Take Cover! Franz Ferdinand Vs. LCD Soundsystem

When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week Franz Ferdinand takes on LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends.” MAGNET’s Ryan Burleson pulls the pin. Take cover!

“All My Friends” is at the same time the best and worst song to write about this week, given the recent farewell that LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy bade us from a sold-out Madison Square Garden on April 2, surrounded by, well, all his friends. It’s the best not because the song is arguably Murphy’s greatest achievement, but because of how prescient its themes would prove to be. Over seven-plus minutes of off-kilter, sprightly piano hits and disco-punk rhythms, Murphy told us that “this could be the last time” that he would “set controls for the heart of the sun,” even though “All My Friends” appeared on just his second album. Indeed, it was almost as if he already had an end game in mind as he and his friends pounded the cold New York streets on the way to the club. So it’s the worst for the very same reason: Time itself, compounded by the demands of growing older (the combined bête noire of the song), explains why we must go ahead in the world Soundsystem-less.

No matter how you feel about the legacy or the music of the band (or the pseudonym if you’re Slate‘s Jody Rosen), “All My Friends” is filled with the sort-of “wish I had one more shot” poetry that we all feel in increasing portions as we grow older. That it was set to a tune that’s as timeless as New Order’s “Ceremony” is an ancillary benefit, as far as I’m concerned, albeit a great one. And, as many writers have noted since the LCD’s inception, Murphy’s lyrics are always worth highlighting. Whether in forms ironic, snarky or meditative, his thoughtfulness is a rare quantity among the typically surface homogeneity of most dance-music lyrics. I, for one, will miss the dynamism of a guy who can irreverently bury elitism (“Losing My Edge”) in the same breath that he can earnestly mark the denouement of youth (“All My Friends”).

As far as Franz Ferdinand’s cover goes, I tend to agree with the highest-rated comment on the song’s YouTube page: “[the] debate about who did this song better is completely retarded.” For one, Murphy commissioned the arty (and culinarily sophisticated) dance punks to record their own version for the “All My Friends” single, alongside a version by John Cale. That the cover was born of a mutual respect goes a long way toward negating any sense of competition. And two, as the YouTube commenter goes on to subtly suggest, “BOTH BANDS DID GREAT DAMMIT.” It’s true! Franz’s cover is the rock to Murphy’s roll. (I’d apologize for my bawdy closer if it weren’t so accurate.)

Cast your vote wisely.

The Cover:

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The Original:

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4 Comments

  1. Posted April 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Both very very good, and two bands I love. Had to stick with LCD, though.

    LCD does a cover of FF’s “I Want to Live Alone” that is worth checking out, as well. Seems there is plenty of mutual respect here.

  2. Posted April 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Check out the AV Club’s Undercover.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/baths-cover-lcd-soundsystem,53058/

    What about a vote for this one?

  3. t. drew hardin
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Good gracious great balls of fire to quote Jerry Lee Lewis, The energy both bands possess within their person, A cryin’ shame that LCD is no longer among us; they could still be raunchin’ and rollin’ and few in the Rock n’ Roll world would complain. Their consolation prize is my vote. FF is killer and they’ll win a Grammy somewhere. But LCD rules the day. How can anybody not get swept away. Is this what happened to the Titanic?

  4. Posted August 25, 2011 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    I realize that most people who read this kind of thing don’t usually care about writing, but great music deserves to be written about with more care. Take this sentence:

    I, for one, will miss the dynamism of a guy who can irreverently bury elitism (“Losing My Edge”) in the same breath that he can earnestly mark the denouement of youth (“All My Friends”).

    Being able to write about two subjects at once is not ‘dynamism.’ Dynamism means having energy, force, momentum, etc. ‘Versatility’ is the word you’re looking for. He didn’t perform those two lyrical feats ‘in the same breath’, he did so on two different records, 5 years apart, at very different stages of his career. And everything that comes to an end does not involve a ‘denouement.’

    And if you have a few hundred words to write about a magical piece of music, do you really want to waste any of them quoting comments from Youtube?

    Yes, I am a former/frustrated music journalist. Please consider this constructive criticism from someone who would have loved the opportunity to write this piece. You have a great opportunity to write about something that means a lot to your audience. Please treat it with care!