Cover Battle – “Alison” October 17, 2014
The ballad “Alison” was written and originally performed by an artist whose music I’m really growing to enjoy – Elvis Costello. It comes from his first album, My Aim is True, which is also a line in the song. Mr. Costello is a skilled musician and a prolific songwriter, and has been entertaining multitudes of fans in a variety of genres for decades.
I’m not really all that into the studio release; it just seems there’s too much thrown into it. I’m partial to the live versions. They’re simpler, less cluttered and much more reflective (or introspective). Everything you hear has a purpose, as opposed to just being melodic filler, like the studio production.
When Elvis appeared on the Jonathan Ross chat show, we got an impromptu acoustic version. The first part of the video is an interview then at the 5:05 mark he performs a bit of the song.
The song was covered by Linda Ronstadt in 1978. Not my favorite. Generally, I’ve been a fan of a lot of her songs, but I don’t think this one worked for her. More importantly, it didn’t work for the song. It takes something away from it. And there’s a weird little saxophone periodically in the background, and then fading out at the end. Like – wtf is that even doing there?
Another version I can get behind comes from a favorite of mine, Holly Cole. She does it in her elegant torch song manner with a touch of a slower tempo. It’s quite nice.
The live performance from American Football is just … not good. I’ve never heard them before but I’m hoping this was just a really off day, and the singer had a bad cold because this was just … not pleasing to listen to. It was kind of messed up, actually.