Arts Desk

Leak Proof: Beck, Wu Tang Clan, She & Him, Gareth Williams

Beck: "I'm Waiting For My Man"
The Velvet Underground's original version of this song made scoring drugs sound exotic and cool. Beck's cover, on the other hand, is probably a little closer to reality. The second offering from the singer's Record Club website, where the singer will be covering The Velvet Underground & Nico in its entirety, is dense, sloppy, and out of tune. This is not the sound of hipsters slumming in urban bohemia but a long stroll to the drum circle with your bare-foot Dead-head neighbor. A different activity, for sure, but not one lacking in charms of its own.

She & Him: "Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, who perform together as She & Him, take a swipe at the most frequently covered of all Smiths songs for the soundtrack to Deschanel's new movie (500) Days of Summer. As those covers go, this is a pretty traditional rendering, with heaps of reverb and a gazillion overdubbed acoustic guitars. But Deschanel delivers the vocal with the requisite amount of melancholy and the cover holds its own just fine alongside The Deftones version.

Wu Tang Clan ft. Raekwon, Sean Price, and Cormega: "Radian Jewels"
It certainly sounds like Wu-Tang–synths strings, minimalist beats, Raekwon–but apparently "Radiant Jewels" and Chamber Music, the Rza produced record it comes from, is not a new Wu-Tang Clan record. Instead, according to a particularly confusing press release, it's just a record featuring new music made with participation from every member of the group and a live backing band that emulates the classic Wu-Tang sound. So maybe it's better than a "real" Wu-Tang record? Go figure.

Gareth Williams: "Anger of Fire"
Gareth Williams' role in This Heat, the experimental/post-punk band in which he performed during the early '80s, seemed somewhat subversive. While his band mates, drummer Charles Hayward and guitarist Charles Bullen, were traditionally skilled musicians, Williams approached things from a more naive and unschooled perspective. He mashed on a bizarrely tuned keyboard, played back tape collages, and fueled the group's more abstract and unpredictable moments. But "Anger of Fire," written years after Williams had departed from This Heat, is surprisingly tuneful. Built on two acoustic guitar chords and a reggae-inspired rhythm, it suggest that Williams, who passed away in '01, certainly had more in his head than noise.

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