White Rabbit – No Friends Of Harry
When you cover an old Jefferson Starship song from one of their most highly rated albums (‘Surrealistic Pillow’) and which goes on to be rated by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 500 greatest songs of all time (albeit 478th on the list), you are surely either brave or stupid. I think one can safely say that Rob McLennan and his band were not stupid when they took on this challenge.
No Friends Of Harry, were the front runners in the local goth/alternative scene in the late eighties and soon after the appearance of the debut mini album ‘One Came Runing’, a few of their tracks appeared on the brilliant compilation of alternative music of that era, ‘In From The Cold’. In amongst these was their blistering version of the old Jefferson Starship number.
Of course comparisions are almost obligatory when discussing cover versions so here goes. For a start, JS’s version is a builder with the instrumentation sounding almost muted while Grace Slick’s witchy vocals start off as threatening and dark, but as the military tattoo drum beat builds to an ‘into battle’ frenzy, so her voice becomes more banshee like. NFOH, decided to start out in full battle mode and McLennan’s vocals, while a long way off Slick’s in terms of technical ability, are dripping with sneers and anger while a menacing bass circles round the enemy.
Both versions have their merits and there will be those that say Jefferson Starship’s is better, while other will go for No Friends Of Harry’s and other still, like me, who enjoy both equally. Where NFOH’s version does trump Starship’s is that it is almost 5 minutes long compared to a paltry two and a half minutes Slick & Co. Feed your head on some white rabbit, the slick, quick way or, the longer, more harried route.
Where to find it:
Vinyl: In From The Cold – Various (1988), Principal Records, PRINCE013