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What’s more powerful: unbridled guitar violence, or blackened-soul synth-pop fuckery.
The question is a valid one when it comes to Sunday Morning’s radical reworking of Art Bergmann’s “The Junkie Don’t Care”—with the key word there being radical.
The fact that the cover sounds pretty much nothing like the original is somehow only fitting.
With a resume that includes the wildly underrated Shmorgs, deservedly legendary Young Canadians, and much-celebrated Poisoned, Bergmann has spent six decades as one of the greatest and uncompromising songwriters this country has ever known. Refusing to play the game doesn’t always pay off, which is to say there’s a reason the singer-guitar’s band account doesn’t necessarily reflect his decades-spanning mountain of glowing press clippings. But those who get it (hello, “Bound For Vegas”, “Dirge No. 1”, “Beatles in Hollywood”, “A Town Called Mean”) really get it, which explains Bergmann having an Order of Canada pinned to his blazer earlier this December at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Sunday Morning's Bruce Wilson also knowns something about doing one’s best to piss off the world in general, and the Canadian music establishment in particular. Go here to read about how his former band Tankhog used Music West as a golden opportunity to rent a flatbed truck, fire up the amps, and terrorize the upstanding brass of Nettwerk Records.
For the past half-decade or so Wilson has done a gold-standard job of reinventing himself with Sunday Morning, a multi-media project that, on the musical side of things, combines the best of Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, Velvet Underground, and the great Nick Cave. And those are only starting reference points.
There’s no point covering a song if you’re going to deliver a carbon copy, but Wilson goes the extra mile with (the renamed) “Junky Don’t Care.” If you want guitar violence and desperate angst, consult the original (and, by that, we’re talking the fire-bomb Bob Rock-produced demo that surfaced on Lost Art Bergmann, not the strangely limp version on the John Cale-produced letdown Crawl With Me.) But if you want weird, as in drama-drenched, funereal vocals and midnight-mass neon synths, Sunday Morning delivers in spectacular style.
The reason for the cover, which has never gotten the recognition of “Bound for Vegas” or “Our Little Secret”?
Wilson keeps it simple with his explanation: “This cover is a loving homage to a man who has never stopped being a true artist. Thank you Art!”
By “true artist”, what he means of course is a legend who always cared about purity and honesty in an industry that all too often rewards bootlickers, yes-men, and those who happily forget everything they stand for the second they hear “record contract.”
The ground rules have shifted today to where that’s no long always a thing. In Bergmann’s time, you played the game or you ended up abandoned for the next bright-and-shiny antihero.
Fuck those people. Enjoy the tribute, which is ineed just that in the purest sense of the word.
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