Money / Sex Machine / Suzanne- The Flying Lizards

Years before The Art of Noise there were The Flying Lizards, an English experimental new wave band formed and led by record producer David Cunningham and featuring a loose collective of avant-garde musicians including Deborah Evans-Stickland (who provides vocals on the tracks here), David Toop and Steve Beresford, who the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings calls “one of the unsung geniuses of modern European music, a constant presence whose contribution is usually unremarked.”

The group were signed to Virgin records and had a hit with their cover of Barrett Strong’s Money in 1979 but none of their subsequent releases – a mix of covers and their own material – managed to chart. I’ve no idea why. They were still doing the exact same thing. Maybe people thought after that first single that they were now just taking the piss, and maybe they were, albeit with very straight faces. This promo for Sex Machine is hilarious, it looks like three 1980s BBC Programmes for Schools presenters ended up in a music video. And I love their icy Ballardian take on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

Listen to Cover to Cover on Spotify

Cover to Cover on YouTube


I Heard it Through the Grapevine – The Slits

The Slits’ cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine first appeared on the B-side of their single Typical Girls in 1979.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong for Motown in 1966. The song was first recorded by The Miracles, although their version did not appear until 1968. Marvin Gaye’s was the second recording and appeared on his 1968 album In the Groove, only later being released as a single after the success of the third recording of the song by Gladys Knight and the Pips, which was the first time the song was released as a single, in 1967.

The Slits were formed in London, 1976 by members of The Flowers of Romance and The Castrators. Their 1979 debut album Cut is regarded as one of the defining releases of the post-punk period.

The best cover versions make you hear a song you thought you knew in a completely different way, and the very best cover versions can go on to supplant the original in your consciousness. These days the Slits’ version of I Heard it Through the Grapevine is the version that plays in my head whenever I hear the title.