The HBO series Vinyl just seems to keep hitting home runs with its impressive soundtrack. The 70’s rock ’n’ roll story is the brainchild of Martin Scorsese and original rock legend, Mick Jagger. So far receiving huge acclaim for its musical content, Jagger has clearly brought the best of his influence to bear on Vinyl’s soundtrack.
Whilst the full second volume will not be released until the show’s finale, every week has seen a new mini release. Each mini-soundtrack is a cover of an iconic 70’s song, and artists who have contributed so far are Iggy Pop, The Arcs, Alison Mosshart and The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.
Arriving every Friday, that means that we have a brand new one to share today! This week, producer and rapper Trey Songz has taken on perhaps the trickiest cover yet. To record a great cover of an already legendary song is hard enough. But to tackle one of the best known songs from the era, in the wake of a global mourning for the original artist? That’s a lot to live up to.
This week’s mini-soundtrack is Trey Songz’ version of David Bowie’s Life On Mars. Not only a classic track, but also a long time favourite for soundtracks. Songz brings a stripped down rendition of the song, grounded in the familiar piano but transposed to something smoother than the original. To imitate the original space oddity would most likely be disastrous, so Songz’ slicker recording is probably well judged.
Relying on the rarity of Bowie’s songwriting talent, the easy version from Songz doesn’t quite have the flair of the original. Without the full instrumentation, and a piano cascade in place of a guitar solo, it feels like a live performance. Probably spotlit at a white grand piano; a beautiful tribute but it could never take the original’s place.