Covers albums can be a lazy stop gap, a contractual obligation filler or – worst of all – a pointless exercise in rehashing tunes with no imagination. When done well, they can be fantastic and make you hear things in a way you never imagined. In the hands of Los Angeles noise rock/shoegaze band Medicine – famous to UK audiences for their contribution to the soundtrack for ‘The Crow’ – 2019’s ‘Scarred For Life’ provides an opportunity to dive into the past and re-imagine various cult tracks, bringing a few of their choices to a whole new audience. Although you might expect a band like Medicine to take the easier route and fuzz up a few old gothic favourites, on this eleven track release, they give their fans lots of surprises. Taking various songs from the 60s and 70s (in addition to a couple of other detours) this is a record that, in their own words, “relieves the glory of the K-Tel architechts”. That doesn’t mean the band are about to cover the likes of ‘Yellow River’, ‘Jeans On’ and a well known Suzi Quatro hit, though. This is Medicine, after all…and their voyage through decades past often favours deeper cuts.
If 1972 were the year where the 1970s took on its own distinctive image with glam rock flaunting its majesty in a peacock-like fashion, then 1973 was the year the beards fought back. Every up has its flipside and so it goes here. The polar opposite of Bolan’s optimism, 1973’s biggest selling albums included Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ (a lavish concept album about depression and mental stability), The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ (a concept album about angst, youth and mental stability) and Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, arguably the biggest foray into self-indulgent prog rock this side of Yes’ double platter bore-fest ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’ (also released in 1973).
That’s not so say the great and accessible pop and rock had been swept away, of course. Nor that glam was dead – far from it, in fact. Sweet scored some big hit singles, Bolan told us the ‘Children of the Revolution’ couldn’t be fooled and one time hard rockers Slade escalated in popularity on the back of some great singles.