All Along the Watchtower –  Nick Nicely (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

As regular readers will know, I’m not that much of a fan of covers of songs. The only point, for my money at least, in revisiting an already well-known song is to do something different with it, after all why bother trying to reinvent the wheel and then try to sell it to a bunch of wheel enthusiasts who are more than happy with the original wheel. Okay, not a great analogy but you get what I’m saying. This is why I don’t watch cover bands and don’t get me started on tribute acts. It’s all substandard wheels as far as the eye can see.

Thankfully Nick Nicely’s approach to the task at hand is to create a strange, futuristic and robotic vibe, one where the vocals come on like a disembodied machine and the guitars spiky riffs are swathed in washy electronica and driven on through distant tribal drums. Far enough removed from the original to avoid being a straight repackage but with the same loucheness and looseness that was present in the more famous Hendrix version. Imagine a pre-breakdown Syd Barrett (if that time ever really existed) forming a post-punk electronica outfit and you start to get a handle on things.

It comes accompanied by The Doors Of Perception, an older song from the NN stable and one employing similar blends of freak-pop, psychedelia, new wave madness and future-nostalgia which acts as the perfect travelling companion. Covering a song is all about taking it places that it hasn’t been before, of offering something new and being willing to dance on sacred ground and if I can be permitted a pun, all I can say is Nicely does it. Brilliantly.

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