Several years ago, I took a trip to France with my trusty non-digital camera (remember those?) and plenty of “Kodak Gold 200” film. Halfway through my effort to take pictures of absolutely everything in Paris, I ran out of film. I ducked into a camera shop to re-stock on film, but thanks to my second-rate French skills, came out with black & white by accident.
But to my surprise, when I developed the photos weeks later, I found that the colour photos looked embarrassingly amateur, while the black & white photos were just dripping with artistry and professionalism. This was the moment when I realized that the key to taking great photos is to make them black & white. It just somehow seems to add class to the photo, no matter what the subject matter.
The musical version of this phenomenon is the jazz cover. Take any song, put it in the hands of a talented jazz trio, and it will sound great. The Bad Plus have been working this recipe to perfection for many years now, and this is one of their best results.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The unexpected chords. The Bad Plus really injects a spooky feel to the Tears For Fears classic by throwing in wacky cadences and dissonance, like at the end of the first chorus at 1:08.
2. The piano at 2:39. The contrary motion of the left and right hand is the audio equivalent of a double rainbow.
3. Starting at about 4:30, the drummer starts to go bonkers. The piano calmly repeats the melodic line from the chorus, while drummer Dave King pretends he’s onstage with Hendrix at Woodstock.
Recommended listening activity:
Experimenting with effects in iPhoto.