Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Mike Duquette is marvelling at…
“There Must Be More To Life Than This” (William Orbit Mix)
Queen + Michael Jackson
A pairing this royal–the King of Pop and Queen–seems almost too good to be true, though pop geeks can tell you this exciting track, one of three unreleased recordings featuring on a forthcoming Queen compilation this fall, has been a long time coming. Jackson and Freddie Mercury had met and collaborated not long after the release of Thriller in 1982, ultimately writing “More To Life” (first released on Freddie’s solo album Mr. Bad Guy) and “State Of Shock” (Mercury’s vocals were later replaced by a sleepwalking Mick Jagger on The Jacksons’ album Victory in 1984; nonetheless, the single was a Top 10 smash).
This new version, tastefully mixed by William Orbit, unveils a new set of tracks (likely a mix of old and new) that put the song firmly in the Queen canon. Brian May’s solos are typically fun and bombastic while the dual rhythm section of John Deacon on bass and Roger Taylor on drums adds some extra muscle to what is, at heart, one of the more tender tracks in the band’s discography. And, all record-company cynicism aside, it’s pretty great to hear the departed voices of Freddie and Michael (who already had a great posthumous album to his name this year), uniting to provide us huddled masses with the healing majesty of rock.
Sam Paxton is shimmying to…
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Days Of Abandon (Deluxe Edition)
Earlier this year, indie poppers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart returned with their excellent third studio album, Days of Abandon, their first since a lineup change shook the ranks. Kip Berman and co. recently announced that they would be releasing a deluxe edition of the LP, including five additional tracks not included on the standard release. This week, the band dropped the first song from the extended album, entitled “Poison Touch.” Said Berman of the track, “I wrote ‘Poison Touch’ for Taylor Swift, but I think her number was in my old phone. So I gave it to A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s Jen Goma instead.”
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine Swift’s country-turned-pop aesthetic on the track (and I’m sure Berman was joking anyway); regardless, Goma’s sweet, simple vocals elevate the track, merging well with the shuffling drums and chorused guitar. Goma’s vocal contributions were one of the best parts of Days of Abandon; her work on “Kelly” and “Life After Life” showed her to be a more than suitable replacement for previous singer Peggy Wang. Days of Abandon proved to be somewhat of a departure for the band, who seem to be moving away from their lo-fi roots, and“Poison Touch” proves that The Pains of Being Pure At Heart are resolved to continue on this excellent new trajectory.
David Lebovitz is relaxing to…
“Dying to Live” (Edgar Winter cover)
Tell ‘Em I’m Gone
Hot off his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and five years after the release of his last mainstream record, Yusuf Islam is finally set to release a new album this October. To promote the album, he released this single, a cover of Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live.” The former Cat Stevens made his name as a songwriter (and teenybopper but we don’t talk about that), and covers by him are few and far between, which should be enough to turn some heads. It also helps that it’s pretty darn good.
“Dying to Live” harkens back to Tea For The Tillerman-era Cat Stevens. It’s easy to see why Yusuf was attracted to this song, since its message of “appreciate life here and now” is kind of his Thing. Yusuf’s cover, while melodically similar to Winter’s original, is much more low key, less of a power ballad and more of a personal reflection and recommendation. He eschews Winter’s theatrics and high-flying vocal work for a stripped down, warm performance. Compare it to the differences between Spector version and the Naked version of the Beatles’ “The Long And Winding Road.” If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Yusuf’s fingers sliding down his guitar’s fretboard, which only makes it feel more like he was performing it specifically for you.
Even when performing others’ work, Yusuf hasn’t lost a step. His music has almost always been about warmth and love, and that shines through even over someone else’s words.