Monday 5 October 2020

Heart of Glass


Cover version of the month #60
The Associates cover Blondie

There is a Scottish indie club night called Simply Thrilled that has quite an active Facebook Group page. I love the chat and passion for music that is regularly displayed on the page and recently started a conversation about cover versions and someone commented on The Associates cover version of Blondie's Heart of Glass.

The Associates are a Scottish band that I have yet to fully explore. Plenty of other people have explored and fallen for them, largely thanks to singer Billy MacKenzie who had a voice and style that many admired.

However I instantly fell for their cover version of Heart of Glass. But lets start with the original. 

Written by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, Heart of Glass appears on their seminal Parallel Lines album in 1978, eventually released as the third single from the album, reaching number 1 in the UK and USA.

The song was actually written as far back as 1975 with the working title Once I Had A Love/The Disco Song. They had tried it in various guises before Parallel Lines producer Mike Chapman asked them to play everything they had, they then teased the pop out of it.

Parallel Lines was the bands breakthrough album, spawning classic singles Hanging On The Telephone (a cover of The Nerves song), Heart Of Glass, One Way Or Another and Sunday Girl.

Heart of Glass has disco at its heart and the punk pop band experimented with new drum machines and synths to get their sound. It grooves, it shimmers and it inspires. The extended outro on the album version just brings a smile to my face and makes me want to dance.

Debbie Harry smoulders in the video, her falsetto is glorious, she looks incredible and just seems in complete control. The band look like they are having fun, making exceptional music with a super cool singer. Blondie were on absolute fire.

The Associates, who formed in 1979, released their version 10-years after Parallel Lines. I absolutely adore it. The music is pretty true to the original, but MacKenzie's voice just changes the song completely. 

On the Blondie version it is Harry's falsetto that introduces the song, with The Associates it feels more like MacKenzie is talking to the listener personally. The vocal is more controlled and assured, but come 1 minute 23 seconds in and for the second verse, MacKenzie moves things up a little notch.

The synths bubble throughout and if Blondie looked and sounded like they were having fun with the original then that is echoed throughout The Associates version.

The post solo yeeeeaaaaahhh, ooooohhh, lost inside, adorable illusion and I cannot hide, we coulda made it cruising section is absolutely euphoric.

When the Simply Thrilled boys throw their first post COVID club night then I sincerely hope that this is blasted out of the speakers in The Admiral bar in Central Glasgow.

Search for Everything Flows cool cover versions on Spotify for a playlist of the covers I have blogged about and read on for a full list and links to previous cover of the month blogs.

Previous covers of the month
13. Hurt

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