The Flying Lizards – Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine)”

The first time I heard this I thought it was terrible. It seemed to be an arch version which focussed on the inanity of “Sex Machine”‘s lyrics, i.e. staggeringly misguided.

But hearing it a couple of other times I realised how closely the cover mapped the sound-world of the original. James Brown’s 60s records have been described sometimes in terms of blueprints – frameworks for a new music and the fullest realisation of that music, all at once. This is a blueprint of a blueprint – a record run through some kind of structual analyser, rebuilt with care and detail but a conscious absence of soul.

It reminds me that cover versions needn’t be better than the originals – this isn’t – or even aspire to be. It also reminds me that being ‘respectful’ to an original needn’t mean copying it.