I Can’t Get This Fantastic 80s Cover Out Of My Head

I am always telling friends, neighbors and strangers on the street that the Eighties was on balance a musical wasteland compared to the decades that came before and after. People sometimes forget that Punk – the necessary and welcome response to Rock’s fat, bloated excess – was a product of the Seventies and really hit its peak in that decade. All that was left for the Eighties to be proud of was thin, tinny synthesized recordings and droning, tuneless vocals amidst a scattering of great works.

One of those droning vocals belonged to a British band called Talk Talk, who happened to bring some more interesting things to the table in their ambitious lyrics and song structures. One of their biggest hits was 1983’s “It’s My Life”, which regained currency when it was covered by No Doubt in 2003. Well a video for another Talk Talk cover came out last week, and I just can’t stop listening to it, and watching it too.

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It’s a song called “Life’s What You Make It”, which was originally released by Talk Talk in 1986. The cover is by the British band Placebo, in itself an under-appreciated band in North America, perhaps best known here for its 1998 hit “Pure Morning”. Placebo is a talented Rock outfit but hard to pin down in sound, kind of a cross between glam rock and grunge, Nirvana meets Bowie kind of thing.

Well this cover is just brilliant, capturing the song’s ethereal nature but beefed up on the bottom end and with just the right modern guitar sound. Placebo released the song on an EP late last year, but last week released it accompanied by a short film shot in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, at a huge international electronic waste dump. Amid the ghastly vista of the miles and miles of electronic garbage, two boys dance joyfully, seemingly unaware of any other kind of existence. Together, the song and the video make a powerful statement about the human spirit, and about the ways we can treat Planet Earth a little better. Please find a minute to watch it.

Photo: By Arek Olek from Kraków, Poland [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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