Now, there are certain unwritten rules in life. Don’t mess with your best mate’s wife/GF/partner (delete as applicable), don’t eat the yellow snow and never cover tracks by iconic bands such as Joy Division etc. However, as the saying goes “rules are made to be broken” (apart from the yellow snow one!!), and only by pushing boundaries can true art and exploration occur.
So when I got a press release about Cash & Carter and their “country” version of the classic track “Just Like Heaven”, I very nearly reached for the DEL key! However, as their PR guy had gone to great lengths to get it to me, something made me resist!
Carter & Cash is actually the side project of two incredibly talented songwriters in their own right – Birmingham artist Shaun Smith (aka Stealth) and successful London singer, writer and producer Ross O’Reilly, and nothing to do with the late Johnny Cash and his wife Rosanne Carter.
Of course there have actually been some great covers of Cure songs, not least by the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Hot Rats (ex-Supergrass), but there have also been some truly terrible versions and there’s even a whole compilation album dedicated to the Crawley combo! But a country version, well that sounded like a stretch to be honest!
I think I was probably mislead by the term “country”, as there are no references to grits, true loves or even the faintest hint of gingham. There’s no “devil went down to Georgia” fiddle playing either. If there’s any slide guitar it’s hidden well in the mix, which is ostensibly a piano driven torch song, the sort of thing that Marc Almond or Mark Lanegan would have produced.
I happen to think it would sit well in a movie soundtrack for something like Batman, in one of the darker scenes.
“We both love The Cure and wanted to cover one of their tracks, and spent far too long listening through their back catalogue procrastinating, before finally settling on Just Like Heaven,” says the duo. “When you think The Cure you don’t think Americana/Country so we had a real task on our hands putting our own spin on this amazing song. We wanted to reimagine it, infusing the song with a hauntingly melancholic ambiance and brooding, mysterious undertones.”
It works, and with it they manage to provide a fresh perspective on a beloved classic, revealing hidden depths within the lyrics and melody to make the song their own.
Just Like Heaven is out tomorrow 20th Oct and their debut EP will be released in early 2024.
And the one thing I’ve learned from this experience? Never judge a book by it’s cover version!!