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VCV: Nick Moss – “Politician”

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Before Privileged was finished, I was told Nick Moss was moving in some new directions on his upcoming record.  I was as surprised as the person who told me one of these new directions was a cover of Cream's "Politician."  I can't claim obsessive knowledge of Cream but I'm a fan and I wouldn't have made the connection on my own.

As I thought about this, I queued up Cream's original version of the song and I was surprised that I was ever surprised.  As I listened it made perfect sense to me.  Moss doesn't sound like Jack Bruce but there is a thread that connects the two singers.  Listen to the two versions consecutively.  The thread is there.  You may always prefer one version to the other but there are similarities in the vocals.

Moss' version doesn't stray far from the basic structure of the original but there are distinct differences.  Clapton layers his guitars and the timing and rhythmic structure are a bit off-kilter, playing slightly towards the more complex side of the band's personality and dabbling just a bit with psychedelia. 

Moss' version is intensity, and attitude, causing the original to feel restrained by comparison.  It's not a put-down to the original but rather a recognition of the obvious fact that Moss has approached the song differently than Cream did when they recorded their great original. 

Moss' lead guitar is bigger and his vocal is more forceful.  There's a sinister swagger in the way the band attacks; their confidence and commitment are audible in every note.  There is evangelistic fervor and furor in what these guys are playing and singing.  The crunch and sting in the guitars are a wake-up call.  These aren't empty words about quaint times or clever wordplay aimed at camouflaging intent.   He chose "Politician" not just so he could cover a song by Cream but because he needed a vehicle for his vehemence.  The direction may have changed but the core burns as hot and bright as it ever has with the sound of passion and purpose.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Joe Bonamassa did the same thing with Blind Faith’s “Had to Cry Today”. You listen to the original and think, “hey, it’s a pretty rocking song”. And then you listen to JB’s version and think, “this is TOTALLY where the song should have been taken in the first place!”

    I love it when tunes from the 60s and 70s are reinterpreted by newer artists and given new life.

  • Josh Hathaway

    Far be it from me to say Cream didn’t do a great job the first time but I think you’re right, Joanie. What Nick did hear is inject a new sense of life and vitality into a song that was already great. This entire album is just so forceful!

  • And that’s how music should be…how covers should be. They should reveal new layers to what was originally written.

    I’ll happily listen to someone like Nick reinterpret a song because he’s very true to himself and he doesn’t flinch when it comes to letting his instincts take him where he needs to go musically.