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While I was working in England, I told myself I would only listen to British bands. So, I loaded up my iPod with Morrissey, Depeche Mode, Nick Drake, Steeleye Span, The Who ("Live at Leeds", naturally), Madness, Pink Floyd, Blur, XTC, Duran Duran, The Housemartins (amazingly underrated band from the 80s), and a whole bunch of "the latest craze" bands like The Arctic Monkeys/Hard-Fi/Kaiser Chiefs/Art Brut. Finally, I went out and bought the excellent new "Brit Box" from Rhino:


But while on the train to Leeds, one song came on that really struck me. In the eighties, Aztec Camera did a cover of Van Halen's jump, and turned it into something a lot more than a funny Weird Al version of the song. Sure, the beginning is a bit "twee", and the folk guitar leaves a lot to be desired. But wait until the the 3:30 mark, and Roddy Frame comes in with a wailing D. What follows is an electric guitar solo (figuratively and literally) that puts Van Halen's own "Eruption" to shame. But that high D makes me cry every time...

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think.

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Steeleye Span = Instant Love.

If you want to hear more stripped down (and somewhat more authentic) versions of the old ballads, check out June Tabor's stuff. She did a couple of albums with Maddy Prior (Steeleye's lead singer) under the name The Silly Sisters.

One of my favorite bands. Can't tell you how much they mean to me.

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