Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Are Scientists Cover "Take My Breath Away"

Tom Cruise was one of my first crushes (shameful), Kenny Loggins' "Playing with the Boys" is still a treasured classic, and Goose has been the long-decided, widely accepted name of my future weiner dog. It's safe to say I'm a big fan of Top Gun.

I also feel like the "birds and the bees" conversation with my parents might have been prompted by the film's famous love scene in which this 80s ballad played. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to hear that one of my favourite New York indie-rock bands We Are Scientists decided to put their spin on Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" - a slow dance classic that the group apparently held in just as high a regard as I did during my cassette days. Not surprisingly, the boys did it every bit justice; keeping the pretty melody in tact and trading the 80s-cheese elements for their handsome vocals and the long twangs of a pedal steel guitar.

Read what led to their covering the Top Gun hit (as described to Paste Magazine). I don't agree with their opinions of Clapton, but it's hilarious nonetheless:

“We had Top Gun on VHS when I was a kid — we’d watch it three or four times a week. My dad would always play tasteful pedal steel whenever Kelly McGillis was on-screen. That’s kind of where the idea for it started,” says Chris.

Keith continues: “Chris and I first watched Top Gun together on the tour bus a few years ago, and I remember Chris kept singing these really lovely ambling pedal steel parts under his breath when Kelly McGillis was on-screen — well, I thought he was doing a trumpet at the time.”

Later, in the spring of 2013, the band decided to record a cover along with several other tracks that would ultimately land on the forthcoming Business Casual EP (Oct. 14). Chris volunteered that he had always wanted to do a version of “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton.

“Man, that song’s a total piece of shit,” Keith told him.

“Ha. I guess you’re right,” said Chris. Then, as was his habit during moments of tension, he began quietly humming an improvised pedal steel part for “Take My Breath Away.”

“Wait, you realize that’s pretty much the same chord structure as "Wonderful Tonight," right?” Keith said.

“I… huh?”

“That Top Gun sex song — it’s pretty much just Wonderful Tonight without awful Eric Clapton. Let’s just cover that.”

They had found a solution that would let everybody win except Eric Clapton. The next day, they brought in multi-instrumentalist and occasional Scientist Max Hart, whose extemporized pedal steel part — both lilting and playfully reminiscent of Top Gun’s brazen sensuality — outdid even Chris’s gilded memory of those childhood recitals. When Andy Burrows’s pounding drums drop into the mix, the evocation of blasting jet engines and throbbing adult desire is unmistakeable and timeless.

“Everybody wins except Eric Clapton,” says Keith, “which of course is what everybody except Eric Clapton wanted.”


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