Introducing Under the Covers - Dissected, a recurring segment written by Chris and Breanna of Under the Covers. In this segment, we'll take one of our favorite cover songs, play it against the original, spot the differences, and pick our favorite. This installment, we take on Neil Young and Crazy Horse's classic, "Down by River" and the cover of the song done by Low and Dirty Three on the collaborative In the Fishtank 7 - EP released in 2001.
The original song was the centerpiece of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's seminal Everybody Knows This is Nowhere LP, an album that boogied and soloed its way into rock and roll history acting as an influential cornerstone in alt country, garage, and modern psychedelic rock. Young's quivering voice opens the song with the immortal lines "Be on my side, I'll be on your side baby" which leads into a dark tale of underhanded murder. At nine and a half minutes, "Down by the River" locks into a tight country rock groove that features twisting guitar solos that drift from classic blues licks to stuttering noise that wouldn't sound out of place on a Velvet Underground album. "Down by the River" is an oddity, a masterful country rock pop song nestled amongst a harebrained guitar freakout.
Hear the Neil Young original right here.
Low and Dirty Three decided to take on this song for the one off EP the two bands recorded together in 2001; Low being the Sub Pop and Kranky slowcore vets who still call Duluth, Minnesota their home and Dirty Three being the unconventional Australian post-rock trio made up of electric violin, guitar, and drums. The sextet recorded a decidedly more low key take on "Down by the River" starting off by easing into relaxed atmospherics, the guitars of Mick Turner of Dirty Three and Alan Sparhawk of Low intertwining to simply create sound more than solos as Warren Ellis' violin sits softly above the din, as a creaking wash of sound among the occasional pluck of his strings. For about six minutes Low and Dirty Three build up these atmospherics into an ambient haze featuring an understated industrial hum, giving no indication that this actually is "Down by the River" before Low vocalist Mimi Parker cooly enters in with the song's opening lyrics. Parker coos in a tranced out style that has more in common with Young's icon quiver than may at first appear, slowly letting the chorus come in in a style that reaches near a style of gospel-tinged sincerity. Sparhawk and Turner's guitars lock into a loose and slow iteration of the original's tight pop, coming off as a floaty, prayer-like take on a gnashing rock classic.
Click here for the cover by Low and Dirty Three.
Chris' Pick: Low and Dirty Three
Breanna's Pick: Neil Young, all the way.