V/A – A Houseguest’s Wish

25 years ago the influential group Wire recorded the classic ‘Outdoor Miner’, a surprisingly poppy song, released on the album “Chairs Missing” and later in an extended version as a single. As sort of a tribute, Words On Music has assembled interpretations of this song by 19 artists from five countries. Some artists from their own stable are included (Fiel Garvie, Should and The Meeting Places) and furthermore a wide variety of other acts, with Lush and Adam Franklin (Swervedriver) probably the best known ones.

So, let’s get this straight. 19 (nineteen) times the same song one one disc. Isn’t that terribly boring? No, actually not, since there is such a wide variety of musical styles present that you often forget that every artist deals with the same song material. Above all the overall quality of the music is very high. Considering the musical of Words on Music, I was not surprised that most music falls in the category of soft indie / dreampop.

I won’t mention every version here into detail, but there are plenty of enjoyable contributions on “A houseguest’s wish”. Adam Franklin starts the compilation, with a soft and lovely acoustic ballad with Americana influences. A really nice discovery for me is Titania (formerly The Sensualists), with a nice dreamy version somewhere between psychedelic pop and shoegaze. Would certainly like to hear more of them! The restrained version of Polar also works for me, probably because of their use of a nostalgic organ. The singer makes me think of Neil Young a little.

Typewriter contributes a solid, more uptempo indie version, while Fiel Garvie sounds surprisingly noisy compated to for their usual output. The cover by Lush was already recorded in 1991 and reminds me again what a nice band they are, with their lovely female vocals and shimmering guitars. The distorted track by Flying Saucer Attack takes us back to the early days of Jesus & Mary Chain, while Boy Division is also entertaining with their punky version reminding me of the rawer work by The Fall.

The Meeting Places impressed me so much with their debut album, and don’t disappoint here with a spontaneous sounding version of ‘Outdoor miner’. Should do it slowly, with a loungy, bossanova-like instrumental rendition. Last but not least, the contribution by Junetile is probably the most daring and weirdest one, but certainly a succeeded track.

artist: V/A
label: Words on Music
details: [WM10 61 min CD 11/04]