01.10.2015 — “Fifty-Fifty Clown” as covered by Cold Mailman

Cold Mailman

If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “Fifty-Fifty Clown”, as covered by Cold Mailman (2011, from the Cold Mailman EP. The original, of course, is by Cocteau Twins, from their outstanding 1990 album Heaven or Las Vegas.

Cold Mailman is a dreamy indie-pop sextet from the very small town of Bodø, Norway. That town lies north of the Arctic Circle. Back in 1940, there were 6,000 people living there, and more than half of them lost their homes during a German air raid. With help from the Swedish government, the city was rebuilt, and there are 50,000 people there now. There’s a bit of US history trivia related to Bodø as well. In 1960, American pilot Gary Powers, in his U2 spy plane, took off from Pakistan on a high-altitude reconnaissance mission. He was supposed to land in Bodø, but was shot down in Soviet air space.

Anyway, the band originated there, and has relocated to Oslo. I don’t know anything else about them. The only thing I know is that they’ve released three albums since 2008 and that they allegedly have another on the way in 2015.

The other day, I was visiting the Cocteau Twins official Facebook page. Simon had made a bunch of posts about the most underrated Cocteaus songs. At the end of all of those posts, I saw this cover song. He said : “This is easily the best Cocteau Twins cover version out there to date” I figured if it’s good enough for Simon Raymonde, it should be good enough for me. And it is.

I really love Heaven or Las Vegas. For a long, long time I swore that it was “by far, my favorite Cocteaus record”, and a lock as a “desert island disc”. Recently, I discovered that my favorite Cocteaus record is actually Treasure, but it doesn’t make me love HOLV any less. This has always been one of my favorite songs from the album, which is still in my top three Cocteaus records. And probably still in my top 20 overall.

Anyway, this is that cover song:

It’s almost a straight-up cover. Nothing fancy and not any wild interpretation. Although I can sometimes get down with cover songs being wild interpretations, I also like to see the straight-up ones.

There is a major difference though. In the bridge to the third verse, this cover version has a guitar solo whereas the original has a magnificent section of Liz Fraser’s signature angelic vocalizing. Way, way, way down in the mix, you can just barely hear the Cold Mailman singer doing that vocalization bit, but it’s almost impossible to hear. It’s that bit in the original that takes the song to a completely different level. The song just oozes sex, and that vocalization bit is a big part of that. I think that substituting a guitar solo for the vocalizing solo makes it a little weird.

The live drumming in this cover version is a little different from the cold, un-sexy synthetic drums from the original. Also, the coda is, I think, better in the cover version. Those two things make up for the guitar solo, which I really don’t care for.

In all, this is a splendid cover of a magical song. If you don’t already have Heaven or Las Vegas, you need to rectify that immediately.

You can buy a digital copy of the eponymous Cold Mailman EP from eMu here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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