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Recorded Matter: Satisfaction

17 versions of the Rolling Stones' 1965 rock and roll classic. Notes by host/producer David Platzker:

In 2002 I received a fantastic artists' book in the mail - it was titled Ellsworth Kelly 1:1, A Cover Version. Published by Casco Projects in Utrect, The Netherlands and "authored" by the fabulous Experimental Jetset. The book is an A4 size paperback consisting of 150 pages of solid color, with no text, save from what's printed on the covers.

The book mimics an installation Experimental Jetset executed in 2002 -- a 1:1 reconstruction of Kelly's 1966 painting
Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red translated into 150 sheets of colored paper almost 6 x 1.5 meters in size. And, since the title -- Kelly 1:1 -- exactly describes the work, all three elements (work, title and publication) can be seen as 1:1 scale models of each other. The artists wrote in the press release: "The choice of the original Kelly painting should not be mistaken as critism or
post-modern irony. It should be seen as a tribute or homage instead. And since it is a homage in the same spirit rock bands cover other bands' songs, the book's subtitle is A Cover Version by Experimental Jetset. At the same time, the choice of the Kelly painting was also motivated in a more conceptual way as the original painting is an archetypical artwork: a monumental panorama, consisting of nothing but color and light." I might add that by extension the painting, itself, is a cover version - for the spectrum of light itself.

Regardless, the book got me thinking about cover versions. And when in 2004 I received a copy of Jonathan Monk's book, also titled Cover Version, I started pondering cover versions in visual art versus cover versions in music. My anti-intellectual stance is that cover versions are everywhere in most artistic forms -- in effect there's the original recording, first printing, vintage print, first airing, first iteration in music, books, photographs, television programs, etc. and every subsequent presentation is a cover version. However, it's rare that there is anything but a original article - the unique object - when it comes to visual arts beyond medias such as photography, video, or printmaking. Hence few cover versions -- just "unique works."

I'm of the feeling that great art does not need to be a unique artistic object - artists' books or recordings being prime examples where so much of the artistic output stands so clearly as being as interesting, as good, as valuable as a painting, sculpture, etc., though objects produced in volume naturally keeps the cost of these works relatively low versus the value of an unique object.

Here music creeps in. A fable of sorts is in 1965, during the Rolling Stones third United States tour, Keith Richards awoke late at night from a dream while in Florida. He flipped on a tape deck recorded a the introductory riff of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and promptly fell back to sleep. Supposedly the tape recorder kept on running recording the pick falling and Richards snoring. I find that hard to believe. Further, Richards later worried he stole the riff from Martha and the Vandellas song Dancing the the Street. He may have also lifted the hook from Chuck Berry's song 30 Days from 1955, which contains the line "I can't get no satisfaction from the judge." So, to some degree, the Stones song contains cover version elements itself.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, by virtue of its anthem like qualities - Rolling Stone Magazine voted it the number two all time greatest rock and roll song - has been covered and covered and covered by every imaginable musician in every imaginable style. Whereas every cover version is a homage, and every cover version in order to succeed must contain the DNA of both the original song but interject the unique personality of the musicians playing it. This edition of Recorded Matter is looking for that expressive moment when boredom passes into fascination by playing 17 versions of the Rolling Stone classic (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.

Cover version of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction featured here include ones by Otis Redding, Quincy Jones, David McCallum, Wolfman Jack, Aretha Franklin, Jose Feliciano, Tritons, Devo, The Rolling Clones, Bjork & PJ Harvey, Claw Hammer, Junior Wells, Barbara Dennerlein, Brittany Spears, Cat Power, and The Hampton String Quartet.


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