In the timely yet cruel way the world often works, it just so happened that three weeks before legendary singer-songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen’s passing UK indie duo The Last Shadow Puppets, comprised of longtime pals Alex Turner and Miles Kane, uploaded Turner’s cover of “Is This What You Wanted” onto their YouTube channel. I already penned a piece on Cohen’s death so do pardon my focus here on Turner, a legend in the making with and without Kane.
As far as music videos go, it’s exactly what fans wanted: more of his indie dreamboat of a croon, his smarmy, over the top gesticulations, some skin and criminally sexy hip gyrations for the ladies (woot!), slicked back jet black hair and a pair of I’m-too-cool-for-ya sunglasses to boot.
Signature vocal style and Northern brogue in tow, Turner gave us what we didn’t know we needed until it was uploaded: an aptly sexy cover of a very Leonard Cohen Leonard Cohen song featuring lyrics that become less bizarre and more sensual, and essential to the song’s effect, as you listen. As an audiophile and all-round no-nonsense purist, I tend to regard covers and cover artists with distaste, preferring the authenticity and authority of the original, nine out of ten times better, version especially if it’s by a legend like Cohen. Alarmingly, I preferred Turner’s vocally, musically smoother reproduction to Cohen’s stripped back original. Had it been another Cohen song, a superior one, of there are many in his oeuvre, my deference to originals might have rang true.
It’s worth noting that Turner is no cover virgin, having previously covered Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”, John Cooper Clarke’s “I Wanna Be Yours”, and—just a few days ago—Jacques Dutronc’s “Les Cactus” proving, to no-one’s surprise at this point, that with a voice like his he can sing just about any song and beguile.
Hypnotic as most of his covers are, they do not compare to his own songs. Devout Arctic Monkeys/TLSP fans of the female kind swoon at his lyrical genius and distinct vocal style, a downright lethal combination further bolstered by the fact that he also plays the guitar and looks good doing, well, just about everything.
In keeping with the band’s tradition of releasing B-sides, the cover will be out on December 2nd as part of an EP followup to this year’s Everything That You’ve Come to Expect. Named The Dream Synopsis after its central song, a lulling lullaby off the album, I do in fact have high hopes for it, misgivings towards B-sides notwithstanding. I’ve already preordered it on iTunes and purchased the limited edition red vinyl—I don’t believe in illegally downloading music and am strongly for supporting artists by paying to enjoy their work.