These have been on our radar for a while, but a new album from St Helens trio Vukovar has made then impossible to ignore any more.
Cover versions. The proliferation of TV talent shows has almost rendered the form obsolete. What’s the point in faithfully recreating a song? If you’re going to do it, you need to either improve it or make it something unmistakably your own. Think Johnny Cash’s Hurt or Jimi Hendrix and All Along The Watchtower. And this is where Vukovar – named for the city in Croatia where a bloody, drawn-out battle occurred in 1991 – come in.
The new LP Fornication, released on New Year’s Day, comprises 13 tracks, all covers. The songs chosen cover a massive range, from Soft Cell to Billy Fury, The Monks to Grauzone. Each is recognisable, but completely and obviously Vukovar’s. It’s stripped-down, minimalist and other worldly.
Nowhere more is this the case than on their version of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman. This writer likes the original. A bit. It’s dated, the use of the vocoder sees to that, but was such a departure at the time that it’s hard to retain some affection for it. However, Vukovar take it to another level. It’s haunting. The thump of the bass drum seems to lower your heart-rate before the rise at the end brings you back up and to the edge of your seat.
Completely unconventional, this is terrific stuff.