Under the Covers with George Swan

…and what more could you want from life than time spent with George Swan under the covers?

As we suspected, George’s choices for his dream album of cover songs is bursting at the seams with vintage riffs and utterly unique storytelling, much like his own musical world. God bless him. Those rules and regulations for you, once again…

You’re on your fourth album with a major label – they insist you do a covers album, whereby you interpret your favourite works in your own style. Please select the ten tracks you’d ideally like to cover, along with a brief explanation as to why that artist or track means something to you.

You’re allowed ONE guest artist on the album to contribute to one track

  1. Pink Floyd – Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun 

Great song, lots of power – I’m using the guest star early…guest star David Gilmour! The song is early killer Pink Floyd also with an irresistible lyric.  I would of course throw in a 4 minute synth solo. Excellent use of a guest star. Pink Floyd was, and is, so influential, they hit on every level. Richard Wright was a killer keyboard player too, also a big Hammond guy with killer backup vocals. In 1968, my aunt gave my brother and I copies of the Pink Floyd album, Umma Gumma. We could not believe what we were hearing!  I saw them only once in the nineties I think, but a huge show, killer everything.

  1. Green Day – St Jimmy

Also a great song, lots of power and very fast. Got the album American Idiot when it came out, there’s no weak songs on it.  Also saw them live for that tour, it was unbelievable. I’d extend the song and throw in a killer synth solo, while trading off with the guitars. Those guys started around the same time we did, really stuck with it, and now are huge.

  1. Neil Young – Cowgirl in the Sand 

Killer song always wanted to do it, never got the chance.  I would bring the vocal down a couple of octaves, sing it full power, and play the Hammond for this one of course. There’s room for lots of mighty solos. Neil is a huge influence with his band Crazy Horse and others like CSNY.  He has killer songs, great lyrics, and always plays full-tilt flat-out rock when they want to, with killer backup vocals.

  1. Foo Fighters – Everlong

“Hello I’ve waited here for you” – “Breathe in so I can breath you out” etc – Great song. Saw these guys do it live in 2008, they were also unbelievable. I’d put the Death KB Synth Solo in the middle. I always liked Nirvana too. Dave Grohl and the other guys are the real deal. After we started The Rash we were going to call ourselves Nirvana Plus, but found out those guys already had the name, so we had to stick with The Rash.

  1. The Zombies – She’s Not There 

Would be a good song to power up a bit, take to the next level. I’d play nothing but Hammond and stretch it out to 7 or 8 minutes for sure… I saw those guys late in 2008 but all playing really well and they have just great song after great song. I always loved Rod Argent’s keyboard playing of anything he plays, electric piano, synth’s or distorted Hammond. He’s the real deal, and so is the band. I have a copy of him playing Time of the Season Live, and I can hear exactly what’s going on with his setup. It’s great, the Hammond starts to feed back at the end…

  1. The Cars – Candy-O into Moving in Stereo/It’s All Mixed Up

Also great songs rarely heard, could really power them up. I saw The Cars in the early eighties they were a great band with a unique sound. – I would definitely be Hammonding it up with some moving in the stereo fields. I’d also throw in a monosynth solo at the end to replace what they had originally. These guys always had great lyrics too: “Candy-O, I need you…rosy lips, ruby grin” etc. I think I had three or four of their albums, it was like Prog disguised as New Wave.

  1. The Who Christmas (from Tommy)

Had to pick a Who song, this one is never covered. Could really power it up, great song. Lyrics: “Have you ever seen the faces of the children they get so excited” “How can he be saved from the eternal grave” “Tommy can you hear me…”  I’d use less piano, more Dëth Hammond. Like I said before, The Who basically changed my life when I saw them live in 1977. They were that good. When I started out, I played Substitute and occasionally Pictures of Lily with The Rash, and then Patsy DeclineT Seas (Cowpie) the old bass player was also a huge Who fan and could play almost any Who song on the spot. The Who are a killer power trio with the killer early synths and pianos and great backup vocals. Nice sounding recordings too.

  1. Supertramp – Another Man’s Woman

Great song nobody’s covered, I would add more power at the end. I’d keep the 70’s wah pedal guitar but replace the piano (unfortunately) with full power – 3 Electric guitars with the full-tilt Hammond. Lots of solo trading, it would be fun. Great lyrics “At night I hear a hound dog callin, callin me a cheatin’ man”. I saw Supertramp many times and was influenced by them big time for songs like No Past etc. Great band, they had all killer keyboards including electric and grand pianos, plus some early-ish synths. Great songs and vocals too, with Rick Davies and Rodger Hodgson etc, a very unique sounding band.

  1. Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell

Great song and some great lyrics – Quote: “I can see myself…” I used to sing this at the top of my lungs before I knew how I sounded. – I’d redo the intro so there were just guitars and a Hammond intro, then piano. I’d sing it one octave lower than Meat but very loud. Throw in some “c’mons!” I’d play Hammond on it and piano or with a piano player guest – definitely use a killer band.  That entire Bat out of Hell album was great. I think I had about 4 copies of it on various media that I wore out, including an 8 track version. In 1978, I would play this album and sing along to every song, usually at the top of my lungs but had no idea how I sounded. This probably helped me later on when I realised “Uh oh… I can sing that stuff”.  Definitely a big help and when I got with a real band it all came together.

  1. Uriah Heep – Magicians Birthday 

Prog power would also be a lot of fun to play “Happy birthday, dear magician…” I can’t find my copy but there you go. I’d stick with killer Hammond and synth solos. Uriah Heep was huge for us when we were discovering loud music in the 70’s. They have the killer distorted Hammond, loud guitars, great lead singers, and songs. I used to occasionally jam on the song Easy Living in my previous bands too. I occasionally use a Uriah Heep Hammond technique when playing, where I fire up the Leslie, get the distortion going, and then play with my entire forearm on the keyboard, moving slowly down the keys. It’s a lot of fun to do. I’d make this song about a 12 minute version.

  1. The Doors – Waiting for the Sun

Great song. I played this for many years but never recorded it properly – always ends up as a 10 minute song. I played the Dëth Hammond and left-hand bass on the Triton Extreme when I used to do a two-piece with my old drummer, Jim.  Occasionally we’d play it with a guest guitar player too.  For some reason we never brought it into any of the bands.

Before I got the Korg, I’d play the bass pedals on the Hammond C3 for that song, which I can do but am not fluid.   -“Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for you to…” etc.  I light up at the end.  Could put a killer synth solo in the middle, I’d use a full band though. I was also a huge Doors fan, so if I sang or played one of their songs, I gave it everything I had.

You know, The Doors were playing circus music sometimes. You hear my Doors influences in the groove and lyrics in The Connector song  “Got that highway connection girl, meet me on the other side”  and The Spanish song – “Shadows of your darkness girl, makes shadows of your night” etc.  The Doors had that Spanish flamenco thing going on too.

I never saw them but I did see Ray Manzarek with the Roy Rogers band in Calgary in 2011. He was great, a very talented and unique guy. The band that was with Ray in Calgary played Riders on the Storm, I could tell they all thought they’d died and gone to heaven! It was that good.  Unfortunately I don’t think I could re-do Riders on the Storm, but could definitely do it live if in the right place. Hmm…  *thinking*

Find out more about George Swan here

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