John, eh? Big bad? B Goode? (Or even be good, Johnny*.) 99? Or should it be the still warm Winter, J, R.I.P, hoping it will be for someone. Cash, Paycheck, Copeland, and the Hurricanes? Cale, Mayall, Elton or the Dr himself? Too much choice, too much choice. So what could I think of? Why, only the same bloody thing as Darius, esteemed senior fellow SMM scriber, came up with a mere 5 years ago. D'oh! Too bad, but since when did that ever stop me? If imitation is flattery, surely plagiarism is more so? You judge.
Luckily I love a cover version, indeed collect them, so I'm not going to play this one , however brilliant it is. And it is. I might play this one, though , given its altogether simple revisiting, Winwood's voice having mellowed and matured in the decades between.
So what's my take on the song? Simples. It is no more and less a love song to beer, or more specifically, to ale, that curiously warm brown liquid we prefer on this island. Or used to. Ironically, as the never ending spew of yellow fizz seems to be slowing down elsewhere, given the surge of craft beers in the US and Australia, so the more brits are selling their palates to cheap froth, "brewed under licence". I can admire a good lager on it's home territory, but stealing/borrowing the name, and brewing a flaccid fauxsimile in a factory near Leeds is not quite the same thing. (Our american readers should not worry unduly here, Bud seems to be shit wherever it's made.) And anyway, a cold yellow beer needs something equivalently yellow, but hot, in the sky to cut it. I have been in Turkey for a week and the Efes brand hit the spot wonderfully there, but this is the United Kingdom. It has been thunderstorming since I returned. So as I type I have a trusty bottle of Old Hooky to my side from the world famous, well, in the Cotswolds anyway, Hook Norton brewery. And jolly wonderful it is too. Neither too strong or too weak. Just the thing for getting together in the country, and I am sure that Messrs Winwood, Wood and Capaldi were not unfamiliar with the fruits of this village, Hook Norton being also the name of its home.
But I ramble. Beer can do this. Lager makes you burble, but beer is a sturdier pilot. I am mentioning Traffic when I said I wouldn't, so with no further ado, I'll bet you didn't know Black Francis had turned his attention and interest to this song. Who'da thought it, with his sylph like, but nonetheless, it's true. To be honest, I was never a big fan of the Pixies in the day, but I remember when this LP came out in 2006, a little later than SMM usually prefers, and was intrigued 2 ways, firstly by the fact he was covering, OK, revamping near entirely, this song, but also that he was backed and produced by the legendary and exemplary Stax/Muscle Shoals team, producing one classy piece of work. Also includes a fab version of Ewan, father of Kirsty, MacColl's Dirty Old Town. And the, um, intriguingly entitled Kiss My Ring. It's called Fast Man, Raider Man, and is widely felt to be a follow up to the similarly eclectic Honeycomb of a year before.I highly endorse it. Clearly sold diddly, as he is back a-Pixillating as we speak.
*Why the asterisk? Just a memo to whomsoever covers Johnny B Goode to remember this antipodean oddity
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