Monday, January 05, 2009

Major labels beware!

That which I wrote in my post yesterday made me think more carefully about the changes that happened in 2008 - and here I mean especially those in music and more specifically in the UK charts.
It should be very obvious to you that I am a huge fan of vinyl and sometimes critical of the lack of 'background' that is still so often associated with even legal downloads. Of course the internet can provide that but surely the need to find it elsewhere isn't exactly the best advert for legal download sites? That can easily be fixed, and just sometimes it is, but why has it taken so long to get to even this place?
I will however give downloads a huge thumbs-up on a different front; a few years ago the UK singles chart had become increasingly moribund and pointless but since all legal downloads were automatically eligible it has experienced a rather curious renaissance. The best part of it is that despite, or perhaps even partly because of, the influence of Reality TV shows the results have been very surprising.
The UK Official Singles Chart has clocked over fifty years but until the last chart of 2008 two versions of the same song had never simultaneously been #1 and #2. The song that was #1 was of course Hallelujah, with UK X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke at the top and Jeff Buckley's version at #2. Ultimately it is Canadian music again and the original Leonard Cohen version was also in the UK singles chart that week. Three versions of the same in the same chart simultaneously and one taken from his 1984 album, his seventh and the one his long-time label Colombia Records refused to release, that was released by independent label Passport Records instead!
Even before the current flurry of attention in the UK it was the most covered song of Cohen's career to date and, while the version by Alexandra Burke is very good indeed, for sheer impact I'd still go for that recorded by fellow Canadian k.d. lang that appeared on her 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

Search for her live versions too, for they are often even better!
The CD album is still readily available and it too was released on independent label Nonesuch.

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