Friday, January 21, 2011

Cover Me Impressed: "They Don't Know"

I professed my love for Tracey Ullman's music career right here back in '09, but I don't think I gave enough credit to the songwriter behind a couple of her biggest hits. Let's rectify that right now. The reason I have been thinking of Kirsty MacColl the past couple of weeks stems from my post about Big Country around New Year's Eve. You may not know MacColl was married to Big Country producer Steve Lillywhite, and that he popped the question backstage at the band's famous Dec. 31, 1983 concert.

A few years before that, 1979, to be exact, MacColl debuted with the single "They Don't Know," and it was a big radio hit in the United Kingdom. I must admit I didn't hear the song until long after Ullman made it a smash hit in 1983 (and '84 in America). MacColl's take is a little bit more raw, but other than the guitar solo I think Ullman was amazingly true to the original. Ullman's version was a coup for MacColl since, although MacColl's version was a big airplay hit, she sold very few copies due to a strike by distributors. Ullman recorded a few other very good MacColl songs during her brief singing career, including "Terry" and "You Broke My Heart in 17 Places."

As for MacColl, she is probably best known for taking the female lead on the Pogues' Christmas song "Fairytale of New York." She also had a pretty big hit with Billy Bragg's "A New England" in '85, and MacColl even wrote two extra verses for the song that Bragg often uses in his performances. There's a pretty good chance you have heard her pipes backing up bands like the Smiths and Talking Heads (see her in the video below).

Sadly, MacColl died under odd circumstances at the ridiculous age of 41. You can find out more about that at the Justice for Kirsty Campaign. In the meantime, let's enjoy her music.

Kirsty MacColl - They Don't Know (mp3)
Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"Everybody's Talkin'"
"What Goes On"
"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Halloween Edition
"Porpoise Song"
"Prairie Rose"
"Come On Eileen"
"Walking On Thin Ice"
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"

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