna’s version of Ghost Rider. Time and time again she makes me feel like I’m finding her music for the first time. For a band or singer to have this ability is something we should never take for granted.
The way how Anna sings Ghost Rider is so different to how it was sang by Alan Vega. Alan’s vocals are quite clear and prominent. Anna takes the song, sings it softly but you can hear this urgent breathing coming out as she sings. It sounds like she is being chased as she sings this or maybe she’s the one doing the chasing. I’m going to go with the latter. It’s like she is running after someone, telling them this tale and every time those yelps come out of her and her guitar just turns into this electrifying force, you feel as if she has caught up with you and done whatever she wants with you. She rips you soul from within and takes over it by the end of the song. Her songs have always felt like a film to me, so cinematic and Suicide have always done this too, I feel. I can totally see why she took this song on. It’s like it was made for her to cover. She goes beyond doing the song justice. As someone who is pretty much obsessed with Suicide, I am utterly in awe of Anna’s cover of this incredible song. It was one of the first songs I heard by Suicide, so it holds a bit of sentimental value to me. To hear a singer I absolutely adore take on a song by a band I am forever in awe of, and make it their own. To make them take this song someplace else and make you forget it is a cover just blows my mind.
We live in a world now where Alan Vega is no longer with us, and it’s something that’s pretty hard to take in. When he died, the loss really hit me. When I listen to Anna’s cover of Ghost Rider it eases the loss and longing for a band that are no more because she just makes it something else. She turned it into her own masterpiece.