Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: 'Walking On Thin Ice'

In 1980, one of the projects John Lennon was working on at the time of his death was assembling a tribute album of his wife's work. It was to be a 50th birthday present to her. After his death, Yoko continued to recruit artists for the album, and it was finally released in 1984. For me, there were two fantastic moments on 'Every Man Has a Woman,' and both of them were, at the time, relatively recent 'Double Fantasy'-era songs. Lennon opened the record with "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him," and Elvis Costello & The Attractions covered "Walking On Thin Ice."

As the story goes, Lennon and Ono finished "Walking On Thin Ice" the day of the shooting. Lennon was clutching the final mix of the song when he died. OK, take a moment and exhale. The song was released as a single in 1981, and it was played at dance clubs everywhere, helping Ono chart her first solo hit. It peaked at No. 58 here in America, and it did even better in the UK (No. 35).

Costello admitted "although I would never pretend that her records are exactly a fixture on my turntable... I was happy to complete one of her husband's last projects which one must imagine was conceived out of love." The band was touring the United States in '84 when they stopped off in New Orleans to record the song with production help from Costello favorite Allen Toussant. Costello & The Attractions were on the road at the time to promote 'Punch the Clock.' The highlight of that album is the inclusion of the TKO Horns, and Costello had the boys with him for the tour and this recording session. Costello said "I don't believe that horn section ever sounded better than on this recording." I won't argue. Costello has covered a ton of tunes, but this one might be my favorite.

You can find Costello's version in a couple of places other than the Ono tribute album. 'Out Of Our Idiot' is a 1987 import of Costello's B-sides recorded during his CBS years. You can also find it on reissued versions of 'Punch the Clock.'

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Walking On Thin Ice (mp3)
Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

No comments: