German band Gordon Blue delivers surprisingly jazzy covers of classic rock staples on new CD
(Published: August 30, 2011)
August 30, 2011 (Speyer, Germany) Written by Robert Sutton. Although they seem to be immune to the rust of old age, even the classics can grow moldy, especially through oversaturation on classic-rock radio. Perhaps the German band Gordon Blue were thinking in a similar fashion when they decided to unleash The Hippie Standards, a collection of snappy jazz makeovers of mostly AOR staples from the ‘70s.
The group certainly has fine taste. Lou Reed remains an underappreciated talent in flower power nostalgia, probably because he didn't belong to the long-haired crowd to begin with. In fact, Reed's highly influential yet commercially unpopular late ‘60s proto punk outfit the Velvet Underground was the antithesis of the hippie movement. His solo single, "Walk on the Wild Side," from 1972, received surprising airplay at that time, shocking considering its lyrical references to prostitution, drugs, and oral sex. The post-Vietnam War college kids of the early ‘70s probably appreciated it more than the Haight-Ashbury pot smokers did, which is likely why it's barely heard on classic rock radio these days. Its inclusion on The Hippie Standards is a surprise treat, and so is Gordon Blue's rendition of it, transforming Reed's minimalist drone and spoken-word poetry into a groovy jazz track with lively piano and jumpy percussion. Vocalist Torsten Haus has a smooth delivery that makes Reed's wickedly funny lyrics more startling.
Formed in 2010 by Haus, pianist/keyboardist Udo Sailer, bassist Boris Friedel, and drummer/percussionist Daniel Messina, Gordon Blue flirt with parody when doing jazzy covers of established classic rock tunes; however, their affection and respect for the material end up invigorating these played-out songs. Led Zeppelin's dive bombing 1970 shrapnel "Whole Lotta Love" doesn't lose its power when Sailer adapts Jimmy Page's swooping riffs into crystalline piano melodies although it's different hearing the words without Robert Plant's Godzilla roar. However, that's the whole point of the project - to make something new out of the too familiar.
When Gordon Blue cools off Deep Purple's fiery cannonball "Smoke on the Water" into soothing piano jazz, it's a welcome change and simply proves that the originals were built to last. "I picked some well-known, beaten songs, that everybody knows," Sailer explained. "To paint these songs in new colors was a fascinating challenge." And it's one that Gordon Blue accomplishes effortlessly.
More Information: http://www.gordon-blue.com