REVIEW: Urge Overkill – “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” (CD Single)

URGE OVERKILL “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” (1994 CD Single)

“Sister Havana” may have put Nash Kato and Eddie “King” Roeser on the map, but it was their Neil Diamond cover “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” that put them in the ears of almost 10,000,000 Pulp Fiction soundtrack buyers.  Even the Tarantino novice knows that the auteur director has a way and a vision with soundtracks.  Urge Overkill were the beneficiaries of that vision when their 1992 cover (from the Stull EP) was used in one of the most dramatic, well performed and memorable scenes in Pulp Fiction.  You remember it well, don’t you?  Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), who seems to only own Urge Overkill on a reel to reel tape*, hits “play” and starts singing and dancing around the room.  Meanwhile, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is having a moment with himself in the bathroom with a monologue about loyalty.  Then Mia finds a baggie of heroin in his coat pocket, mistakes it for coke, and overdoses.  Blood runs down her nose as Nash sings, “Soon, you’ll be a woman”.  Powerful imagery.

It would have made more sense for Neil Diamond to be on the reel to reel tape, but let’s not complain.  Urge Overkill’s cover is brilliant, not deviating far from the original.  As the song sways and cha-chas like Mia Wallace in her mansion, the trio are accompanied by piano, acoustics and percussion.  Kato nails the vibe vocally; his voice is just lower and rougher than Neil Diamond’s.

The single has two B-sides:  One from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and one from Urge Overkill’s Saturation album (on which “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” does not appear).  “Dropout” from Saturation is an unexpected tune, focused on a synth-y beat, a couple acoustic guitars and a single keyboard hook.  Lead vocals are by drummer Blackie Onassis, accompanied by subtle female backing vocals.  It’s actually a really cool song, difficult to describe adequately.  It’s stripped down and laid back with minimal sound effects and a focus on the way the vocals are layered.  You would not think it was the same band who did the first track!  This cut is slightly edited down at the end from the album version, by 10 seconds.

Finally The Tornadoes close the single with their surf-rock instrumental “Bustin’ Surfboards” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.  Think back to the film and you’ll remember this music.  Jody, Rosanna Arquette’s piercing-obsessed character, is playing the tune when Travolta comes by to score some drugs from Eric Stoltz.  This is a vintage track, featuring the sound of crashing waves over the surfin’ guitars and whammy bars.

When you think about it, the track listing for this single is actually quite cool.  For the average Pulp Fiction fan, they were getting a second Urge Overkill song that they wouldn’t have come across otherwise.  For the UO fan, they were getting the A-side and a Tornadoes tune from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack that they might dig.  Something for both scenarios.

And yes, before you ask, the “damaged” CD artwork seen below is just part of the artwork.  Like an old worn pulp fiction novel.

4/5 stars

* Teac were still making reel to reel machines in the early 90s.


REVIEW: Def Leppard – “Wasted” / “Hello America” (1979 single)

Part 4 of my 4-part series on early Def Leppard singles!

DEF LEPPARD – “Wasted” / “Hello America” (1979 Vertigo/Phonogram single)

My initial thinking regarding this single was that I didn’t need it; both songs are available on On Through the Night.  Then I found out that these single versions of “Wasted” and “Hello America” are earlier, non-album recordings.  Rick Allen was in the band by this time but On Through the Night had yet to be recorded.  This immediately put the single on my radar as a must-have.

On Through the Night was produced by Tom Allom (Judas Priest) but before settling on him, Leppard tried out Nick Tauber due to his history with Thin Lizzy.  (He also produced Sheer Greed by Girl, the band that featured future Leppard alumnus Phil Collen.)  Tauber worked on the earlier, folksier Lizzy, not the later version of the band that rocked out such classics as “Jailbreak” and “Bad Reputation”.

The story goes that the record label was unhappy with Nick Tauber’s results and put a halt to his work on the album.  He had finished four songs:  These two, plus “Rock Brigade”, and “Glad I’m Alive” which both remain unreleased.  The label released “Wasted” as a single while recruiting Tom Allom to start over on the album.

“Wasted” boasts one of Leppard’s all time greatest riffs, if not the greatest.  You can see how this song has remained a cult favourite all these decades later.  This earlier version isn’t as adrenalized (pardon the pun) as the later album version, but there’s otherwise nothing wrong with it.  I think Allom’s album version is safely still the definitive one.  The two tracks are not that dissimilar, just Allom’s more in tune with the current heavy metal sounds.

The B-side, “Hello America”, would become a single in its own right the following year, in its guise as an Allom track.  This might be one that I prefer in its Tauber version.  Allom added a synthesizer riff to the chorus of “Hello America” that I always felt dated the tune.  While this version is not as manic or electrified, it does have the bare unadorned chorus.  There are bonuses to both versions.

It’s kind of funny to hear how shaky Joe Elliott’s voice was back then.  He grew into a powerful screamer by the High ‘n’ Dry album, which is my favourite period of Def Leppard.  They were all young back then, but Joe was clearly not as confident nor in his control of his voice in 1979.

Still, as a purchase, as a single, as a collectible, I am very happy with this.  My only regret is that I didn’t find one with a picture sleeve.

4.5/5 stars