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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“Norwegian Wood” Like You’ve Never Heard It

posted by on August 13 at 15:33 PM

Leila gives you “Norwegian Wood.”

Line Out’s had its share of contentious discussion about Rubber Soul (it’s great, but it’s not better than Revolver; sorry, Messrs. Frizzelle and Schmader).

We’re not going to go there today, thankfully. Instead, we’re going to bring to your attention a very interesting cover of “Norwegian Wood” (one of my favorite tracks on Rubber Soul, for what it’s worth). It’s executed by Leila on her new album, Blood, Looms and Blooms (released July 7 on Warp).

Leila’s version (hear it on her MySpace, unmastered) is slower and murkier than the original; it seems to be recorded at 16 rpm on warped vinyl that’s swirling in a vortex of molasses. Morose synth smears replace the elegantly uplifting sitar riff and Luca Santucci’s lugubrious vocals are sung at a funereal pace. The narrator’s observation that there wasn’t a chair in the room carries an unbearable sadness. Don’t even talk to me about the girl having to work in the morning… Too sorrowful for words. The drums are like tentative knocks on a door. Oh, the pathos. The track’s heaviness and distortion add another layer of poignancy to an already touching—albeit slyly humorous—tableau.

What in the Beatles’ hands is an airy, Anglo-Indian ballad becomes a deliquescent dirge in Leila’s grubby mitts. More cover versions should be this transformational.

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Posted by Self-Hating Hipster | August 13, 2008 7:00 PM

I love that Leila's Norwegian Wood cover is basically submersed underwater, getting the bends. It's really a great cover. Most Beatles covers are executed poorly, without much thought or variation. This one is not.

Easily one of my favorite records of the year.

Posted by Travis | August 14, 2008 9:43 AM

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