Words by Ben Bowman.
Amid the release of the new EP from The Last Shadow Puppets, featuring 4 cover tracks, I thought it would be apt to delve into frontman Alex Turner’s imposing repertoire of covers, both as part of the Shadow Puppets and Arctic Monkeys, featuring his own versions of Bowie, Tame Impala and who could forget Girls Aloud.
The new 6 track EP from The Last Shadow Puppets will be released on the 2nd of December and is entitled ‘The Dream Synopsis EP’. It features two reworkings of tracks from the 2nd album, Aviation and title track The Dream Synopsis and it also contains covers of The Fall, Leonard Cohen, Glaxo Babies and Jacques Dutronc.
Without further or do, here is a selection of Alex Turner’s finest covers.
- 1) Arctic Monkeys – Hold on we’re going home (Drake Cover)
In 2013, in the build up to their highly anticipated 5th studio album AM, Turner and the Monkeys appeared in BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Clad in sunglasses and open collared shirt, Turner set the tone of the AM era while swaggering around the stage to this Drake track, intertwining soft backing vocals on top of his own crooning voice. This performance has become somewhat of a checkpoint when marking the change in Alex Turner’s profile, however it is always admired as a very good cover.
- 2) Arctic Monkeys – Take it or Leave it (The Strokes cover)
Appearing on French TV in 2007 promoting their second album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, Arctic Monkeys were at the peak of their form. Their debut album seemed to create their sound, while the second defined it. At the time, no-one knew how the Monkeys would transcend into what they are now, but during this performance they ripped through a frighteningly confident cover of The Strokes track ‘Take it or Leave it’. Turner has often spoken of the influence of Julian Casablancas and The Strokes on himself and the rest of the bend, and no doubt the Americans would admire this display from the Sheffield quartet.
- 3) The Last Shadow Puppets – I want you (She’s so Heavy) (The Beatles Cover)
In April of this year, Alex Turner’s side project with songwriting partner and well documented friend Miles Kane returned with the second installment of The Last Shadow Puppets. The much anticipated return of the duo came in the shape of ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ and to nobody’s surprise, there was no disappointment. During the tour, the pair filled up the setlist with a number of different covers and due to Kane’s Liverpudlian roots, a Beatles cover was always on the cards. From the Abbey Road album, I want you (She’s so Heavy) is a stunning track, 7 minutes of pure indulgence and a guitar riff that makes you want to pout your lips together. Much of the greatness in this cover comes from Kane’s capability with his guitar, providing howling tones so akin to the original production from The Beatles. The Last Shadow Puppets originally performed this cover in their first run of shows in 2008 and it was great to see them bring it back for a second time.
- 4) Arctic Monkeys – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala cover)
On the eve of their sell-out shows at Finsbury Park in May 2014, which I was lucky enough to attend, Arctic Monkeys appeared on Australian Radio station Triple J and gave fans a taste of what was to come from support band Tame Impala. Looking back on it now, a lineup of Royal Blood, Miles Kane, Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys would be hard to beat and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Turner stripped back this track from the Australian psychedelic rockers and in typical fashion made everyone fall in love with his charming style once again, so beautiful in it’s simplicity it is fair to say Turner has made this one a real favourite with Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys fans.
- 5) Alex Turner – Strange (Patsy Cline cover)
Turner has appeared on Radio station Triple J in Australia on a couple of occasions, the first being in 2012 in which he covered Patsy Cline’s ‘Strange’. A heartfelt rendition of the Virginian born’s track and is definitely one of my favourite covers from any artist. Once again, Turner makes it so simple but his delivery is emotive, provoking and typically nonchalant.
- 6) The Last Shadow Puppets – Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
2016 witnessed the death of arguably the most influential, era defining, boundary breaking solo artist of all time. David Bowie’s heartbreaking passing was met with tremendous sadness but also incredible rejoice. His music means so much to so many people and he will continue to leave his mark on music for the rest of eternity. At Glastonbury this year, once again accompanied by Miles Kane, The Last Shadow Puppets delivered a stunning rendition of Moonage Daydream from the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album as a part of their tribute to the late David Bowie. Turner’s vocals met by Kane’s once again howling guitar (and saxophone) provided such a beautiful moment at this years festival and was a truly apt tribute to the great man. The pair had previously covered Bowie eight years ago, giving their own version of ‘In The Heat of the Morning’ which is equally as well produced and portrayed.
- 7) Arctic Monkeys – Red Right Hand (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds cover)
In the midst of the Humbug Era, this cover of Nick Cave’s track was arguably the perfect fit for the gloomy feel created by Arctic Monkeys’ third studio album. Cave drew inspiration from Stephen King for this track and it appears on the ‘Crying Lightning’ EP released in 2009. Arctic Monkeys really made this track their own and this is a really underrated cover and you certainly wouldn’t be a fool for mistaking this for one of their own tracks given the melancholic feel.
- 8) Arctic Monkeys – Love Machine (Girls Aloud cover)
Last but certainly not least on this list of covers, who could forget Arctic Monkeys cover of Love Machine by Girls Aloud. It was performed on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and is often referred to as somewhat of a cult performance which will always stick in the memory of every Monkeys fan. Just listen for yourselves to this few moments of pure radio gold.
There are many great covers missed off this list from Alex Turner, such as The Smiths, The Fall and even Katy B, it would be great to know what your favourite covers are from his extensive library.
This piece was written by Ben Bowman, follow him on twitter here.